How to stand out in a saturated marketplace
Let’s face it, the internet is a crowded place. When you’re just setting up your new business, one of the first hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome is to simply get noticed. Entrepreneurship has risen by 30% in the last couple of years (Financial Times) and 98 new businesses formed every hour during Q1 of 2021 (Business Leader). So, how can you stand out in a saturated marketplace?
It’s more than just your 'USP'
Your business’s USP (or, ‘Unique Selling Point,’) is what sets you apart. The truth is, people don’t buy things because they’re unique, different, and never been seen before. My dinosaur-shaped cactus that sings mariachi while frying an egg is unique. Is it a best selling product? God, no.
People buy things for different reasons. They buy a product or service because it’s what they need, because they want to feel good, because they want to be part of something, because of the status, because they want to look better, smell sexier, be fitter, get richer… Ultimately because it will help them achieve a higher goal - that they themselves may not necessarily even be aware of.
Not because it’s 'unique'
So, with this in mind, it’s crucial to think about your business’s brand strategy:
C O R E V A L U E P R O P O S I T I O N
The foundation to this is developing your core value proposition. Drill down exactly who your target audience is, and exactly how you are helping them. What are their jobs to be done? What are their pain points you can help relieve? And how can you go further by adding value or making them look good?
(Again, you don’t need to be doing something different for different’s sake to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but you do need to get crystal clear on what you’re offering, to whom, why they need it, and why they can’t live without it).
B R A N D E S S E N C E
Once you’ve established your core value proposition, we can get into the essence of your brand. I’m not talking about what your logo looks like, which colours you’ve picked out for your brand palette, or whether your typeface is serif or sans serif. (But I will get to that later).
No, a brand is not just a logo.
Your brand is the position you take in the marketplace, what you stand for, and the space in which you occupy in your customers’ minds.
Let’s get stuck in.
1. M I S S I O N
Starting with your company’s mission. It’s easy for this to get very flowery and veer away from the practical truth. Keep it real. What is your company striving to accomplish, on a daily basis? If this is about making people feel their best selves through all-natural, ethically-sourced nutrition, cool. If it’s about educating underserved minorities about their personal finances through engaging content and simple tech, that’s also cool. Whatever good it is that your company is adding to the world, say it like it is.
2. V I S I O N
Swap the ‘m’ for a ‘v’ and drop an ‘s’ for no reason and from ‘mission’ we go on to ‘vision’ - what’s the vision for the world in 10 years’ time with your company in it? What does the world look like, and how have you shaped it? This is expected to be more inspirational than the practical mission described above - motivating your team members, investors, customers, and partners to come on the journey with you.
3. V A L U E S
We stick with the Vs and move onto values: what is really important to your business? Your company values anchor the whole organisation in what really matters. (And no, these are NOT meaningless buzzwords that get printed as wall art to hang around the office. These symbolise your ethics, your moral code, and underpin how the company behaves.) Core company values are concepts that feel incredibly important and authentic to the business. At Bloom, for example, our four core company values are: expertise, execution, refreshing, and courtesy. And we live them authentically every day. With each other, our partners, our suppliers, and our clients, interwoven like a golden thread throughout all that we do.
4. P U R P O S E
Lastly, what’s your company’s purpose? Why does your business exist? Not to put too fine a point on it, but why does the world need you? Your company exists because… [fill in the blanks!] A few great examples of well-known brand purpose statements here:
● Tesla: "We exist to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."
● TED: "We exist to spread the ideas worth sharing."
● LinkedIn: "We exist to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful."
E S T A B L I S H , C O D I F Y , E X E C U T E
Your brand strategy forms the much-needed, solid foundation before leapfrogging to the stage where everyone else begins their journey - effectively translating the core brand essence into your visual identity, key messaging and tone of voice.
Once the brand codes are established (creative devices like logo, strap line, illustrations, etc), it’s the consistent execution across the mixed marketing activities that set you up for success.
Same message, different channels - beat the drum over and over and over about who you are, your mission, why you exist, your value-add… and the next wave of entrepreneurs will be looking to you as a measure of success.