If you are tempted to say "quality" helps differentiate your brand, think again.

Do you know how many times I've heard people say "quality" is one of the distinguishing features of their company's product or service? Fact is, I really can't give you a number tallying the total. For 25 years, I've been listening to companies tick off the reasons customers should buy from them. Over the span of hundreds of get-to-know-you meetings and down-the-road strategy sessions, it is safe to say that "quality" topped more than 90 percent of the lists of brag points.

So, if everybody's talking quality, it really doesn't differentiate your brand. And to be effective in your advertising, you really must set your product or service apart from your competitors.

To know your differentiation is to know your position. Positioning is the single most powerful concept in marketing, and it stipulates that a product or service must stand for ONLY ONE THING in the minds of your customers and prospects.

Minds get confused. It's only natural. We are barraged by messages every hour of every day. Imagine the minds in your market when they hear messages about "quality this" or "quality that." Who would blame them for glazing over when that ad airs or shows up in print.

Quality is a given today. You simply must have it or you don't deserve a place at the table.

So "quality" is not the way to differentiate your brand. Whether you make a product or deliver a service, you do have a differentiation -- a position -- that your customers and prospects can legitimately rally around. To find it, you must dig deep.

It's not easy to differentiate your brand. It requires thorough introspection. It also requires complete objectivity. It often is nearly impossible for people immersed in their own business to discover.

You would be wise to ask for assistance in determining how to differentiate your brand. If you don't know your position, Innis Maggiore can help. Our Appreciative Discovery® is a proprietary positioning strategy process and report. On delivery of the report, you will clearly understand what it is that differentiates your brand.

Your company's product or service may indeed be top-shelf when it comes to quality. But don't hang your advertising hat on it. Find your true differentiation and invest your ad dollars responsibly.