I’ve always been interested in the history of inventions and innovations. Computer history is particularly fascinating to me, partly because of the surprisingly long timeline involved. Computing extends back to the ancient abacus and the Greek Antikythera, a mechanic “prediction machine” dating back at least 2,000 years.
Yet even with this legacy of computational aids, the vast majority of computing had been done strictly by hand well into the 19th century — in fact, the word “computer” originally applied to the people who actually sat before computational tables performing endless manual calculations to try to get these tables as accurate as possible. It was a brutal, never-ending task, and one that Charles Babbage decided to mechanize. His Difference Engine No. 1, designed in 1821, employed a series of gear wheels in a decimal system to calculate values. Unfinished during his lifetime, the design has been replicated by modern engineers and works exactly as predicted nearly 2 centuries ago. There’s even a LEGO version!
What’s this got to do with marketing? Frankly, it was the name that struck me. Babbage used the term “difference” in the mathematical sense, of course, but we marketing professionals revere the word for, ahem, different reasons.
Finding your unique brand, your niche, is a critical factor in a successful marketing campaign. You have to figure out exactly what makes you stand out from your competitors. What new or original qualities does your company bring to the table? Is it a matter of background, of experience, of values, of power, of access, of personality? What makes you different?
Then once you’ve isolated that quality, what process have you created to communicate it to your target market? What media devices are you employing and how do they integrate into a unified branding effort?
What’s your “Difference Engine?”