Positioning “different” and “distinct”

Know thyself

Before a brand can become different, distinct, or simply have half a chance of succeeding—it requires a well-crafted brand foundation. You need to discover that sweet spot where the company, its consumers and employees, current and prospective, coalesce on an idea. A brand idea that stands for something. Your “something” doesn’t need to be lofty or majestic—but it must resonate with your audience and represent your authentic position.

Transmissionary position

What message are you transmitting to your market? Is your position based solely on price and/or service? As we’ve discussed before, price is a battle you may not actually want to win, and service is a murky, hard-to-validate claim to support. Shrink the circle of possibilities. Start by looking at what you aren’t, what you don’t do or make. This brings some clarity in order to address the questions of: What is this company? What do we stand for? How do we make our position distinct and different? It becomes easier to say specifically what you do and who you serve without watering down your brand story. Although, this does require a certain level of fortitude to realize that you may be focusing on a lesser percent of the market. The goal is to have a genuine “target” market.

Standing for something is preferred to standing for nothing. Being everything for someone is better than being nothing for everyone. By diluting and aimlessly pitching to one and all, you are less desirable to your audience that matters.

The other benefit of a hyper focused audience is to effectively reduce competition with higher value by way of exclusivity and accountability. If you can position yourself well, you’re on a great path toward drawing clear distinctions between you and your competition.


Once you have a position in place, you need a fresh, unique story to tell. A good brand story should articulate the ideals, emotions and values you’d stay up late and get up early for. There’s strategy and creativity in how you tell your story. What’s the tone? How do we want to come across when people read your content or listen to what you say? It’s not all taglines, or high-level messaging—it’s the character that resonates in a consistent and authentic manner.

The way we approach branding, is to create a difference between story and messaging. Story is what you as an organization stand for, what you believe in, what flag you plant. Messaging is the language and the words on a tactical level that become tag lines, headlines, elevator speeches… the hard work of communicating the story.

Sights and insights

The visual aspect of your brand is critical to taking a position and compelling an action. It’s having a unique logo, color palette, the imagery you use, the graphics, photography and visuals that support the telling of the story.

We were working with a bank recently and in a quick competitive analysis of their top six or eight competitors, we determined that eight of eight used blue as their primary brand color. Sure, we like blue, blue stands for security and trust. But if your goal was to stand out and be visually distinctive… perhaps rethink looking like everyone else in the room.

With colors, in particular, we find that many people act strictly on preference. It’s a knee-jerk, personal reaction. But the fact is, it’s not about your personal preference, it’s about a strong rational of why branding choices are made. The brand considerations are bigger than one guy who has a soft spot for green.

Find yourself, be yourself

We had an opportunity to rebrand a local golf course. They identified their primary competitor, which was in their neighborhood. Their personal preference was to have their new logo and new updated brand mimic their competitor. Our response was, if you take an “us too” attitude, while at your core, you’re not like them, then you’re being dishonest with yourself and your audience. Thankfully, they took our strategic advice and pursued their authentic direction. One year into the new brand they had booked a record number of rounds and sold a record amount of merchandise.

When your organization is having an issue, take the time to step back and analyze that issue. Look closely to determine if this a symptom, or the root problem. Make certain that what’s being done is solving for the root problem. It’s hard to self-diagnose… we’re here, and we’re happy to help.


Find your pedestal,

—Team Sussner


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