Are you intimidated by the competition in your industry? Do you feel like the marketplace is already crowded with folks offering the exact same services or products as you are? If you are, you’re not alone. All entrepreneurs face competition. Even if you’re offering a new and innovative service or product, you’re still competing for the attention of your audience with other businesses, entertainment, or just about anything your audience has going on in their life.
There’s no reason to be intimidated by the competition. It has existed forever. If the complete lack of competition was the defining factor for starting a new business, there would never be new restaurants, cafes, shops, or really any new businesses popping up. And yet there are. And some are thriving.
Competition or not, you need to stand out to succeed. Easier said than done,eh? Sometimes we feel like there’s absolutely nothing unique about you or your business to stand out. Well, everyone’s got something. And branding can help you find that something. Read on to find out how.
How unique are you?
One important goal of the branding process is to find a unique point of view that your business — or you as the founder — has. The unique point of view is valuable when you’re trying to differentiate yourself from the competition. Sometimes this uniqueness comes from the service or product that you’re selling. Maybe it is a completely new solution that didn’t exist before you created it. In that case, you probably already are aware of your unique approach to that particular problem. But most often, the service or product we’re selling is not completely new and there are plenty of competition in the marketplace.
Know your competition
If you’re struggling to understand how your business is unique, and what your unique point of view is, it helps to look at your competition. If you don’t know who and how your competitors are, how would you know if you’re different from them? I personally find this part very reassuring. Every time I analyze my competitors, I find something that I do differently. Or I realize the outcome would look very different, had I done it. Analyzing your competition can be very eye opening and I highly recommend you start there.
There’s always a unique point of view to be found, because there’s something unique about everyone. Maybe you have a new approach — even if your service isn’t new. You might have a slightly different way of doing parts of the process or the product itself. Or maybe you just think differently about your industry.
Sometimes your uniqueness comes from your background. Maybe you have a unique mix of professional experience that most people in your marketplace don’t have. In my case, part of my unique point of view comes from having professional expertise in both branding and experience design. Typically designers and strategists focus and specialize in one of those areas. But I’ve worked extensively in both, and can bring my knowledge of both areas to client projects. Do you have a unique combination of professional expertise or skills that you apply to your offering?
Your core values can also be part of your unique point of view. Especially, if they’re idealistic, and you’re passionate about them. For example, Autodesk designs and develops 3D software for architects, engineers, and designers. Some of their core values are sustainability, as well as diversity and inclusion. Their corporate vision is “to help imagine, design, and create a better world.” They’ve adopted their idealistic values as part of their vision. And that brand messaging is reflected through their communications to set them apart from other 3d software manufacturers. Their messaging resonates strongly with anyone who has the same core values and feels passionate about them.
Your life experiences
Your uniqueness can also stem from life experiences. Did you overcome challenges? Can you inspire others do same through your messaging? Do you have an unusual outlook that helps you get through anything life throws you way? Your unique point of view does not have to be a huge differentiator that sticks out super obviously. It can be combination of multiple small things that each set you apart from others slightly.
When you’re developing your unique point of view, it is critical to be authentic. First of all, it is so much easier — and takes less energy — if you don’t have to pretend. But also, people have an uncanny way of spotting out impostors. So, take your time with this step, look inside, and develop something that truly comes from within.
Sometimes being authentic can make you feel vulnerable. Especially if you are very shy or introverted — or if you have a bad case of impostor syndrome. You might quickly think that “there is nothing interesting about me.” So, you rather create an image that is not genuine. However, you should know that vulnerability, especially when it comes to personal branding, is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be very disarming. Be authentic, be genuine — even if it feels uncomfortable.
How to use your unique point of view in branding?
Your unique point of view helps your business through messaging. You can leverage your unique point of view as you would one of your key differentiators: separating you from competition. The idea is that you will catch your ideal customer’s attention by communicating “I have this unique approach and a point of view that I’ve gained through x-y-z. It has allowed me to develop this particular process/product. No one else has this quite same point of view, so no one else can offer you exactly the same thing.” Of course, your messaging can (and maybe should) be more subtle than that — and certainly not with that exact wording.
Your unique point of view also attracts your ideal customer through shared values and relatability. In Autodesk’s case, anyone who finds sustainability, diversity, and inclusion important, feels like they’re part of the same tribe and find Autodesk’s messaging attractive. Even if your unique point of view does not include grand idealistic values, it will help likeminded people relate to your brand.
Get to work and start thinking how your unique point of view can set you apart from competition. And as always, let me know if I’ve missed something. Or if you have any questions about this topic.
P.S. If you haven’t already done so, come check out my free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs where I teach soulpreneurs like you to build their own branding and create their own designs.