Every resume has a skills section. It’s an opportunity to highlight your top professional attributes to attract employers. Core competencies serve the same purpose for brands and their customers.
Let’s dive into what exactly a core competency is, why you need it, and how to find it in your brand.
What are core competencies in business?
Core competencies refers to the resources, products, skills, and capabilities that give a business an advantage over its competitors. A core competency is typically something that’s hard to replicate like a unique product or a standout brand voice.
You might be wondering, "Isn’t this a value proposition? " Not exactly. While both are used to differentiate you from your competitors, competencies are what you leverage to support your value proposition.
For instance, at Uber, their value proposition is "Always on, always available." What’s their core competency? An easy-to-use app and reliable access to its services at any time of the day.
Establishing your core competencies early on is incredibly valuable, as it can inform your marketing strategy moving forward. You can use them in your messaging to attract your target audience and stand out among your competitors.
If you’re a trailblazing company with a fresh product in an underserved market, then finding your core competency will be easy to spell out.
However, if you’re in a saturated market and struggling to distinguish your brand, working on your core competencies will be key to your success.
The sooner you discover what they are, the quicker you can implement them in your marketing and sales strategies.
From an individual standpoint, everyone has core competencies that they leverage in their professional lives. When you want to land a new job, you list those competencies as skills in your resume, embed them in your LinkedIn bio, and mention them during interviews.
If you don’t know what makes you a valuable asset, you’ll be hard-pressed to convince an organization of that. With this in mind, competencies are valuable both from a personal and broader perspective.
Core Competencies Examples
Clever Marketing from Oatly
There are hundreds of vegan milk options out there. What makes Oatly stand out is its marketing.
The brand specializes in self-referential marketing campaigns that make its target audience laugh. Their ads rarely focus on the products and instead poke fun at the ads themselves.
In contrast, one of Oatly’s competitors, Planet Oat, launched a #WeSolvedMilk campaign back in 2021 and released this ad.
Unlike Oatly, they focused on product features – specifically their oat milk’s superior creaminess, then centered the commercial around that.
In a world where most ads take a product-focused approach, companies like Oatly stand out.
Incredible Value from Canva
For many years, those of us who wanted to build brand assets had to rely on products like Adobe InDesign and Sketch.
Not only did they come at a cost but they were also notoriously complex, as they were made with advanced professionals in mind. Then came Canva, a graphic design platform with thousands of free templates made for the everyday user.
Offering high-quality designs at little to no cost became one of their core competencies, stemming from their mission to make graphic design accessible to everyone.
An Innovative User-First Approach from Google
Google might have started as a search engine but it’s evolved into a one-stop-shop to meet all your digital needs – for individuals and businesses alike. From cloud storage and password management to email service and advertising, this is only a sliver of what Google has to offer.
Google’s value proposition is innovation, as evidenced by its wealth of services. Some of their core competencies include inventive products and a dedication to a user-first approach.
How can you determine a core competency?
1. Start with what you already know.
The first place to look when establishing your core competencies is your value proposition. As we mentioned before, that’s the overarching idea from which your competencies will emerge.
It’s also worth reviewing your mission statement. What does your company care about? What are its core values? From there, you can ask yourself, "How does that translate into what we offer our customers?"
2. Look at your competition.
When you’re struggling to figure something out within your brand, it’s always helpful to look across the aisle and see what your competitors are doing.
They’re a great source of information and inspiration. In this case, the question you want to ask is "What do they lack that we offer?"
It can be anything from a personalized customer experience to one-of-a-kind product features. Once you make a list of the differentiators, you’ll get a clearer picture of what
3. Reach out to your customers.
Who better to learn from than your customers?
If you’re unsure what sets you apart from your competitors, ask your customers. You can create a survey and ask questions that get to the bottom of why they chose you.
Questions like "What comes to mind when you think of our brand?" and "What do you love about our brand?" will help you get the answers you’re looking for.
Core competencies are brand differentiators that will help you create a marketing strategy that caters to your target audience and separates you from the rest.