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Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow: Differentiate or Die

Harsh title? Maybe a little. I’m paraphrasing a quote I read recently from Linda Ellerbee. I think in this age of information overwhelm, it’s time for some tough love.

When it comes to branding—to sticking yourself or your company out there, loud and proud—a lot of businesses are little sheepish. In fact, a lot sheepish: they are born followers. They follow the flock. Float with the flotsam. They think it’s safe to be a follower. If you blend in with the crowd, no one notices if you make a misstep or put out something less than wonderful. If you are a follower no one has high expectations. In fact, customers may have no expectations at all because they don’t see that you exist. And if you are out of sight, you are out of mind.

For a business, “invisible” is a baaaaahhhhd thing. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). By stepping out of the crowd and owning what makes you special or different, by staking a position and remaining congruent to that position with your brand message and brand personality, you will differentiate yourself successfully from those other followers.

And, following isn’t as safe as it’s cracked up to be: You may be floating along the path to obsolescence or oblivion. There are a lot of mainframe computer makers who kept their heads down, following the leaders, assuming their success was assured, while portable and personal computing geniuses turned against the current to spawn successful new industries.

If you do the same thing in the same way as everyone else, there is no reason for a buyer to choose you, other than price. No one wins the price war in end. Your business just dies.

So don’t be afraid to break from the stream of sameness. Define your differences. Own your brand and promote it proudly. Sure, standing for something is risky. But, you can either stand for something you are passionate about or just float downstream to obscurity while you brand just…do I smell rotting fish?

First Impression ChecklistFor a quick revelation of what may be missing from your brand experience, before you even engage your prospective client, download my free First Impression Checklist. It’ll give you some tips you can employ right away and provides a glimpse of the value a thorough brand evaluation can provide.




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