Developing a standout brand is essential to thriving in a crowded marketplace. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping on top of industry trends and understanding what works well. However, when everyone is following those same trends, brands often end up looking and feeling just like all the others out there.
Whether it’s trying out a whole new concept or putting a fresh face on a traditional strategy, finding new ways to show what sets your business apart is a great way to grow your customer base. If you’re looking for new ideas to differentiate your company from the competition, try these 13 unique and unusual branding tips from the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.
1. Be loyal to your employees.
In an industry that has an extremely high turnover rate, our turnover rate at Kings Service Solutions is less than 15%. Our branding tip is our people; they are loyal because we are. We have never deviated from our core values: integrity, passion, innovation and excellence. Our product is “trust”— it’s embedded in our DNA and is a differentiator that can’t be duplicated. – Yanet Herrero, Kings Service Solutions, LLC
2. Be willing to be different.
I think authenticity and being willing to be different are critical for brand development. So many people try to be like everyone else, and as a result, they just blend into the noise. When I launched Keyser, we intentionally decided to be fearless in our messaging and crystal clear about who we were. This created a lot of brand equity because business people appreciated the boldness and clarity. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser
3. Share internal stories.
As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Share your brand by sharing what’s on the inside — your people, their stories, and what they genuinely care about and do each day to support your products and services. Your brand and your culture both have to stand for what you actually believe in, and the best way to show what makes you different is by showing who makes you different: your people. – Keri Higgins-Bigelow, livingHR, Inc.
4. Align your product or service to your message.
Authenticity will always stand out over an artificially created image. Living the brand is critical to long-term success. Cute graphics and sayings get old fast if the product and service are not aligned with the message. Be real. Be authentic. Be genuine. Be curious. The marketplace can tell. – Jon Schram, The Purple Guys
5. Focus on a niche audience.
There are riches in the niches! Focus on the smallest addressable market you can and speak directly to them and only them. To truly stand out, you should be extremely clear about your ideal client and what drives their purchasing decision. Focus on what is important to the customer, not what you like. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
6. Let your branding reflect your true self.
Don’t be afraid to let your branding reflect your true self — even if that means ignoring trends! Instead of designing a website with a super sleek feel, we selected a bold color palette of black and hot pink and a chunky brand font that stands out. We’re an all-women PR agency with big personalities, and that’s what makes us different from others in the industry. Why pretend to be anything else? – Lauren Reed, Reed Public Relations
7. Start a holiday.
Launching a holiday is a strategy that I utilized to differentiate my brand. The reason was to develop a social impact strategy that served the needs of others while simultaneously advancing my brand’s digital footprint. Now every March, National Invest In Veterans Week is celebrated by thousands of brands nationwide. – Jeff Shuford, National Invest In Veterans Week
8. Show off your personality.
I always say be yourself on social media. Brand your events with your corporate personality. Find a way to bring some levity, whether that be through a mascot, a jingle or even a spokesperson. Stay consistent and try to do something that everyone can relate to so they can easily remember your brand. – Cindy Lo, RED VELVET
9. Don’t ‘follow the leader.’
If you see your competitors doing something, don’t do it. Clearly, that’s easier said than done, but staying authentic and resisting the urge to repeat what you see everywhere will make you stand out. It takes a lot more creativity and courage to figure out your own ways, but if you hit that magic formula, you’ll become unstoppable. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
10. Focus on product and price.
Product and price are always king. If your brand or product can be more effective than others in your space while also offering a competitive price — or if you offer more for the same amount — you will always succeed and your customers will become your brand ambassadors. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
11. Create your brand around your core values.
Your brand is more than a logo and letterhead — it’s also the people you hire and the services you provide. We’ve created a brand that revolves around our core values. Each member of our team emulates those values and follows our processes, which leads to exceptional service. We are known in our market for our work ethic, integrity and positive energy. – E. Tanner Milne, Menlo Group Commercial Real Estate
12. Emphasize the problem you solve for your customers.
Let branding be the side effect. Focus on the problem you are solving for your target demographic. The unique solutions you provide will naturally stand out from the crowd and will likely be different from any momentary trend. Be you. Be true. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
13. Aim to be trusted and helpful.
I stay out of branding; it can lead to being stuck in a box. I prefer to focus on being trusted and helpful. Customer service and dedication are always drivers of purpose and together are a valuable way to be seen. No matter what you do, focus on people — everything else will take care of itself. – Tom Jaleski, Code Unlimited LLC