The goal of any company selling a product or service is differentiation. A company pitches its unique selling proposition that is going to be most advantageous for it. Successful differentiation requires a good product or service and customer insight (customers’ perception of a company’s product and those of competitors). Setting its products or service apart from its competitors is necessary to create preference and loyalty.

Here are a few examples on how companies differentiate from competitors:

Apple – Appealing Design, robust software
Hands-on software, simple product design and unified iTunes ecosystem.

BMW – Ultimate driving machine
“The ultimate driving machine”. It gives many professional reviews on how BMW’s drive its ergonomic design, maneuverability, non-overweight engine.

Holstee – Powerful mission statement
A mission statement can set you apart from competitors and can be enough to sell products. Quite literally, this is what happened in Holstee’s case. Holstee, a New York–based company, sells eco-friendly clothing and accessories. Its mission statement different from the usual was labeled as the Holstee manifesto. It became a best seller and was viewed more than 50 million times and translated into 12 languages. The mission statement printed on recycled paper sold at $25 a poster.

J. C. Penney – Simple pricing strategy
J. C. Penney, the 110-year old department store, has a new “Fair and Square Every Day” pricing strategy. The store’s differentiation strategy is to keep pricing simple and build long-term relationships with customers. The store will have only three simple prices – Every Day, Month Long Value and Best Prices.

Nike – Brand Power
Brand power, strong bonding with top athletes (Michael Jordan, Brazilian national soccer team), and performance-focused product design. Nike produces products that are customers recognize to be of high value with exclusive features. Nike is also known to use guerrilla marketing to publicize its products e.g. Nike’s use of small Gone Running signs in amusing situations.

Qantas – Safety record
Qantas, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline distinguishes itself as the second oldest airline in the world (founded in 1920). Its reliability and immaculate safety record are main selling point. The company identifies safety as its first priority and prides itself on its safety first culture.

Singapore Air – Distinctive services at premium costs
Distinctive premium services on long-haul business flights at practical costs. It was the first to introduce many services like video-on-demand, hot scented towels, hot meals etc. It uses a young fleet of aircrafts and its well-dressed ‘Singapore Girl’ cabin crew is a brand icon.

Tetra Pak – Innovation that adds value and inspires customers
Products that add value (eliminating need for refrigeration), save costs (easy logistics) and help customers increase production (e.g. laminated material which aids high-volume dairy operations)

Virgin Atlantic
Funky fun and good value. In 2009, Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to use bio-fuel.