Standing out in a crowded marketplace can often seem like a mystery—a code yet to be cracked. But it’s actually much simpler than it seems. The key is to take the safe path, which ironically is the path of being different, different in our own unique way.

Have you ever noticed an individual who has a particular way of dressing that is so distinctive that you can’t help but take notice? Not someone who wears the latest fashions or the most expensive clothes. They could be wearing thrift store or vintage clothing. Or maybe they are wearing some truly high-class clothing, but regardless of the nature of the clothes and their particular hairstyle, is that their style fits their personality to a T.

It works the same way with branding a company. If we start a company and then we look at how similar businesses are marketing themselves and emulate their style and approach, it’s as if we just went to the most fashionable clothing store and asked the staff to fit us with the trendiest clothing and accessories. Instead of standing out, we just fit in.

It might sound like a safe bet to follow the crowd, but it’s actually the riskiest path. The safest path to marketing and growing a business is to actually be really different. Not different merely for the sake of being different, but rather different in such a way that perfectly fits your brand personality.

Step One — Define Your Personality

The first step to standing out is to do the work of defining your unique personality and tone as a company. This can look like holding internal meetings and brainstorming the adjectives that best describe your business. It can look like surveying your employees, and it can look like some good old fashion research. Like surveying your ten best customers and asking them to describe your business in two sentences or less using as many adjectives as they can.

The answers your customers give you might surprise you, as we see ourselves differently than others (personally, and as a company).

Step Two — Having the Courage to Embody Your Differentness

The second step is simple, but not easy. It’s having the courage to embody the differentness that you discovered in the first step. It means being bold, stepping forward and saying, “This is who we are.” It may feel scary because you’re taking an unconventional approach, but it’s actually the safest path to success.

Be with the uncomfortability and challenge yourself to put your story forward as authentically as you can.

Step Three — Being Consistent

Keep refining while staying the course. The most respected minds in positioning theory tell us that once we find our unique way of defining ourselves, that we have to stick with that positioning. And truly, if you find a positioning that authentically nails your brand personality, why would you want to change it?

You can refine and tweak the way you express your positioning, and you can try all sorts of marketing tactics, but stick to the core message that is your brand story, expressing your unique personality and tone.

The more you stick with your uniqueness the more your ideal audience will notice you, get to know you, and eventually decide to do business with you.

The Real You

There was a time when a number of companies required their executives to wear navy blue suites because of some research that suggested that people have more trust for those who wear navy blue. The problem with this approach is that it leaves out the most important aspect of human nature that causes us to trust someone, and that is realness. The more real a person is, the more we feel their authenticity, the more we trust them.

And if everyone wears the same color, the psychological effect of the color becomes meaningless.

This means that the quickest path to standing out is expressing your brand in the most real and authentic way that you can.

We look forward to seeing your differentness in the marketplace.

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