Brand Differentiators or What Sets You Apart

Whether you call them your brand differentiators, your brand pillars, or the elements of your value proposition, the things that set you apart from your competitors are important. These characteristics help you positively cement your brand in the minds of your audiences.

To have the greatest amount of influence over how your customers view your brand, you need to understand how they think. The human brain has an incredible capacity for learning, storing, and recalling information. Yet, even with these capabilities, our brains have some limitations worth noting.

Let’s break down three facts about the human brain and what they mean when it comes to making memorable brand impressions and communicating your brand differentiators.

1) Short-term or “working” memory has a limited capacity.

In the 1950s, George Miller determined that an average of 7 pieces of information (plus or minus 2) could be stored in short-term memory at one time. However, more recent studies suggest that somewhere around 4 pieces of information is a more accurate estimate.  

Given this knowledge, it’s wise to really take our time curating the list of differentiators that we consistently message. I’ve always found that three is a great number when it comes to making brand messaging stick. Limiting yourself to three forces you to be really selective in prioritizing what your brand stands for and offers. As my improv teacher in graduate school always said, “limits yield intensity.” It’s far easier to ensure that your three brand differentiators guide everything you do, say, and create than to wrangle an unwieldy list of ten. Additionally, the unconscious brain will be able to recognize patterns in your messaging when three points are regularly being noted.

2) The average attention span requires short, to-the-point messages.

Technology has made us fantastic multitaskers, but it has significantly decreased our average attention spans. While there is some disagreement over the level of this decline, the average human attention span is undeniably low.

If we are aware that our audiences take in information in such bite-sized portions, it’s important to make our messaging easily digestible. Concise writing is often the hardest writing because it forces you to commit to the essential message, without all the fluff. In this case, you must give up the qualifiers and confidently state what you do better than others. Keeping your messages short is hard, but it’s worth it. Now, aren’t you glad we’re only aiming to identify three differentiators?

3) Emotional resonance matters.

If we have a strong emotional connection to content our brain prioritizes it and we remember it more clearly and for a longer time period. We also tend to pay greater attention to things that relate to us or how we perceive ourselves.

This piece of brain science is so important. As you may have noticed elsewhere on my site and in my writing, I am a firm believer in the power of good brand storytelling. By connecting with your customers on an emotional level, you have a much better chance of gaining their attention and trust.

If emotion is important, your three brand differentiators need to matter to your target audience. You want to communicate three things that represent value to them and make it easy for them to identify with your brand.  

Even though your three core messages themselves should be short, you have lots of storytelling opportunities to explore. Use your e-newsletter, social media, videos, and your blog to tell emotionally compelling stories that highlight the three differentiators you’ve identified.


Alright, now we have a solid understanding of what we are aiming to accomplish and why. It’s time to actually identify those three brand differentiators and brainstorm ways that you can reinforce them through every interaction that your customers have with your brand.

Sign up for emails to access the free downloadable worksheet to guide you, make an appointment with yourself or your team, and get to work!