Week 4 – Competitive Advantage and the Importance of Both Seamless Brands and Communication

27 02 2011

Companies in many markets especially those in industries such as supermarkets, insurance and car manufacturing are constantly searching for new innovative ways to gain a competitive advantage.

Companies can gain a competitive advantage by conducting consumer centred research. However what is there that stops competitors from doing exactly the same thing? The answer is nothing! Gaining a competitive advantage in this way is generally short term as competitors soon form similar products or services to compete.

So you are asking yourself now, how do companies gain long-term competitive advantage?

Well, one answer to this is ‘Radical Innovation’(also known as design driven innovation). According to Virganti (2009), radical innovation ‘is one of the major sources of long-term competitive advantage’ (pp 3). Radical innovation is when a company proposes a new product which has a different and unexpected meaning. As mentioned in the reading, a good example of this type of innovation is the launch of the Nintendo Wii, a game console which involves physical activity as opposed to being stationary sitting on a sofa.

Another effective ways of gaining a competitive advantage is to ensure a brand is seamless. ‘Clarity over creativity’ is believed to be the key to a successful brand.

There are many companies who fail to be seamless as they lack consistency in their brand image. A Common weak point of many companies, which occurs online is the point when you click a link on a company’s website and you are displayed with the generic, dull ‘404:error message’. Not only does this page look cheap and tacky, but when consumers are told they cannot see a webpage, they are generally displeased and it may encourage them to develop negative perceptions and potentially leave the website.

Therefore, to maintain the reputation of a website and brand, it is vital that companies customize their error message pages to prevent them from having such a negative impact. Several approaches have been made by companies as an effort to customise 404: error messages ranging from formal once to humorous ones.

This customized 404:error message (below) by the times online, with a humours character to it is one of my favourite. Although simple, it has a big impact, putting a smile to my face and to many other faces who came across it I’m sure.

Another one that i think is particularly good is IBM’s. Although more formal, it communicates that the company care about its customers and tries to rectify the problem by providing a list of possible solutions.

Seamless communication

In many industries seamless communication, has helped companies develop a strong competitive advantage, Shanghai general motors’ being one of them. Shanghai General Motors’ demonstrate how seamless communication can be used as an aid to improve service delivery. In 2006, traditional communication (voice calls) within the company’s wireless network were replaced with a voice over IP system, allowing the achievement of a competitive advantage and quicker responses to market changes. VoIP systems where used alongside Intel® Centrino® mobile technology based notebooks which enabled working efficiency to be enhanced. Efficiency was improved in many ways including increased opportunities for group problem solving, learning and social bonding; reduction of missed calls as the system automatically detects online presence and staff can limit disruption by using the “do not disturb” feature.

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