The invisible hand and brand differentiation—Part One


As a brand strategist, the most interesting part of my industry is that branding theories can teach everyone a little more about themselves. For example, commercial brands and personal brands are comparable. Everyday branding practices can be traced to the theories and rules of the branding discipline. In a series of blog posts, I would like to examine how individuals can learn from brand stories. To start, I would like to understand the roots of how branding is practiced today.

At Siegel+Gale, part of our “Simple is Smart” philosophy is to build brands using simplicity to create fresh strategies, stories and experiences. In this case, “personal branding” may be the best approach to explain the importance of branding and its history.

Adam Smith’sinvisible hand” is an essential theory that not only contributed to economics, but also, in my opinion, to the foundation of the idea of brand differentiation. The invisible hand works to allocate resources in a way that people can maximize their value. Likewise, brand differentiation is a basic rule in branding, which is defined by the maximization of prosperity in a given brand ecosystem that helps brands to realize their unique value. With no stone left unturned, differentiation is the force that pushes every brand to find its own niche. As a result, the brand ecosystem can approach its full potential.

This is the same for people. Differentiation drives people to search for their best position in society, while maximizing their social well-being.

Together, people contribute to society’s prosperity. In a perfect world, if every person found their unique positioning, there would be no repetition of work and, consequently, no waste of resources. Diversification would bring about sustainable social progress. Therefore, how we and our brands adapt to society is conducive to overall social and business evolution.

Ten or 15 years ago, China’s businesses and its workers had far less competition as markets were developing. Today, both struggle to find their own niche to survive and prosper. Differentiation becomes increasingly important in this new model. China’s business community and workers must discover their unique values and communicate them clearly to stakeholders. In the next few blogs, I will discuss in more detail the ways that they both can achieve this.

Holly Shi is a senior strategist for the Siegel+Gale Beijing office.


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