Your Brand Must Be DISTINCT

So you want to win in a crowded market. You even believe you have a “better” product! But, do you really? By what measure? Who decides? Is it even close? Is your product or service actually innovative, or did you just tweak a few things? 'Better' is subjective and fleeting. Someone else can come along and one up you in a the blink of an eye. Better is now, NOT everlasting. Unless you have a patented innovation that no one else can copy for 20 yrs, you’re going to have to do a lot better than “better”. Great products or services are essential, but you must find a way to stand out.

Differentiation can be the answer, and positioning your business against the competition is a strong way to begin to carve out your market. Book after book, “guru” after “guru” will pronounce that you must be “different”. But how truly different can you be if your business isn’t inherently different? What if you compete in the world of ‘local grass fed beef burger’ restaurants, insurance companies, craft brews, running shoes, or cars (quick what’s the difference between a Ford Mustang and a Chevy Camaro?)

Different is for the few. Distinctiveness however, can be for anyone.

Let’s use Nike and Under Armour as examples. How different are their products, the athlete’s that endorse them, their focus on innovation, the retailers who sell them or the sports they design for? Not very. 

So how might we explain Under Armour’s ability to become a juggernaut in the sporting world, eclipsing the likes of Reebok and Adidas here in the US? Their focus in the early days on compression gear helped build the foundation, but they were able to grab market share across all product lines by offering a tangible and distinct image from Nike and every other sporting company on the market. 

Where Nike is the ‘greek god that unleashes the athlete in all of us’, Under Armour is ‘the fearless warrior who takes no prisoners and protects their house’. What do Adidas, Reebok, Wilson, etc, stand for? I for one can’t think of a single thing. Under Armour dared to truly challenge Nike with brute force and a distinct message that reverberated throughout the locker room and playing field. Now they are one of the most sought after and admired sporting good companies in the USA.

So how do you win or exceed your goals for your brand?

Have vision. Be bold. Innovate. Be different when you can and better as often as possible. These things will help. But if you really want to stand out, build awareness, drive interest and generate word of mouth?

Be so interesting they can’t ignore you. Be remarkable. Be distinct.