Image Differentiation for Competitive Advantage

Abhijeet Pratap
3 min readFeb 26, 2020

Image Differentiation for Competitive Advantage

Apple’s differentiated image is a source of competitive advantage.

Brand image is a very important factor in the area of marketing. The image of any brand is related directly to its market position. However, with time every industry is facing higher competition. In such a situation to ensure that your brand does not remain lost in the crowd, companies need to differentiate their products and service as well as their brand image from others. A differentiated image helps at standing out from the crowd. There are several factors that can help a brand create a differentiated image. The image of any brand is created by a combination of several factors that include marketing, business model, business practices, pricing, product quality, customer experience as well as organizational culture. Even the leaders and their personalities play a special role in creating the image of a brand. For example, the personal image of Apple founder Steve Jobs and that of Star Bucks founder Howard Schultz is related to the image of the brands they built.

Some of the brands that have successfully differentiated and marketed their image are Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, and Google. A differentiated image also means higher brand recognition. However, a differentiated brand image cannot be created as easily. It requires time, resources, and special focus but can help you gain an edge over your competitors.

Have a look at how these brands have differentiated their images from their rivals in the industry.


Starbucks has successfully differentiated its image in the industry as a premium, customer-friendly, and ethical brand. All these factors make it highly popular and this becomes a source of competitive advantage. Apart from premium quality products, it is known for ethical business and a customer-friendly environment at its stores. Customer experience and ethical business practices fundamentally define the Starbucks brand apart from premium products and prices.


Apple has successfully differentiated its image as a high-end technology brand that caters to high-end consumers mainly. It charges premium prices to maintain its premium image. This image is also related to the high quality of its products. However, at the core, it is the differentiated customer experience that makes Apple different from its competitors. Its image is also a source of competitive advantage for the brand.


Google has created the image of a user-friendly brand. It is also one of the main reasons behind its worldwide popularity. From its search engine to its chrome browser, all are designed to provide a user-friendly experience. Accessibility and user convenience are the main features that differentiate Google products and services from others. Its image is that of a technologically advanced brand that focuses mainly on user experience.


Amazon is the leading e-commerce brand with a global presence. The US-based brand has differentiated itself from other e-commerce and retail brands by offering a distinct and superior online shopping experience. Amazon’s focus is on customer experience and customer service. The distinct advantage of Amazon lies in the technology behind its e-commerce platform. Its algorithms do not just decide the prices of millions of products on a real-time basis but also offer suggestions and gather feedback to help buyers. In this way, technology and convenience are the factors differentiating the Amazon experience from other e-commerce brands. However, Amazon has focused on creating a customer-friendly image and made policies that focus on the highest customer satisfaction. These things have helped it differentiate its image and build a superior competitive advantage.

In this way, image differentiation helps brands gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Product and image differentiation can have several benefits. Read more about differentiation.