I ate my first meal at Chick-fil-A over three years ago in Georgia. At the time I wasn’t thinking about the company’s values, or their position on same sex marriage. I was locked in a personal battle over will power. Should I start searching for a coronary care unit, or should I order another chicken and biscuit? They both seemed like equally smart ideas.
With that meal under my belt, I thought I could cross Chick-fil-A off my bucket list. But recently I’ve been captivated by the public spotlight on the brand, along with the heated emotional response to Dan Cathy’s comments about same-sex marriage. If you missed it, he said that Chick-fil-A supported “the biblical definition of the family unit.” And with that, Cathy launched what may become the next hot new trend in marketing: the ability to differentiate between brands based on what stand they take on significant societal issues.
Think about the small fortunes, the vast brainpower, and the technology that we apply to create points of differentiation between products that are virtually identical. It takes the highest forms of art and science to manufacture reasons for consumers to choose between which sugar water to drink, what fast-food chain to eat at, and which operating system deserves their unyielding loyalty.
Dan Cathy, on the other hand, crystallized a position in the market and created a point of differentiation that consumers immediately grasp. And it has worked. Chic-fil-A has rallied its loyalists and started a national conversation about their brand based on a single statement.
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