Doreen Wang, global head/BrandZ - an annual study published by Millward Brown that identifies the 100 most valuable brands worldwide - discussed this topic at the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands Round Table event in New York.
"In a world of so much product sameness, being different makes the difference," she said. (For more, including further tips for building brand value, read Warc's exclusive report: Ten lessons from a decade of BrandZ.)
Drawing on data from the ten BrandZ reports published since 2006, she asserted that the top 50 members of this elite group logged a "difference" score of 139 points and saw their net worth increase by 124%.
The bottom 50, by contrast, registered figures of 96 points and 24% on the same metrics respectively, indicating how significant this factor can be.
Some of the characteristics that consumers associate with "difference" include creativity, trustworthiness and the perception of being "in control".
Apple, Wang suggested, is the "ultimate example" of an operator that has built "meaningful difference" through mixing these traits with consistent innovation - and its value increased by 1,446%, to $247bn, over the last decade.
Expanding on this theme, she argued that formulating and implementing a "purpose" which enriches the lives of consumers is an especially effective way of standing out.
"Being different is not for the sake of difference. Difference needs to correspond to the brand proposition," she said.
As evidence of this, Millward Brown's data show that having a well-articulated purpose boosts brand equity - a key indicator that consumers will buy a brand, pay more for it, or maybe both.
"Brands with a strong purpose help accelerate brand equity," Wang informed the event audience.
"Those brands with a purpose which is beyond making money: they understand why they exist, how to improve consumers' lives and how to make the world a better place. These are the brands that achieve faster value growth."
Data sourced from Warc