05 Sep Why differentiate your small business brand?
If you want long-term success you need to differentiate your small business brand. Following trends and copying successful competitors seems to be a popular business and brand strategy, but it is a flawed one. There is much more to be gained by being ‘yourself’ and devising a business and brand that is unique. Here I outline the key reasons to differentiate your small business brand.
Be noticed and remembered
If you follow trends and mimic competitors you just blend in and become unnoticed and unrecognised. Being too similar to another business dilutes the power of your own brand, and theirs. Which is not helpful to either of you. It creates confusion for potential customers. They can have trouble recalling which business had the product/service they wanted and may give up in frustration when researching for a purchase.
Branding is all about differentiation, not conformity. If you stand out from the crowd you can cut through the clutter to be noticed and remembered. This includes all aspects of your brand, including business name, visual identity, tagline and messages.
A good example is the business naming trend in boutique children’s wear and gift shops to use the ‘Name & Name’ format. ‘Archie & Evie’, ‘Harley & Soo’, ‘Daisy & Rowe’. While cute, it can be perplexing to recall what names go together, as they blur into each other. Similarly there is often a likeness in the visual identity – pastel colours, script typefaces and fancy ampersands. (And sometimes these combinations of names are assigned to porn stars – so not great for your google search!)
It is crucial your visual identity – logo, colours, typography, style of photographs and graphic elements – is exclusive and distinct. The visual elements of your brand are the most memorable.
Showcase your unique selling proposition
Capitalising on another business’s branding is lazy and uncreative. And any gains made by copying are short-term. It is better to concentrate on developing your own business and focusing on your unique strengths and capabilities, and how you can benefit customers.
You need to know what your competitors are doing, but not to copy them. Learn from what others are doing successfully. Use your research to find opportunities to do things differently and determine what is distinctive about your business. Then put in the work and work out your own formula for your business positioning, personality, identity and voice.
Innovate by using ideas from another industry to give your business an edge.
Build trust and credibility
Presenting your business and yourself authentically adds to the uniqueness of your brand and builds trust and credibility. Being genuine shows confidence, and gives your customers confidence. Your business purpose, values and brand story are different to every other business, so use this to your advantage.
Connect with the right target customers
By differentiating your business you can connect with your own niche target market, build customer loyalty and create advocates for your business. Copying competitors with different target customers can mean your brand misses the mark.
This is particularly true with brand voice. Your messages become diluted if they are similar to competitors, or written in a similar style or with the same vocabulary. Having a unique personality, tone of voice and tagline is a much better way to break through and connect with customers and stand out from the crowd.
Copying risks brand damage
Branding is about shaping and influencing perceptions and managing your business reputation. If your brand is too close to a similar business and something negative happens to that business you risk damage to your own brand. It can be difficult to fix reputational damage, so it’s better to avoid the possibility!
So, be brave and differentiate your small business brand!
Strong and differentiated branding gives you an advantage in increasingly competitive and cluttered markets. It helps you to stand out and attract your ideal customers, and builds trust and credibility with your target market. An individualised brand engenders customer loyalty ensuring repeat business and referrals.
Although it can feel more safe and comfortable to copy, choose to be bold and brave instead and assert your own identity and independence in the market.
You may have heard the saying by Oscar Wilde that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’. The full version of this quote is: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness’. So I implore you to aim for greatness in your small business brand, not mediocrity.
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