Whatever you do, be different.
"Whatever you do, be different… If you’re different, you will stand out.” — Anita Roddick
The most important part of the branding process is uncovering and communicating what makes your business unique. It’s easy to look around and copy what someone else in your industry is doing but nothing is worse than becoming a ‘me too’ brand when you’re capable of coming up with something original and substantive.
I’ve had so many people come to me requesting a similar layout and combinations of fonts, colours and imagery that they have seen someone else in their industry using with success. I get it. It’s tempting to emulate other people’s work because - hey, if it worked for them, why not you too right?
But the truth is that it’s not going to work for you. Because the reason that their brand is resonating so strongly is because it’s different from everything else out there. You can knock off the visuals but you can never knock off the creative process that gave it life along the way. It’s the substance underneath that is the result of developing your own unique point of view and contribution that will set you a part from everyone else. Brand development is hard work because you have to go really deep into process to come up with something that looks really simple on the surface.
As Brené Brown says, "creativity is straddling the tension, leaning into the discomfort and finding your way through the dark.” But before you go and get yourself scared of the dark…This doesn’t mean that you have to go where no woman has gone before. Even an ‘everywoman’ can differentiate and you can do it by focusing on what your clients care about rather than focusing on yourself. As yourself, “what, from your unique perspective, with your unique life experience and point of view, can you contribute to this conversation?”
Critique, question, break it down. And there you may find your golden opportunity to contribute something unique.
From there, you can continue to develop your own unique brand that will actually work for you because you will have done the hard work of digging deep and refining your ideas around how you can serve a particular group in a unique way. Here are a number of ways that you can go about differentiating your business to stand out.
solve a specific challenge for a niche
develop a unique process or method for working with people
focus on a specific geographic area and design a great in-person customer experience
focus on creating a unique atmosphere and environment (if you have a brick and mortar location)
offer a distinctive level of service by anticipating needs and going over and above the expected
integrate your values and let them shape your methods of production and service in ways that have not been done in the past (lots of room for sustainability practices here)
differentiate through design by looking and sounding different than all of your competitors
To differentiate yourself, you need to know what else is out there in order to avoid replicating it. It can feel frightening sometimes to be different but never underestimate the beauty and the substance that you will uncover when you trust in your own ability to contribute something unique to the people you care about enough to serve. There will always be room for improvement in every field, industry, product or service category. Find out what your customers care about and use it to make your offerings better.
Do that and soon people will be copying you left, right and centre.
To your unbridled success,