There are many ways to be different from other brands. Of course there is always your product or service that is different, your story behind it is different, your brand and your logo will look different, your images will be different - you will add some uniqueness to your business because you are unique.
However how do you really differentiate your brand from all the others out there? With the world having become so small and brands being accessible basically from everywhere it might seem so difficult to stand out from the crowd. There are so many brands on social media and the internet and it might seem overwhelming. It seems like there is always someone else who is doing what you are doing and who is similar. However I am telling you there is room for you. And you are different. Not only because of yourself as a person and your unique story but I think there is one huge way to differentiate your brand from everybody else. And that is by being CONSISTENT!
If you prefer to watch the content in video format, head over to my Facebook page and watch the live video I did on how to stand out from the crowd -> HERE!
The first step to differentiate your brand from the crowd is to really understand your audience. You need to know who your ideal customer or client is.
Knowing your audience
If you have a business already you need to find out as much about who your current audience is as possible. And if you are just starting out or don’t have a big business yet, you need to define your ideal audience.
I recommend looking at these points - and anything else that might be relevant to your specific business of course:
Who - female, male
What is their age?
Where do they live
What is their family status?
What do they like?
What do they dislike?
What are their hobbies?
What is their daily routine?
Where they shop?
When they shop?
How they shop? For example online? Or department stores? Or small boutiques?
Why do they go to the stores they go to?
Do they listen to recommendations?
What are their problems in regards to your product or service?
Why would they need your product or service?
For a product: where do they buy similar products now? Why there? When?
If you are offering a service: have they used something like your service before? When? How? Whom?
I have also prepared a checklist for you which will help you to define your ideal customer. You can download it by signing up below!
Knowing your competition
Now you also need to look at your competition and understand them. How are they different? And why do people shop there? Why might your ideal customer go there instead of coming to you?
Or another good questions to find out the answer is: why does your customer come to you instead of going to them?
You might have a great strength that you don’t know about!
Decide on one part of your brand you want to concentrate on
I assume that you have some branding and a logo etc in place and you have really observed your audience and your ideal customer.
Now I would recommend to (at least in the beginning) decide on one part of your brand that you want to concentrate on and play it big. Decide on one part that will make you stand out.
Here are some examples of what I mean or it could be:
Making your brand about you – humanizing a brand Some brands are actually build around the owner or a person. So take for example Amy Porterfield (she is an online marketing expert for entrepreneurs) her brand is totally about her. She is the face of the brand, she is the one doing all the podcasts, she is the one doing all the courses, of course she has a team but as a customer you think you are only buying from her. On top of that she always has the same look, tone of voice, she is very consistent with her message about herself and her brand. This could be an option for you.
Choosing one bold color (eg. Tiffany) I wrote a blog post about owning a color last week (link) and a good example here is Tiffany’s. They use the robin’s egg blue to perfection. It is everywhere and very bold and I think many of us don’t even know what the actual logo looks like but all of us know the little blue box..You could take this as an example and take one bold color that you use everywhere and boldly. Even if you don’t choose a bold color, just by using one specific color consistently you will stand out from the crowd.
Your voice is also part of your brand. You can determine whether you want to be funny or serious, educational or bold. Once you have chosen a type of voice you just need to stay consistent and use the same language everywhere. And you can also stand out like that. Take for example Gary Vaynerchuck, he uses very strong language and not everyone agrees with it or likes it BUT he stands out! And in the entrepreneurial world people most people know him, even if they don’t know his logo.
You could decide to share your unique story. And use it over and over again. A good example here is the shoes TOMS. For every pair of shoes you buy they will donate one pair to a person in need. Even if you have never bought from TOMS you will probably have heard about them and their story. You might not know their logo and colors BUT you most likely know their story and that’s what matters in this case. Their product is simple and so is their branding but their story is huge.
Having fantastic, yet simple branding - everywhere
For example Apple does this amazingly. Whatever people actually think of Apple’s products they still pay a premium because it is Apple. A huge part plays the simplicity of their design. This includes their brand, marketing, website and things like their product packaging. And it also includes the clean and minimal design of their products and its accessories. Apple’s designs are simplicity to its perfection. That’s why they stand out and that’s why people love them.
Being the first - who executes big and bold and concentrates on one aspect of their business.
A great example for this one is Amazon. I am sure that there were other online book stores before amazon. However amazon went big and they delivered on their promises of being fast and reliable with fantastic customer service - all the time.
Here are two quotes by Jeff Bezos, the founder of amazon:
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
And they stuck to these ideas consistently:
“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business.”
Finally: be super consistent
Once you have decided on your branding and the part of your brand you want to concentrate on, stay super super consistent. In everything you do.
If you look at big brand you will notice that they do this really well. They look and feel the same everywhere and in everything! On their products, their online presence, their presence in stores, their marketing – everywhere. And whenever possible they use the same logo, colors, fonts, style, customer service etc etc. However they are also consistent in other ways, for example customer service, the way their staff is trained and speaks, the music they play in their stores, the kind of models they have and the list goes on.
If you think about Starbucks for example, they even have the same smell in all their shops around the world.
I have written down a list of all the parts of your brand where you need to remember to be consistent.
Logo - use the same logo with the same color whenever possible
Colors - choose 3-5 colors (or less or more, depending on your brand) and use only them in the same ways
Fonts - choose 2-3 fonts and use them everywhere
your voice - the way you (and your employees) speak and write
the style of images you use everywhere on your website, marketing material, social media - they need to be the same tones, colors and style
showing up – where you show up, how and how often (eg. Social media)
your brand values - communicate your brand values throughout your whole company and any partners who need to know about it so that you can always follow them
Examples for brand values are: quality, great customer service, integrity, teamwork, innovation, environmental friendly, diversity, passion, to name just a few ideas.
the story you are telling and want to bring across
the kind of customer service you want to deliver - this related to brand values but I wanted to mention is specifically as it is so important to stay consistent here
Extras you offer – eg. Free trainings or talks, additional things that bring value to your customers (for example if you are a swim school you could give free first aid sessions on a quarterly basis) and / or your employees
Overall you should always think about your customers, what they would like, the kind of help they really need and then act accordingly in a super consistent way.
And some additional tips are to be super authentic and real! Everything seems so perfect in the online world and in other businesses. And people love real people and authenticity. They love to relate.
And secondly, risk to do things differently. Just because everyone else is doing something or your competition is doing something specific, does not mean that you have to do the same. Take risks and explore. Make mistakes and realign. Keep on learning and exploring!
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments below, I always love to hear from you.
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