In the era we live in today, the world is drowning in brands. Even if only a fraction of those businesses compete with yours, that’s an overwhelming number to deal with in an age where information is plentiful and digital exchanges are commonplace. Nowadays, drawing the attention of the target audience is easier said than done. The large number of brands existing makes the market competitive and differentiating yourself becomes even more difficult.
Difficult, but not impossible. Effective differentiation is one of the main challenges small businesses face, as they are forced to compete against the big companies. That is why it is of great importance to have a brand that stands out. The following pointers may help you getting on the right track at not getting lost in the crowd.
First of all, it is quite reasonable that your brand needs to be original in order to stand out. If you attempt to mimic a competitor’s brand, people won’t have a compelling reason to choose you instead of that other brand. If your messaging relies on clichés and sales talk, it is not going to resonate with any of your customers. Instead, find an angle that nobody has taken before, and develop an image and voice that are wholly your own. Be original, be different!
Focus on your strengths
In order to be able to distinguish your brand from the others, you need to identify what skills make you different. Focus on your strengths as your unique selling point instead of trying to be all things to all people. Become a specialists at a select few services that will enable you to provide excellent service to your customers, deliver a memorable brand experience and ultimately ensure your brand stands above the rest.
Tell your story
One of the key things to remember when it comes to making your brand stand out is to ensure that you tell your story. The world is full of brands, so in order for yours to stand out, people need to know how your brand got to where it is today, what path you went through, and what the core principles of your work are. Ensuring your brand communicates all of this can be tricky, so take your time and make sure your brand captures you, your business and its ethos. Essentially, your essence.
Show your personality
When telling the story behind your brand, it is important to let your personality shine through. Your audience enjoys seeing and hearing the people behind the business and the brand. Reminding your customers that there are real people behind it all makes the brand more likeable and personable. Ultimately, consumers will buy more from businesses they know, trust, and like. Because of this, it’s important to get into the emotional side of branding. Personality gives your brand human characteristics. It personifies your brand, makes it more relatable and enhances the connection with your clients.
Offer a brand experience
Customer service is another meaningful way which with you can distinguish your brand. The belief that customer service only matters in the service industry is a myth. Around 75% of customers state that they consider customer service a true test of a company’s competence. Your customers need to have a positive encounter each and every time they use your product or service and this goes beyond visuals. It is everything from how you answer the phone, to your employees, to the feeling people have when they think of your business. Delivering a positive brand experience to your customers will ensure you are memorable and give you an edge over your competitors.
Obviously, if people aren’t seeing your brand, they won’t be able to respond to it in any way. The only way to build your reputation is to make your brand as visible as possible. Leverage different opportunities to diversify your strategy. For example, you might post content on external publications to build your reputation, launch a social media strategy or invest heavily in advertising and promoted materials. The bottom line is that you need media to promote your messaging, otherwise, it won’t matter how appealing that messaging is.
Provide Value to Your Customers
Brands can also stand out by offering more value to their customers than their competitors do. It could be done in many different ways, and you can start by giving a better product and better customer service than your competitors. Try to not only meet but exceed your clients’ needs.
Know your competitors and target audience
To be able to let your brand stand out, you need to be aware of your environment. Besides undergoing a competitive research to see who your competitors are, you also have to know your customers.
Branding starts and ends with your customers, so you must get clear about them. In fact, your customers are at the centre of your brand story. You can help your customers get what they want by figuring out where you fit into that story. Start by defining your target audience: Know their age, location, gender, interests, income level, occupation, and education. Hypothesise what your customers want and what motivates them. Sometimes it's better to target than to be everything for everybody. Knowing your target audience is therefore a crucial step in building your brand voice and personality.
Use Social Media and work with Influencers
With billions of everyday users, social media can help any business target their audience, find new clients, and build brand awareness. Social media is rapidly becoming one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, which provides incredible benefits that help reach millions of customers worldwide. Creating an influential digital presence is the key to creating persuasive and appealing content that will connect your audience instantly.
You can even go a step further and work with influencers to reach out to potential new clients on the web. Working with influencers is a common practice for many businesses these days. Bloggers from YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook can reach millions of people from all around the world at once, and can get your brand more social trust and can increase your brand recall.
One of the best tactics to make your brand stand out is to be transparent. It means not only showing off when you’re successful, but also being open about failures and unfortunate outcomes. Every business makes its fair share of mistakes, bad decisions and wrong opportunity interpretations, but not everyone feels comfortable talking about them, especially not in public. If you can overcome that feeling and start having difficult conversations with your customers, teammates, executives, stakeholders and the industry at large, it can help you and your company become recognized as one of the authorities and game-changers in your niche.
Transparency should become one of the main principles of your marketing strategy and you should stay honest with your customers every step of their journey, from conveying clear messages through your website to resolving customer support issues in a transparent fashion. Transparency is also key to developing trust and fostering loyalty from your employees, clients, customers and stakeholders.
The glue that pulls all the other elements together is brand consistency. It takes time for your target audience to become aware of you, remember you, and trust you. You can shorten this process by being consistent. You need to be consistent in all aspects of branding your purpose, your values, tone of voice, personality, etc. Being consistent in branding is much easier when you have prepared the key brand messaging statements.
The bottom line
Following trends and trying to outperform competitors by doing the same things they do and simply hoping that your products will be recognized by millions is not enough to make your brand stand out in an overcrowded market.
Instead, try to truly understand your industry and audience and start doing things differently. Don’t shy away from experimenting with new approaches, being transparent and starting meaningful conversations. To increase your chances of success even more, know exactly what you stand for and act upon your core values with social, ethical and moral responsibility in mind. Next to that, don’t just offer value to your customers, but offer a whole customer experience. Also, be visible and consistent.
To put it simply: trust in your brand, let its uniqueness shine through and let the world know what you stand for.