Differentiation:  jumping off comfort island?

Differentiation is a cornerstone of marketing strategy and brand positioning.  As both a CMO or Brand Consultant, a big part of what I do is to find the points of difference behind a company’s value proposition.

You can find these in all manner of places.  As a business your differentiation could be about what you do, why you do it, or how you go about it.  When IKEA launched, what they did (provide good-value stylish furniture) wasn’t that unique but how they did it – making the customer part of the supply chain and immersing you in the lifestyle you could buy – was.  What Apple did (make computers, phones, MP3 players) wasn’t new, but as Simon Sinek points out, why they did it – to challenge the status quo and offer simpler alternatives for others who like to do the same – was.

Whatever your point of differentiation – it requires the bravery to be seen for who you really are.  And who you are not.  The benefit is that people who will connect with what you offer can find you more easily, whilst those who don’t appreciate your differences will walk on by.

Of course, that ‘rejection’ is not always comfortable.  The last year or so has been a very different professional and personal journey for me.  Setting up as an independent consultant has meant I haven’t been able to hide safely behind someone else’s brand.  I’ve had to share my own opinions and recently I’ve ventured from behind my blog to attend a few women in business networking events.  Before the first one I was killing time in a nearby café and chatting to a friend on WhatsApp.  Knowing me very well, she said…”Let’s face it Jill, you’ll be a few miles off comfort island right now!”.

I was.  And it got me thinking that all I needed to do was exactly what I tell my clients to do.  Be brave enough to stand out for who you are and why you’re different.  To attract and connect with like-minded people who seek your difference.

My leap off comfort island that night was enormous fun and I’ve met some remarkable women in business over the last couple of months.  Some I’ve connected with, some I haven’t.  But I know I connected with the right ones for me.

A little time and focus on differentiation will do the same for your brand.