Whether your business is set within a sparsely-populated niche or you’re battling to become the next Starbucks, you need to stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing worse than getting lost within a sea of sameness and mediocrity. Except, of course, your business failing because of it…
To really make an impact, your brand needs to stand out from the crowd in all respects – from the way you market your product or service and your logo design to the kind of customer service you offer and the way you end your emails.
Your uniqueness should run through everything you do and in every way you communicate with the world and your customers.
Hi, hello, hey, hiya, yoohoo – picking your brand’s voice
Picking a voice for your brand – and sticking to it – is not an easy task. It’s not just about the message you want to get out there or even the words you use to say it. It’s also about the order, the rhythm and the pace of the words. Are you a short, snappy business, or a thoughtful, in-depth conversationalist? Do you stick to the facts, or draw a story out from them?
Your tone of voice is an expression of the people behind the brand. That’s why it’s so important to get it right and stick to it.
Figuring out your tone of voice is your chance to experiment and discover what makes your company special. You need the right tone of voice that will appeal to your customers. If you’re selling children’s toys to parents, don’t refer to kids as little brats. Equally, if you’re tempting customers into a subscription service, don’t refer to the T&Cs as scary or complicated or boring. Entice them to join forces with you by calling the terms and conditions exciting, interesting or easy-to-understand.
Equally, it’s important to pick your voice and stick to it. If an email lands in your inbox from Fright Club, a horror movie subscription service, you’d expect it to resemble the other emails from that company. It would rankle you if the email addressed you as ‘Dear Mr Collins’ when they’d previously addressed emails, ‘Hey horror fan!’
A good way to stand out and stick to your tone of voice is to identify some words that you want to live by. First, pick some words that you never want to be used to describe you, such as: confusing, boring, mean or lazy, and then select some words you definitely do want to be described as: fun, efficient, friendly, speedy and exciting.
Next, work out a way of speaking and acting which takes you further away from the first set of adjectives and drops you right into the welcoming arms of the more positive second set.
Practically speaking, this could mean speeding up your sales process – make it your goal to answer email queries within 24 hours rather than 48, and take out the intermittent ‘Are you sure you want to proceed?’ page between ‘Enter your payment details’ and ‘Place order’ pages.
Find your USP
How easy it is to identify your unique selling proposition depends on your industry, your area of expertise and the daily ins and outs of your business. Can you make a claim that’s unique (and true!) to the market? Maybe you’re the only website offering genuine horse hair slippers? Perhaps your subscription box is made of recycled Vogue magazines? What about your origins – did your idea for an in-tent pop-up toilet come to you in the middle of the night while camping in a damp, dark and windy field in Wales?
Whatever it is that’s unique to your business, be sure to make the most of it. It’s in-built, easy marketing! You’d certainly let the world know if you received an OBE from the Queen – you should also let your potential customers know that you’ve been working in fairy costume design since you were old enough to get your hands on a pair of non-safety scissors, or that your frozen ready meal company really is the best because you had to suffer through 12 weeks of barely-edible meals while you were stuck in hospital after breaking your back.
If there’s something that makes you special (and it’s relevant to your industry) then make sure your customers know about it!
What ‘standing out’ doesn’t mean
It’s one thing to stand out from the crowd, but it’s another thing entirely to do so in a way that alienates, bores or confuses your customers. Quirky is good; scary is not. Funny-ha-ha is ok; funny-oh-my-god-what’s-he-doing-that’s-terrifying is most definitely not on!
It’s also worth thinking about how you want to be remembered, and whether the persona you’re creating for your company is one you can live with long term. Can you keep up the bubbly, excitable tone of voice that you think personifies your brand? Or should you temper it slightly, keeping the best buzz words but ditching the multiple exclamation marks?
Also, be wary of emphasising any public holidays or specific times of the year, unless you really do only intend to sell your fancy dress costumes at Hallowe’en and your dog beds are only suitable as Christmas presents.
Finally, don’t rely to heavily on style over substance. Quirks and unique traits might get you the customer, but offering a quality service, fulfilling promises and being consistent will keep them happy and get them coming back for more.
After all, don’t you want to stand out for the right reasons?