Today, we’re bombarded with marketing messages from every side – the New York Times estimates over 5,000 messages every day. Marketers used to try to reach consumers at home watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines, but now advertisers reach consumers in real time, trying to catch their attention at every turn. It’s absolute sensory overload as companies press harder to make their brands stand out.
My sister, Lorrie, and I are identical twins. Because we are identical twins, we know a lot about the confusion and frustration that comes from a lack of clarity when things look the same. It has taught us a simple truth about differences.
We live in a world that appreciates and expects individual differences in appearance and behavior. So when we encounter two identical individuals, this experience challenges our beliefs about the way that the world works. Of course, identical twins are never exactly alike, and some differ in profound ways. Yet we can’t stop ourselves from comparing them and trying to find the differences that help us to tell them apart. By taking a closer look at twins, we can learn a great deal about the concept of differentiation. When I look at my twin, I can experience how others view me – and actually see myself from outside of myself.
I did not think about it much until I was almost 13. Around that time, I remember clearly that looking and being different from my twin sister was just about the most important thing in my world. I wanted to be seen as a separate and distinct person. I dressed as differently as I could. I cut my hair differently, I hung out with other people who were trying to be different, too – artists, musicians, and other experimental types who for one reason or another were trying to find their own identities. What I found was that most of what I did to be different was external. I was trading being part of one group (the twins) with being part of another, larger group (creative types).
Most of us want to be recognized for our differences – the unique qualities that make us special and help us stand out from everyone else. It took me many years of trying to be something or someone else before I learned the important truth that the shortest course to being different is to be more of who I am.
While the concept of identical twins is intriguing, the concept of businesses looking like carbon copies of each other can be disastrous. Unfortunately, to most consumers, competing products often look almost identical.
Lorrie and I have been forced to learn first hand to identify and appreciate what makes us different. We’ve learned how to stand out.
From first-hand experience at refining our individuality throughout our lives, we’ve also perfected the ability to perceive distinct differences in other people, other companies and other brands. In fact, we’ve found that the quickest way for a company to stand out is quite simply to be more of who they already are, and to leverage their distinct advantages to make a difference in the minds of their customers and prospects. Finally, your brand must be a reflection of your distinct advantages.
A brand used to be considered a logo, a slogan, a particular design or color combination, an advertisement or even a brochure. But today, these visual elements are only an outward expression and a small part of what makes up what we recognize as a company’s expression of its brand.
In today’s business environment, a brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for someone’s decision to choose one product or service over another. It’s an intangible asset for any company, and possibly the most valuable asset a company owns. Every company has a brand; it’s like DNA and is comprised of many things that define who you are as a business. These things are mostly intangible—like your purpose for being in business, your reputation, values and beliefs and your unique advantage (the specific qualities and strengths that differentiate your product or service). Add to this mix the emotional impressions and experiences that customers have when interacting with your company and you have an idea of what defines your brand.
So how can you determine the DNA of your company? Throughout our 25+ years of experience, we have identified eight primary factors which contribute to standing out from the competition when it comes to marketing. We’ve distilled what we’ve learned into The 8 Fundamentals as defined below.
Ideally this information will help you to shine a light on shortcomings or challenges in your marketing strategy and offer suggestions and solutions for you to Stand Out from the competition, Take Off in a direction that’s true to who you are and where you want to be, and, finally, to Stay On Course to reach your goals.
Winnie Brignac Hart and Lorrie Brignac Lee of TwinEngine bring 25+ years of marketing experience to leveraging their twin talents to help companies translate traditional marketing channels into forward-thinking solutions. They have built a reputation as inspired, award-winning designers and savvy interpreters of business brand and personality. Their most recent book collaboration is Stand Out: Tools To Master The 8 Fundamentals Of Standing Out In Business (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
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