In a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult to make your products and services stand out clearly from the competition. A key way to do this is to focus on building brand awareness and turning your existing customers and targets into advocates for your brand.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Creating that competitive advantage won’t always be easy, but it is key to carving out a niche and scaling up to meet your customers’ needs.
Clearly define your brand values
Once your brand values have been established, use them to guide every business decision, from marketing to operations; e.g. if sustainability is a core value, this must be reflected in the choices you make on suppliers, packaging, distribution and the causes you associate with.
When your company values jump out from your marketing and customer interactions, it makes it easier to resonate with the right customers – and that’s a key part of building good relationships.
Create a memorable personality for your brand
Think about the personality you associate with your favourite brands. Apple is cutting edge, aspirational and techy, while Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is kooky, laid-back and reflects the hippy roots of its founders. How do you want your customers to feel about your brand?
Should the personality of your brand sound professional, expert and high class? Or would your audience engage better with a personality that’s warm, approachable and more friendly? Whatever you decide, your tone of voice and the personality of your brand has to be consistent across all channels. Make sure your website, marketing collateral and social media posts all have a uniform feel and represent the brand in a way which can be quickly identified.
Have a recognisable brand identity
Part of creating brand recognition is having a clear visual appearance for the brand. The logo you use, the style of your web content and the way your packaging is designed all help to make your brand more recognisable to a broader audience.
Be creative with your design and decide on a ‘visual identity’ with colours, fonts and imagery that reflect your chosen personality as a brand. If you can commission the images (design or photography) yourself, the result will feel more authentic but stock image libraries offer lots of choice too. Avoid clichéd images that don’t reflect your brand and, wherever possible, aim to create a unique identity that will quickly stand out in your marketplace.
Differentiate your brand from the competition
Does your product stand out from other similar products offered by your competitors? The more unique you can make your offering, the better. You can differentiate by features, price, customer service etc. to make sure you’re the stand-out option for customers in this market.
There’s also the option of creating your own niche, where competitors are few and far between. To protect this dominance, it’s important to maintain your high-quality service, to work closely with your customers and to remain at the cutting edge of the specialism.
Know your price and how it fits customers' needs
Price can be a real differentiator, so you need to be aware how your prices compare to those of your competitors. Is your product cheaper than others? Or are you pitching your price at the top end of the market?
It’s important to be clear about whether you’re offering a premium, standard or economy product, and how this fits with your customers’ expectations of the brand. Offering good value for money will be an important draw, so keep an eye on the competitiveness of your prices.
Build a valued community of brand advocates
Do you have a strong network amongst your customer base, or is a competitor gradually winning market share and undermining your supremacy as the market leader? This needs to be regularly reviewed and assessed.
A focus on customer relationships is vital. Offer discounts and unique offers to your long-standing customers to keep them on side. Ask for comments and feedback, so you know what customers want from the brand. And turn your existing customers into advocates for the brand – so they get out in the real world and refer you to the rest of their network.