By Echo Wang
Talented entrepreneurs trying to break into their respective industries often find themselves overshadowed by powerful front-runners.
Yet these dominant brands once started out as small companies, too. That’s why even the biggest brands still have plenty to teach the newest start-ups about standing out from the crowd.
Out-of-the-box thinking, early adoption of new technology, and a relentless focus on customer satisfaction are some of the reasons today’s top brands got to where they are.
Major companies like Toyota, HomeSense, General Electric, Dove, Redbull, and Apple have had success through strategies that made their brand stand out amongst the rest. Take a look at the examples in this two-part article and see how you could start refining your own business strategy.
Standing Out Through Loyalty
Whatever your industry, Toyota is a great example of the power of earning customer trust and loyalty. Toyota stands out with one of the highest customer-loyalty ratings in the automotive industry because the auto manufacturer has continuously dedicated themselves to building reliable, quality cars.
This in turn has helped build a loyal following of repeat customers, but it has also afforded another strategic opportunity: the trust to move in new directions.
To successfully introduce new technologies and models to a line-up, a company must have customers that trust their brand. Essentially, the trust consumers have in previous products is extended to new lines.
When they introduced the Prius, the loyalty Toyota had built up meant customers had confidence in what at the time was a very new hybrid technology. The transition was seamless as they were giving customers what they wanted: a new, reliable, and efficient vehicle. Today the Prius is the top-selling hybrid on the market.
The key lesson here is by making a serious commitment to winning trust through delivering a quality product or service will open doors for your company.
In this case customer trust helped them move into manufacturing hybrids in a way that their customers embraced.
Standing Out Through Values
One very direct way to stand out from the crowd is to set your brand against societal conventions. By doing this your brand is not simply saying “we’re different from the competition” but just “we’re different.”
When it works it can be a very powerful tactic. Dove had major success doing this when they started campaigns that challenged the standards in the beauty product market. They released several campaigns that promoted confidence and beauty in all body types – despite shape, size, race, or “imperfections.”
Society reacted to these campaigns as they challenged people to think outside of the norm and to appreciate everyone for who they are.
Of course, it’s easy to see the logic of this in hindsight. Nevertheless that Dove was bold enough to challenge convention and reaped the rewards, showing the value of thinking about what your brand stands for, and how you can apply this in a way that challenges convention, and truly resonates with your audience.
Standing Out Through Simplicity
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
The key ingredient to the success of Apple can be seen in this quote from Steve Jobs: simplicity. Since its early days, Apple has developed incredible advanced technology products, yet they have arguably seen their greatest success when these products have been at their simplest.
The focus on making things straightforward for users has been potent. Not only has it seen them develop products that users have been able to relate to, finding them intuitive and convenient, but it also served as a way to differentiate from the competition.
By keeping things simple Apple made their competitors’ products seem relatively over-complicated by comparison, particularly when launching initial versions of their computers, phones or tablets.
Finding difference through simplicity therefore helped foster a sense of ‘otherness’ for Apple’s customers. A feeling that these products were unlike other products available out there. This is something that customers identified with, and it is why today Apple remains number one on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands.
This is part one of a two-part article. Get even more strategy inspiration in part two .
Echo Wang is a syndicated mortgage specialist and real estate investment advisor with a true passion for helping others make the most of their investment portfolios. She prides herself in providing an outstanding service to her clients and finding only the best real estate deals.