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Is Your Brand Set Apart or Lost In the Crowd?

Brands fall into one of two buckets: the bigger bucket being the soupy, mass of sameness where every brand is trying to be champion of the status quo.  The other bucket, a much smaller one, contains the brands of excellence. “The few, the proud.” These are the brands that are set apart from the crowd.

If we were to step back and do a self-evaluation of our brands, it suffices to say that many of us would fall into the soupy, mass of sameness. We would then quickly convince ourselves that “we’re still a solid organization… we have our challenges just like everyone else.” Catch yourself… you’re only perpetuating your position in the bucket of ordinary.

Seth Godin sums up the price of unremarkable brands, “If I encounter a brand and I don’t know what it means or does, it has zero power. If I have an expectation of what an organization will do for me, but I don’t care about that, no power.”

What are the costs of your brand residing in the soupy, mass of sameness?

+ Your team and as a result, your brand, has to work substantially harder to achieve modest visibility and awareness in the marketplace. Remember, your brand is competing against the noise and crowdedness of mediocrity.

+ Your brand has to face the reality that brand savvy people tune out and quickly dismiss the status quo brands. People are conditioned to seek excellence… audience expectations have never been higher and never been so unrelenting.

Need proof? See how customers and the online community have rebuked the Gap’s new logo. http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662470/gap-pulls-a-tropicana-nixes-new-logo )

+ Being one among the masses means the marketplace has placed labels on your brand that are often untrue and simply unfair. The result is your brand having to deal with the market place associating you with lesser, relevant brands.

+ Being one among the masses means you have to work harder to compete with the mass of status quo. While you’re fighting harder than you should, the brands of excellence are applying the same energy and resources to reinforce and multiply excellence. Advancement, growth, prosperity, and impact always comes easier for the brands that are already set apart.

+ Being one among the masses means you are likely struggling with an identity crisis, specifically identity clarity. Internal and external perceptions of the “your brand story” are likely less defined than you care to acknowledge.  Or you may have a few people that have a clear understanding, but there are plenty more left wondering and waiting for that moment of clarification about your relevance and impact.

Around the DC confines, we reference a quote that dates back a few years… Sergio Zyman, former Coca-Cola marketing czar: says “there is no value in sameness.” Ouch. It’s painful, but so true.

Zyman’s challenge should be a wake up call and challenge to us all. Brand mediocrity is not an option. Pursuit of excellence and differentiation should be an unwavering goal for your brand.