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The Key to Differentiating Your Brand from Your Competition

differentiate your brand from competitionDifferentiating your brand is imperative to thrive as a business in the long term. This tasks can seem impossible for a small business, especially if you’re in competition with a larger global brand or your product or service is available online. Globalization and the Internet have certainly made it harder to stand out from the competition, but there are still many ways to differentiate your brand.  

1. Be Authentic

Being an “authentic brand” is particularly important to millennials who are more likely to be turned off by large corporate brands and traditional push advertising. Being authentic can mean different things to different people, but most would agree a brand feels authentic when it has a history and journey people can relate to. Honesty is important as well. If you operate your company in a way that is inconsistent with the values you claim are important, this comes off as very inauthentic.

2.  Provide Excellent Customer Service

If you provide your customers with an amazing customer experience, this can really help your brand to stand out. With the rise of the Internet and social media, customers are much more powerful than in the past. If a customer feels they have been treated unfairly, they can share this opinion with thousands of people with the click of a button. Conversely, a great customer experience can become free advertising if shared broadly. Make it easy for your customers to share positive word-of-mouth by asking them to leave reviews and share their experience with friends.

3.  Alternative Pricing Options

You can make your brand stand out by pricing your goods or services in stark contrast with your completion. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should strive to be the cheapest, although that can be very successful if you can do so while maintaining profitability. Many brands like BMW or Rolex stand out from other brands because the have premium pricing.  Or, you can offer a completely unique pricing structure like a payment plan for example.

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4.  Create Relationships and Partnerships

If you can find a product or service that compliments yours, why not forge a partnership? For example, if you sell hot dogs your customers are certainly interested in hot dog buns. You could cross promote and offer discounts. Or, if you’re a hair stylist why not partner with a make-up artist. By combining products or services, your customers are interested in it will help to differentiate your brand and make their lives easier.

5. Offer Convenience

People value convenience and if you can offer your product or service in a way that can save your customers time compared to the other available alternatives you can really differentiate your brand. Zappos achieves this by offering their customers free shipping and return shipping. Many grocery chains now offer delivery. People seek out brands that can make their lives easier.

6.  Be Innovative

You can differentiate your brand by being innovative, cutting edge. This can be more difficult as it requires a product or service that’s completely new. Or, delivering a traditional product or service in a completely new way. This helps your brand to stand out because innovation is exciting.

Unless you’re lucky enough to be the only company offering your particular good or service, finding a way to stand out from the competition is important. Once you figure out your unique way of satisfying customers make sure they know about it too. If your potential customers aren’t aware of what makes you different, then it won’t help much. Be unique and don’t be shy about it!

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The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 30 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

Topics: Small Business, Growing a Business

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