In today's marketing world you’re often told that you should be unique in your branding and in your corporate identity. You're told your company must be different in order to be successful. You must be unique and special and focused on a niche market previously untapped. And without fail this never ceases to brings to mind a rather paradoxical quote I've heard which says:
"You're unique- just like everyone else."
I laugh every time I hear the quote because indeed it holds a level of truth. In your branding you do want to be unique, and so does everyone else, including your competitors.
How to Be Unique
The reasons you want to be unique are numerous, you want your company to be easily recognized, remembered and repeated by your potential and past customers. Let's look at several ways you can be unique in your marketing and branding.
Your Logo Is Important
First you should be unique in your logo. Sure, now days you can go and pick out a logo for a couple bucks and have a brand. But this logo that you picked up at some discount website is not a unique brand symbol. It doesn’t represent what and who you are as a company. Your logo is much more than just a symbol or cute graphic. Your logo is a fantastic visual representation of not only what you are as a company but more importantly, who you are. You want your logo to be unique and memorable, and you want your logo to be timeless. I'm sure we can all think of other logos which have withstood the test of time and still today stand as representations of the company for which they were created. Of course over time things will change and refinements may be made, but some of the most classic logos have stayed relatively the same through generations.
That last one, Nike, is timeless. We can see even over decades these brands have altered very little about their logo (except for the early days for McDonalds). These logos are both classic and contemporary.
Designing your logo can be difficult because there are so many opportunities to go after the latest trend and what might be currently hot in design and marketing. Your logo should be something you thoughtfully consider and carefully craft.
Your Follow-Through Is Important
Secondly, you can be unique in the services and support you offer to your existing customers. Sure, it’s rather easy to be outgoing and friendly to the potential customers because you want their business. But once they are a customer, that’s when you have the opportunity to be unique. Treat them with respect. Be personable. You will stand apart from other companies because of your connection to your customers.
There are some other companies which have made their name and reputation on their customer support. One such company, Rackspace , offers the tagline, “Fanatical Support”. Then they hold themselves accountable by advertising they answer the phone with a real person in under 15 seconds. That is absolutely unique and memorable.
Your Marketing Is Important
You can be unique in your marketing. Marketing is your opportunity to express who you are as a company. It’s your chance to show the world the culture and the community associated with your company. Your marketing should reflect your values and your abilities and provide a unique insight into your company. Your marketing takes time, thought, and practice. Yes, your marketing takes practice. You need to learn what works and what doesn’t. You can speed up this process by learning from others. Determine what resonates with your target market, but more importantly be true to your company and your vision. If there’s a disconnect between the two then there’s an opportunity to evaluate if you have correctly identified your ideal customer. Your marketing is not something to take lightly and certainly not something you ignore.
Your Reputation Is Important
The last area I want to look at today is your reputation. Your reputation is what others think of you. There’s a number of great quotes on reputation but I remember one by Abraham Lincoln which I particularly like.
"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
- Abraham Lincoln
Reputation reflects on your character and your reputation is unique to your company just as your character is a unique trait of your business. Unfortunately there are some who would ruin their reputation in an attempt to grow their market share, discourage competition, or otherwise just attempt to ‘get-ahead’ in business. And as the quote says:
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
- Benjamin Franklin
You may be aware of the recent news story regarding Uber and their somewhat questionable recruiting practices and other aggressive efforts to kill their competition, Lyft. That story is a very real, very recent example of this exact principle. I have always admired Uber, they had the “cool factor” in my book and I would share their services with others whether they were interested or not. After this latest revelation I hesitate a bit before being willing to advertise for them. A single marketing campaign can ruin a reputation. And ruin a company. Be sure your reputation is important and a great way for you to be unique.
You can be unique in your business. The world is waiting to see what you offer ... and what makes you different. Don’t be afraid to show them.