Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mark Everson, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. As you may know, these are the announced Republican candidates for president of the United States as of this writing. There are more who are expected to announce their candidacies in the coming days as well.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get political on you. You’ll have plenty of that from others over the next 18 months. What I want to talk about is the concept that I find most fascinating so far in the political race: candidates working to differentiate themselves within such a crowded field. With 16 candidates running from one party, it can be hard to know which candidate stands for which issue and is best-suited to what the voter is looking for. This same challenge exists in increasingly crowded marketplaces in business. Here are some tips to consider when developing any kind of brand strategy.
Keep on evolving.
The most successful businesses are the ones that are never satisfied with standing still and keep their eyes looking ahead at where they want to be. We recently had a call with an existing client to discuss what’s on his plate and what he’s looking for over the next year. He essentially said, “What you guys did last year was great. The team and I got a lot out of it, but we don’t want that again. What are you doing new this year?” That sort of question is increasingly common, and it’s important that every client-facing employee has an answer to it. And ideally, that new thing is enabling you to …
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Do something unique.
Many of the biggest companies grew by offering something that no one else did at the time. FedEx started guaranteeing package delivery by the next day. Amazon revolutionized shopping, and Facebook … well, Facebook created something that no one knew they wanted, filled a need that no one knew they had, and turned that into a company valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Of course, not every company is Facebook, and not every entrepreneur is Mark Zuckerberg – but that doesn’t mean that every company can’t do something unique. At Six Degrees, it’s the incorporation of psycho-sensory tools and techniques into what we do. At your company, it can be anything you choose. If you don’t already have a differentiator, get inspired and find an unfilled need, then fill that niche.
Keep an eye on the competition.
If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, then there’s no way to know if the service that you offer is differentiated. At Six Degrees, we work with clients to conduct a competitive brand audit, and we also turn that eye on ourselves, always keeping a pulse on what others in the industry are up to. Competitive brand audits provide a great opportunity to try to learn about other best practices, as well as to find the service/product gaps that are just waiting to be filled.
Do all of these things well!
This may be the most obvious but most important brand differentiator of all. It doesn’t help to do something unique or evolve into something new if it’s done poorly or leaves clients dissatisfied. Clients may not remember every positive facet of an interaction that they have with a company, but they will certainly remember any failures. Negativity bias refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g., unpleasant thoughts, emotions or social interactions, or harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive experiences. In other words, a generally positive experience will be less memorable and impactful than something equally negative. Ruby Newell-Legner, a customer satisfaction expert, shares that “It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.”
Whether you are launching a new startup, running an established business or running for president, keep these brand differentiation tips in mind to help set your brand apart. If you have any other great tips, please share in the comments section below (and of course, remember to vote)!