The Case for Differentiation…Or Not

I am going to start by saying “throw your thought process of differentiation out the window.”

Sometimes we have to approach differentiation differently than we typically would. I was recently collaborating on a new project with two friends, and we began to talk about other brands that were exceptionally great at what they did as well as having longevity. One of my friends alluded to the fact that we should not focus on other brands and why they are so great, but should focus on our own awesomeness (yes, awesomeness) and how we can be even better. Of course this stuck in my brain, and hence is the reason why I am blogging about it – but too often we look at the success and image of other brands, set a benchmark, try to achieve their success, and forget about building upon our own unique traits. Here are some simple brand tips (for companies & individuals) on being true to yourself while staying at the head of the pack.

  1. Establish A Unique Brand. “There is nothing new under the sun…” or is there? It’s no secret that many companies offer either similar products or similar services. While we may change a few things (color, packaging, customer benefits, etc…), the product or service may not be very different at all. But we call it “differentiation.” To truly differentiate yourself (or make yourself stand out from the competition), take a back to basics approach and examine your unique DNA. Ask yourself (or team) “Why do we exist? What is our purpose? Who do we want to be?” The answers to these questions shouldn’t be based on the performance of another company’s success, but should be based on the reasons that are core to your company and the feelings you’d like your customers to have about you.
  2. Communicate Effectively. I am not going to blab to you about what communication tool I think works best for you. But I am going to tell you to examine the tools that are available while LISTENING TO and LEARNING what your customers want the most. How do they communicate and where do they fit into your brand? Once you know, integrate those tools into your business process and trust that the tools will help you share your message effectively while creating a direct link between you and your customers. Click here for a list of effective communication tools.
  3. Be Yourself. As individuals and brands, we tend to be stimulated by others’ image and success – which can either be great by fueling our creative energy or can go terribly bad if we want to “fit in.” If you’ve got green skin with a carrot top, believe me – you stand out, and you’re probably not going for a traditional approach. Tap into who you are and your uniqueness, combine it with effective communication and what you love to do – your passion. You can be confident that who you’re looking for will be sure to find you.
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