Like it or not, your business can’t exist in a vacuum. With so many big and small brands on the market, yours has at least several competitors offering the same products or services. Is there any chance for you to steal the scene?
Stellar branding goes far beyond logos and advertising on Google and social media. The right positioning and messaging are what helps you differentiate your brand, your business and achieve scalable growth. Let’s check what you can do to succeed with that.
1. Make sure you have a UTP
As you probably know, a UTP is for a “unique trade (selling) proposition.” It’s about your brand’s specification, determining how your business can innovate in the niche. Finding and establishing a UTP is the first step to your brand’s identity for customers to choose it over competitors.
Do your best to summarize a UTP in one short and clear sentence. What makes you an expert in your niche? What will motivate customers to stay with you when they search for solutions to their problems online?
Your UTP is a powerful tool to operate and elaborate in marketing messages, communicating the desired meanings to customers. Being transparent about your exceptionalism will allow your brand to stand out. And what can help you determine a UTP of your business is competitor analysis and finding some gaps in their offers.
2. Find the gap
Competitor analysis is an integral part of every business’s marketing strategy. It gives insights, inspiration and ideas for improvement, and allows you to understand if you move on the right way with your branding marketing strategies. In the case of brand differentiation, competitor analysis can help you identify their gaps to turn them into your competitive advantage.
Case in point: Brightside
Their founder Kevin Pugar identified the gap in the sunglasses marketplace — the lack of a middle ground between luxury and cheap — and used it as a differentiating factor for his own brand of handmade sunglasses.
3. Be authentic
Your brand authenticity is the extent to which consumers perceive it as loyal, faithful, motivated by responsibility, and supporting them in being true to themselves. Together with personalization, it’s among must-follow marketing trends in 2020, so it’s little wonder that many brands struggle for this feature right now.
If you haven’t started yet, it’s high time to build authenticity so that it would reflect your brand’s identity. It’s a complicated process because brand authenticity goes beyond objective attributes (logos, website design, color schemes, social media communities, etc.). It’s about psychological and symbolic value too.
Authentic brands are true to customers personally and stand for what they stand for. The four critical components of authenticity are continuity (a brand is faithful to itself), credibility (you’re true to customers), integrity (caring and responsibility are what motivates you to work), and symbolism (you support consumers in being true to themselves). Far from all brands perceive this, and that’s your chance to stand out.
4. Work on your imagery and tone of voice
It’s one of the first ways to differentiate your brand from competitors: Choose a tone of voice that will align with your brand strategy – and align to it in your communication with consumers. Make sure you have a brand book where you’ll prescribe all the language rules to use for your business to get a personality of its own.
For example, how do you greet the audience? Do you say “hello” or “yo” in marketing messages or social media communication? Do you want your brand to sound fun, corporate, or friendly?
Your buyer personas will help you find the ideal tone of voice for your brand. Sure enough, your communication with 18-year-old sneakerheads will differ from targeting 40-year-old business executives.
Also, think of your specific brand colors like Tiffany & Co or Cadbury, or like Easyjet, who’ve made the bright orange synonymous with low-cost flights. Your custom typography could be an excellent tool for the differentiation, too, or a mascot that would be a part of your brand identity. Mascots are powerful differentiators indeed. MailChimp’s Freddie and Trello’s Taco are to name a few.
5. Tell new stories
Help your brand stand out by writing compelling stories about it. Develop and emphasize a narrative that will reinforce your business’s promise, values, and personality and deliver an emotional experience to consumers.
Every successful brand has an emotional story behind it. For example, Coca-Cola emphasizes joy and harmony in its brand stories, and Apple communicates status and luxury.
Many experts consider it the most valuable marketing asset and an essential part of establishing a company’s image. According to 5W Public Relations’ 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 71% choose brands aligned with their values; and the best way to communicate these values and differentiate yourself from others in the niche is through stellar brand storytelling.
6. Focus on social listening
You know that consumers use social media to find information about a brand. More often than not, they focus on negative comments. It doesn’t happen because your brand is so bad but because of two other reasons:
- Only one in ten happy customers leaves a positive review, while customers with a negative experience are twice or three times more likely to tell about it online.
- Many people are skeptical about positive reviews, considering them potentially fake: When researching your business, 89% of them will read negative reviews about it and your response to them.
That said, you can use social listening to differentiate your brand by responding to comments as quickly as possible and control your online reputation that way.
Social listening tools will help you monitor brand mentions and respond to them accordingly. Your response to positive comments may engage a consumer in continuing relationships with your brand and becoming your brand advocate. Your response to negative comments and addressing the issue can help you avoid negative attention and build a reputation of an outgoing brand, always ready to help.
7. Generate brand advocates
Do you know that every brand advocate generates three new customers?
It happens because 92% of people trust other consumers’ recommendations rather than traditional forms of brand promotion. And brand advocates love your brand and promote it to their friends, family, and network without any request from your side. Not only will such brand ambassadors help you get more Google reviews and build a positive brand reputation, but also differentiate your brand in the eyes of the online community.
Are there any tricks to turn happy customers into brand advocates?
- Make an extra step to interacting with them: offer to feature them on your blog, mention them in case studies, send them personal thank you emails, etc.
- Motivate your employees to become brand advocates.
- Engage customers in online contexts.
- Network and build relations with influencers in your niche to get the most out of influencer marketing for building a more loyal audience.
In a word
With so much competition on the market, it becomes more and more challenging to find ways of differentiating your brand. Still, it’s critically essential for every business willing to survive and succeed.
If you don’t know how to stand out from the crowd with your brand, consumers can quickly leave you for another. Do your best to start shining by offering something your competitors don’t have: a personality, authenticity, a unique brand story, loyal brand advocates, responsive customer support, etc. Identify your unique selling point, communicate it to the audience so that they would listen to you – and the result won’t take long in coming.
Lesley Vos is an outsourced blogger behind Bid4Papers and a regular contributor to publications on business, digital marketing, and self-growth. In love with literature and jazz, she keeps on crafting her writing skills every day.