No matter how original your business idea seems, chances are, there are at least a handful of other businesses like yours already in operation. And while it’s tempting to keep your head down and make your products and services as good as they can possibly be, ignoring your competition can set you up for failure.
If you want to be truly successful, you need to be aware of how your competition is operating, and find a way to differentiate your brand.
Why Standing Out Is So Important
So why is standing out among the crowd so important?
- With a dozen or more companies like yours competing for visibility through marketing and advertising, you’ll quickly become irrelevant unless you have a signature way to cut through the noise.
- Why would someone remember your brand, specifically? Offering something unique to your shared customer base means your customers will be more likely to think of you when they have needs you can fulfill.
- Customer loyalty. Differentiation is also important for customer loyalty. If your customers can’t tell the difference between you and your competitors, they won’t be incentivized to return to your brand, specifically.
How to Differentiate Your Brand From Similar Competitors
Now, let’s turn our attention to some of the strategies you can use to differentiate yourself:
- Get plastic business cards. Having a unique business card to hand your prospective client, or a new customer, can make an immediate difference. For example, a strong plastic business card with a signature cut or an impressively designed layout can make an immediately positive first impression with a new contact—and instantly distinguish you from your competitors. These unique business cards tend to cost a little more than standard stock, but they’re worth the investment.
- Be creative with your logo and signage. You can make a similarly striking first impression by committing to a unique logo, and signage to match if you have a physical storefront. If your logo looks like every other company on the market, people aren’t going to remember you. But if you have one that’s sleekly designed, or one that defies industry norms, you’ll immediately get their attention.
- Craft a unique brand voice. Standing out on social media, and through your marketing materials is easier when you have a signature brand “voice” to tie all your work together. Your voice is a combination of the tone, the vocabulary, and the types of messages you use to convey ideas to your audience. You’ll want to tailor those parameters to your target audience, but also include enough variables to distinguish your brand from those of your competitors.
- Consider targeting a different niche audience. If you have lots of competitors targeting a general audience, consider making yourself more relevant by drilling down to target a specific niche. For example, you might target a different segment of demographics, or customers in a different phase of the buying cycle.
- Do something better. In the course of your business, you should strive to do at least one thing better than all your competitors. For example, you might offer lower prices, or your products might come stacked with more innovative features. You might even offer more personalized customer service. Whatever you decide, you should work to promote that advantage as a unique selling point—and something that makes your company unique.
- Launch a guerrilla marketing campaign. You can also get the edge by utilizing a guerrilla marketing strategy. These low-cost, innovative strategies seek to defy industry norms and encourage customers to engage with brands in new, creative ways. They’re perfect opportunities to generate attention and visibility for your brand, and depending on your industry, are unlikely to be mimicked or matched by your competitors. The key is to find a strategy that’s never been done before (or at least one that hasn’t been used by your industry).
- Improve your CSR strategy. You can also work on developing and promoting the visibility of your corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. You can spend more time volunteering in your community, rewarding your employees, and spending time and money negating your environmental impact. Not only will this help your company look different than the competition, but it could also earn you some additional customer loyalty as well.
With these strategies, you should be able to make your brand seem unique, even if it has a very similar purpose and approach as other businesses in your industry. The more you practice these differentiation methods, the more ingrained these qualities will become in your corporate culture, and the easier it will be to maintain your image as a brand. Stay consistent, keep innovating, and you’ll never need to worry about blending into the white noise of your competition.