Differentiation – how to stand out in a crowded market

The pandemic has thrown into question lots of new challenges for businesses. The way we work, the way we deliver our products or services and how we all stay connected and engaged to name just a few. One thing it’s thrown up for many right now, is how to stand out amongst the plethora of other, often similar, businesses out there and sometimes it can seem like a battle to make ourselves heard. So how do you stand out for all the right reasons? B4 members Nick Hughes and Sarah Wyatt share their insights…
Sarah Wyatt, Juicy Designs
Sarah Wyatt, Juicy Designs

Sarah Wyatt, brand and communications specialist at Juicy Designs says: “Now more than ever, is the time to differentiate yourself. To be known for something. We’re all consumers of products and services, and the noise of ‘stuff’ vying for our attention is often deafening. So being able to articulate quickly and clearly what your organisations unique story is and what’s in it for your customers, is vital to being heard and responded to.

The starting point however, is not always where you might imagine. It’s not in producing a website, a brochure or yet another email. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t start with any ‘piece’ of communication. The place to start is by taking a step back so you can see the bigger picture – your company as a whole, where it stands now and where you want to be – followed by a good, honest look at what you really stand for as a business and how you want to be seen.

From there you can root out and define your core brand values – your company’s DNA if you like – which is one of the fundamental things you need in place to connect and attract the kind of customers you actually want to be working with. Brand values give your company a clear purpose and direction, guiding your choices and the actions you take as a business. They can help keep you on track when important decisions need to be made and they’re what make your business unique.

The key thing with brand values is not just to have a bunch of random words that you associate with your organisation, although this is a great starting point. It’s about getting REALLY clear on what those words mean specifically to your company and ensuring everyone you work with is on the same page. That’s where the real gold is.

Mailchimp
Mailchimp

Once your brand values are established, they need to be visually and verbally translated into something tangible, so when someone comes into contact with your brand they can quickly understand what’s different about you. Your logo is probably the first thing you think of when you hear the term ‘branding’ and this should indeed say something about you but what about the typefaces you use? Are you using arial for everything or have you chosen a set of complimentary fonts that reflect your company’s personality and attitude? The same careful consideration needs to be applied to the colours and image style you choose too. Are you using stock images that look very staged or might an illustrative style tell more of a story? Mailchimp is a great example of a company using all these elements to help them stand out (mailchimp.com).

One area that often gets overlooked is tone of voice i.e.: how you say what you say and making sure it’s always developed with your customer (not you) in mind. Take a look at how AKT Deodorant (www.aktlondon.com) and the Dollar Shave Club (uk.dollarshaveclub.com) speak for instance – they definitely talk in different, individual and stand out ways, and for good reason. It’s an integrated part of their strategy to shape how they’re being perceived by others.

AKT Deodorant
Dollar Shave Club

Used together, and in a consistent way to help build trust, the elements that make up your brand and visual identity play a powerful role in moulding the image you’re sending out to the world and as such, form the basis for real stand out in a crowded market. Apply these same principles to how you talk about your specific product or service as well, along with carefully selecting the right channels to reach your target audience, and you’re onto a winner.”

So, you have put the time and effort into defining your brand values through, visuals, tone and positioning in your particular market to stand out, but what’s next asks, Nick Hughes, Sales Mentor at Dynamic Coach.

Nick Hughes, Dynamic Coach
Nick Hughes, Dynamic Coach

“Well, this is where many businesses start to unravel. The work they have put in to create their brand to make them standout, very often gets forgotten about when we go out and about to start engaging with clients and potential customers.

Individuals and organisations start to present their business in terms of ‘what they do’ and not ‘why they do it’, or ‘what they stand for’. Remember those brand values? They stand for who your business is, why you do what you do, what you are passionate about, what makes your business tick, what’s important to you. These are the connectors that the self-aware, savvy, educated client you want to attract are subconsciously looking for.

So why is that? If the customer or client can see and understand what differentiates you from the competition or crowd, and values this, then you are well on your way to winning them over. They are engaging with you, your brand and why your business ‘exists’, you are not selling your business’s service or product to them, they have bought in to your brand and everything it stands for, much more than the alternatives. The stronger the brand, the easier the sell.

Google
Google

I hate to use the cliché but think of Google. Yes, they are huge and have a marketing and branding budget to match I’m sure, but fundamentally huge swathes of society have bought into the brand, its core values, it tone, what it stands for, how its works and ultimately why it exists.

So back to why it’s important you understand your brand values to aid creating those differentiating points. The fact is, if you don’t, the sales conversation can very quickly turn to the price of your service or product. Which means from here on in you are either defending your position or in a race to the bottom line to win the client or business over the competition. Creating differentiation can create value in every business large or small. Sometimes it’s not easy to find but it’s worth spending the time establishing your uniqueness and creating those elements will always lead to a stronger sales offering.

The key is bringing people into your business or developing existing employees who share those values, views and mindsets. Find them and you find the nuggets that make your revenue growth stronger and quicker.”

Dynamic Sales Coach

Developing today's sales individuals into your sales professionals of tomorrow.

Nick Hughes

Director - Mentor & Sales Trainer

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