In an often oversaturated marketplace, the name of the game is brand differentiation. Everyone talks about finding your Unique Selling Proposition, which is easy if you have a brand new product, but how do you set yourself apart when you’re providing a service or product that is not completely unique? That is where smart branding comes in. Here are seven ways to make your brand stand out from the competition:
1. Tell Your Story
Consumers who have an emotional connection to a brand are much more likely to be loyal to that product or service. One way to create a connection is to tell your brand’s story in a way that reflects your core values. Hickory Farm’s brand is all about wholesome goodness, and they tell the story of their founding more than 60 years ago in a way that emphasizes simplicity and authenticity. Amway dealt with blows to their brand image by confronting the issues head-on, a move that gave them the opportunity to present their story and showcase pride in their vision, which is “to help people live better lives.”
2. Be a Visual Stand Out
Make your brand stand out with a unique logo and then use that logo everywhere. Brands like Target, Nike, McDonald’s and Apple are instantly recognizable from just their logo. They each have basic, bold images that are inextricably linked to their products.
3. Be Consistent
Whether it is your logo or your brand voice, you must maintain consistency across all forms of communication. People relate to the personality of a brand, which is only achievable if the voice is reliable. Lush makeup has a warm, personal vibe from their visuals, to their social media presence, to their in-store experience (they offer free samples on almost all products), all of which has led to a huge following.
4. Emphasize Customer Service
The value of outstanding customer service cannot be underestimated. Customer service not only serves as its own marketing tool through word of mouth, but is the key to customer retention. Zappos made customer service its priority from the beginning, offering free shipping and returns, and 24-hour customer service.
5. Offer Alternative Pricing
You can differentiate your brand through pricing in three general ways. You can offer a lower price point that the competition, premium pricing for high quality brands, or offer a unique pricing scheme. Starbucks, for example, has a higher price point than competitors so that consumers view it as a higher quality product.
6. Find a Niche Market
This may seem like you are excluding potential customers, but by defining your target market narrowly, you reach that group and anyone who aspires to that group. T-Mobile stands out from its competitors by focusing on a young, urban audience who does not want to be tied down by a cellular company. By doing this, they are able to reach this demographic and also people who want to see themselves as being in this demographic (and who doesn’t want to be young and hip?).
7. Create Partnerships
More and more, brands are creating partnerships with brands in non-competing industries to reach more customers. For example, Cleveland coffee shop Six Shooter teamed with local breweries to develop coffee stouts, thus widening their brand reach.