A previous version of this article was originally published on Fast Company.
“Don’t waste time living someone else’s life. Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.” Steve Jobs
Having a me-too brand is a death sentence.
This post is short and sweet (like some of my best friends).
Fact: the road to glory and riches in branding is paved with differentiation.
Eliminating Me-Too Brand Traits
So, here is a rapid-fire checklist to see whether you’re driving your brand successfully into the horizon or off the cliff into branding hell:
1. Are you using the same “promises” as your competition?
2. Are you using the same design elements as your competition?
3. Is your basic approach to look, feel and overall design similar to your competition?
4. Do you use the same or similar channels of media to get the word out?
5. Do your customers or clients have a tough time telling you apart from competitors?
6. Do your elements you use to tell your brand’s story resemble your competitors (in subject matter or style of execution)?
7. Are you using the same adjectives to show “how different you are” from your competitors? (Actual examples: state-of-the-art, most advanced, new and improved, better, version 2.0, groundbreaking, etc.)
The list above can be extended, but it’s good enough for starters. If you have more than 4 of the above, your brand is working overtime with little or no gas. It will cost a bundle to maintain and not survive in the long run. And if it does, it will be on the battlefield of price.
Are Cliches Killing Your Brand’s Odds?
The me-too approach to branding is not the way to go.
Not in this economy or any economy.
To help inspire you what can be done with existing brands or startups, here are some recent examples of brands created for my clients, from the look and design to (in some cases) the name and the slogans:
For a new channel for a Dunn Brothers Coffee Product Line:
For a new startup providing debt consolidation for those dealing with the burden of student loan debt (name and brand identity development):
A new brand identity (naming, brand design and slogan) for a company providing consulting and energy advice for companies in deregulated states:
Prototype of their conference room:
Rebrand of a delicious gluten-free line of cookies involving a new brand identity, slogan development, messaging and package design:
Brand identity naming, slogan and brand identity for a new company developed by a seasoned investment team in the Northwest:
In the face of the existing giants, this “startup” decided to take on the online personal investment Goliaths using brains over brawn, nimbleness over bureaucracy and heart over greed.
The management team that formed this “startup” combines 100 years of portfolio management and technology industry experience. Together they have been managing portfolios for individuals, families, as well as some of the largest US institutions for the last 14 years.
Thus, the Exceptional Portfolio brand was born, providing today’s solution to serve the rest of us with our investment needs providing a unique balance between human intelligence, care and experience over a push-button solution that thinks an algorithm can understand each individual’s unique needs.
This video tells that tale.
If you want some further insights of my Fast Company blog posts, here is a post that lists out some powerful posts for any brand to instantly apply.