You can’t expect to enjoy any level of success if your business plays it safe. To engage customers on a meaningful level, you have to create a unique brand, take some risks, and convey a compelling message to your customers in powerful, visceral ways.
If you were to walk into a store and stare at a cabinet full of different smartphones without any sort of logos or branding, you’d be miffed. You wouldn’t have any clue where to start looking or which phone to buy. While you could go through and test them out one by one, even these personal evaluations would leave you wondering which one is the best, most reliable, fastest, highest-rated, etc. With no identifying factors, names, or brand logos, you’d have trouble differentiating one product from the next.
If brand identifiers were taken out of the equation, customers suddenly wouldn’t know how to act. It removes the trigger in the brain that tells them, “This is why the product is unique.”
As marketer Paul June explains, “Your brand story is what makes you unique, and it’s your ability to communicate that story – the unique qualities of your brand that bring value to your customers – that makes audiences connect emotionally to you.”
Branding is a critical piece to the puzzle, but it has to be approached with some strategic forethought and planning. You can’t just develop a brand. You need to create a brand that’s unique enough to set your product apart and communicate to buyers “this” is why you should pull out your wallet.
Brand differentiation can happen on many different levels. It isn’t just a single factor– it’s a combination of multiple elements working together to deliver a unique flavor or experience that appeals to your target customers and moves them towards you and away from the competition.
If you’re unsure of where to start, here are a few areas of your marketing and branding that you can make unique:
You can differentiate with the product or service itself. By creating a proprietary product that offers features, benefits, or solutions that no other products on the marketplace currently provide, you communicate to your customers that your brand is unique.
is an example of a brand that offers a unique product. As opposed to traditional marketplaces like Craigslist – where there’s no protection – or dealer-specific sites and platforms – where there’s a vested interest in the transaction – Swap Motors offers an independent, yet secure online marketplace for private buyers and sellers to come together and complete transactions. And with certified “swap centers” and third-party evaluations, the entire experience is unlike anything another brand in this space is offering at the moment.
Whether you’re selling a service like Swap Motors, or a physical product, there are always options for making your brand unique. Go out and seize them.
Sometimes there’s nothing proprietary about the products you’re selling, but unique branding doesn’t stop here. You can also set your brand apart with something like customer service.
Zappos is a classic example. While they don’t necessarily sell anything unique – just shoes from other brands – they’ve set their brand apart as having exceptional customer service. As a result, people are far more inclined to do business with Zappos than a competitor who lacks a reputation for friendly and helpful support.
On the surface level, you can make your brand unique by developing recognizable logos, color schemes, packaging, and messaging. While this is often the first thing inexperienced marketers turn to, it’s actually one of the more difficult elements to differentiate with.
In order to thrive with visual differentiation, you have to (a) design compelling brand imagery and (b) procure maximum exposure. And it’s this latter part of the equation that’s especially challenging.
Without a big budget, lots of connections, and a well-developed strategy, you’ll never get enough exposure to differentiate on visuals alone. You should certainly take the time to develop a unique logo and compelling color scheme, but plan on using it in tandem with a unique product and exceptional customer service.
Unique branding is what will set your product apart from the competition and draw customers into your brand. Without a differentiating factor, you’ll simply blend in with your surroundings and run the risk of falling into anonymity.