We're Different. It's easy to say, but hard to do.
For business owners, it’s obvious why they’re different. But for people making buying decisions, it’s difficult to tell at first glance.
When brand messaging isn’t clear, we often settle for the lowest common denominator. For products, that denominator is price. If the product is of little value to us, we buy the cheapest option. If we want the best, we look for the most expensive.
In today’s market, we don’t have time to make informed decisions about every purchase we make. There are too many choices and too much information available, leading us to make quick decisions so we can move on to the next thing. Social scientist Herbert Simon said it best, “[…] a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
So how do businesses capture the attention of customers? By differentiating.
Differentiation works because of how our cognitive systems work. Our brains act as filters to actively sort through vast amounts of information that surround us every day. Bringing attention to information that might be relevant to us and discarding anything irrelevant. Think the hum from the air conditioner or appliances you hardly notice anymore.
This filtering means our brains are constantly working to recognize differences. For brands seeking a competitive advantage, differentiation is key. Being better than competitors is no longer enough to stand out in a crowded market.
Dyson is a perfect example of this. A Dyson and Bissell vacuum both do the same job, but because Dyson does it while being different, the company was able to generate 7.3 billion dollars of revenue in 2019, while Bissell’s only saw 14% of that.
This makes the message clear, if you want to stand out, you need to be different. Following the path of others will only lead you to mediocrity. For brands looking to lead, look for where the competition isn’t.