The Brand Differentiation Wheel™: a fresh update on the whole product concept

Sales not flowing as expected? Prospective customers holding back their decisions? You may have the best product feature by feature, but what about your brand intangibles? The Brand Differentiation Wheel™ fixes that.

The whole product concept: making tech more buyable

As the technology markets mature by following the Technology Adoption Life Cycle curve, the product adopters' motivation changes, and product offering intangibles assume more importance than the core product's features and technology.

The whole product concept recognizes this need for intangible complete offering elements for most potential adopters by adding new dimensions that surrender the core product or technology. The intangible dimensions are the ones that help technology products and innovation differentiate and win beyond the early adopters. They allow the customer to avoid painful disruptions and reduce risks while adopting and making buying decisions about tech products. These are the foundations of the augmented, total, or whole product model, largely refined since 1983, when Theodore Levitt introduced it.

Often, new products lose their initial traction because a new entrant or even an incumbent is more successful in product positioning based on a more effective mix of brand intangibles — even if the second product is not technically superior.

What innovators and early adopters want

When introducing a new product, innovative technology, the core product features are all that matter to convince innovators and early adopters — the technology enthusiasts leading the adoption of innovations and technologies.

The illustration shows the mix of product offering tangibles (core innovation/product) like features, and intangibles (surrounding the core, colored) for the early adopters. Notice how the buckets surrounding the core innovation are not very colored, and the core innovation is a big part of the complete product mix.

The bad news is that innovators and early adopters that care about technology and features are only 16% of any given market.

A compelling offering for the majority of a market is differentiated through brand intangible attributes

Our team has been researching and learning over +200 consulting projects to refine the whole product model in order to understand the key drivers in technology/innovation decision-making. We have observed and confirmed that the key buying objective for most potential buyers of an innovation or technology is to feel safe.

Have you ever heard decision-makers not buying a tech product because they are afraid of becoming technology orphans or concerned about support, onboarding, or change management? Maybe they buy from the biggest guy in the market because "nobody was ever fired because of hiring IBM". These are just examples of what the 84% of potential buyers —the mainstream market— need to feel safe to buy an innovation or technology, the early-majority and late-majority, in terms of the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. This sudden change in the expected product offering, buying objective and key decision drivers is what we anticipate with our improved version of the whole product concept framework: The Brand Differentiation Wheel™.

The Brand Differentiation Wheel™ illustrates how the 12 value drivers and expected offerings change from an early market to a mainstream market — where sustainable, profitable growth lies. Most tech products fail to break growth plateaus or reduce sales cycles past product-market fit because go-to-market leaders fail to understand the safety needs that their next wave of product adopters have. A big wave of potential buyers that are not any more technology enthusiasts and visionaries. Thus, most business and marketing managers neglect to adjust their brand initiatives and positioning messages in new key selling points based on brand intangibles rather than focus exclusively on core product features after the product-market fit.

whole product concept low risk recipe

The Brand Differentiation Wheel™ helps CxO's, marketers, and product marketing managers identify the intangible brand attributes to stand-out from the competition in the eyes of the mainstream.

We've successfully applied it as a cornerstone of the Go to Market Strategy for +200 projects to reduce risk perception, reduce sales cycles and sustain growth in every stage of the product adoption management.

Expected Product

The 12 key drivers in technology buying decisions

Get ready your offering for scale and sustainbale growth by offering these 12 product completeness attributes.

End-User Harmony

Ensure harmony with the end-user and reduce technology adoption frictions with these augmented product attributes.

and Familiar

Allow users to continue using existing systems, tools, processes, and methods as much as you can.

Trial Before Commitment

Allow users and buyers to try your product and realize its value before committing the full investment.

Standards and Certification

Adhere to well-known industry standards that similar vendors work to support... or become the de-facto standard.

Endorsements or Sponsorhips

Recruit recognized organizations to support your product/innovation through sponsorships or endorsements.

Market Category Cooperation

Show your prospective customers credibility and commitment with the market you're in with these augmented product attributes.

IP and Patents

Use a trusted channel of sales and delivery that is well known and familiar.

Complimentary Products

Ensure complementary products, tools, and services are offered.

Complete Solution with Support

Offer a pre-configured solution with an integrated ecosystem, plus comprehensive support.

Trusted Channels

Allow buyers to be aware of your product and offer through their familiar and trusted distribution channels.

Safety in Numbers

Build and demonstrate external safeguards for the risk-averse majority with these augmented product attributes.


Prevent users from thinking about the technology orphans risk. Create a completely independent long-term support infrastructure.

and Privacy

Prove independent safeguards that ensure both security and privacy.

Peer-To-Peer Communication

Enable exchange of unbiased information through a user-controlled community..

Visible or Word-Of-Mouth References

Facilitate WOM recommendations from people the user knows
and trusts.

Early Adopters
Validate new possibilities
Allow access to incoplete products
Sell through communities
Sell your
Technology vision and capital raising
Gain competitive advantage
Partner to get custom feedback and co-build
Use direct, consultative
Sell the gains and opportunities your product provides
Core product building + market empathy
Solve a specific problem
Deliver a complete solution with support
Transition to
Sell market leadership
or wins
Management + business building
Crawl ahead safely

Provide a standardized solution
Use transactional selling
Sell your company stability, track record, team.
Management + operations efficiency
Adopt when unavoidable
Embed your
Use low-cost, transactional
Sell customer control and total cost of ownership
Management + financial efficiency
InnovatorS - Characteristics
Innovators are adventurous and adopt new technologies or ideas simply because they are the new cool thing. Technology and innovation are central interests in their life. The innovator’s goal is to explore new things and find opportunities to be an agent of change.
Early adopters are visionary leaders pursuing innovations to achieve a breakthrough that will give them a competitive advantage in their industry or company. They are willing to learn and provide feedback. Also, they love gaining new knowledge and an edge over their peers.
The early majority are value-conscious individuals that want to simplify what they already do. They don’t like leading, taking risks, or being the first to try something new. The early majority look for innovations or products that already carry the endorsement of early adopters and peers.
The late majority is very cautious about any change but also wants to avoid the penalties of not adopting new solutions. They seek to minimize the uncertainty of outcomes. People in this group want proof of the product’s advantage and costs from similar businesses or peers they know closely.
Laggards value traditional methods of doing things and refuse to adopt a new technology until they are forced to through obsolescence of their former system. They hold out to the bitter end.
Risk/Value Profile
Innovators are willing to take risks and are viewed by their peers as risk-takers. They are fascinated with novelty and take substantial risks on unfinished products.

Innovators often buy a vision of possibility rather than a product. They are willing to tolerate very high pain levels to achieve the vision.
Cost-benefit Analysis
Risk Avoidance
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