Daring to Be Different


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Probably you have heard it for a million times already, set yourself or your organization apart to make a difference.

It’s “cliché-ish”, probably overused to an extent but the reality is – it still holds some truth.

We have seen companies stand out because they are different – some are even a success. With that, a cliché can still make your business more profitable.

So for today, we will discuss the dangers of going with the flow. What happens when you choose not to be different at all.

Herd Mentality

From the name itself, a herd flocks together. Similarly, some people and organizations do that as well. Someone in the industry comes up with definitive qualities of a product and service that gets the attention of the target market and because of the success, the other companies follow suit.

For example – vehicles, an industry leader may market their product as the most spacious of its kind and the customers are taken by it. The other manufacturers will then produce cars with that similar feature also, a spacious interior.

With spacious cars prominently as a focus, there’s not much options for the market to choose from. What if they want a spacious vehicle and at the same time a fuel efficient one?

It would take some time again when another company would develop those qualities in one product. The other organizations tend to copy what qualities the current leader is selling.

What’s the rationale behind this behavior? People don’t recognize the trait that’s not within them that’s making the competitor successful. They only see what they have in common.

Why they flock together?

It’s good to stand out but why is there a tendency of companies to follow each other?

  • The organization makes a breakthrough characteristic in their product or service.
  • The target market loves this addition, making this organization the top in its industry.
  • The competitors see that this feature is selling so they add it to their own products or services as well.
  • Because of the feature is widely used by now, it becomes a standard in its line.
  • The market will now expect that this is a staple feature in this product or service.
  • Because of this adapted standard, the requirements needed to compete for this product or service has gone up as well.
  • Companies will have to come up with another breakthrough feature again for this particular line. It has become a cycle.

This process attracts a lot of competitors so it gets hard to capture the majority of the market. It’s more difficult to have brand loyalty with the competition going on. This is not a good place for your company to be in.

The organizations will work through this cycle over and over again until something will break the process. Yes, there a way to get out of this. Here’s how to do it:


One way to move away from the cycle is to go on reverse. Think about the situation, you don’t need to compete with the new value proposition. Go to the basic, you can do the same function but you do it in a separate path.

Take for example budget airlines. There was a time that airlines were competing each other by providing more inflight perks, and bonuses when you take more flights with them. In-flight meals – the more delicious, the better!

Some would even seek professional chefs for this purpose. Providing better in-flight kit, better everything just to make them the preferred airline!

Then came the budget airlines where everything is just basic. No frills travel. None of the inflight perks. The features that made the other airlines stand out were eliminated. And guess what, it is a successful concept.

It’s still all about flying in planes, but budget airlines changed the game. Instead of competing with the perks of flying, they used the lower cost of fare as an edge.

You go on reverse, the features that the airlines were competing with were removed from the picture. The customers didn’t expect this but they surely noticed!

Breaking Away

You can also turn into a breakaway brand to change the pattern. What does it mean to have a breakaway brand? By nature, we categorize our experiences and it becomes our default reference.

A breakaway brand is changing how you see things. You may have thoughts associated with an object already but breakaway brands change that mindset.

Think about Swiss-made watches. You’d assume that these fine time pieces are expensive and only few people can afford them. Swatch has changed this concept.

They have created affordable watches that comes in several editions in standalone stores. Because of this, it has become a fashion piece that a lot of people can actually buy.

It has changed how people see Swiss time pieces. People welcomed this idea with understanding and they totally get it. It’s the first time the market has experienced this but the idea remained with them.

Being Hostile

Actually, this would come as a surprise to some people. How could being  hostile be effective? You must take note and notice that this tactic is different after all. It’s unlike the other kinds of branding but nonetheless it still attracts some customers.

Hostile branding has this premise of being more exclusive than the rest. From the name itself, it’s not very welcoming like the other brands. They seem to focus on the “negative” aspects of their brand and they actually win it.

Take for example, the mini. They are such small cars – the smallest among the market where there’s a competition who has the most interior space, most leg room, compartments, and so on.

Mini market themselves for being small. Even smaller than the rest of the cars in the industry. They went against the features of popular cars boasting large spaces.

True enough, Mini has captured a market for their cars. There are actually people who seek smaller cars.  Their decision to become different worked.

And then there is this hotdog place in Chicago, where your hotdog order comes with insults. People go here to be insulted upon receiving their order.

Even though people will receive vile, rude comments, they still want to try out the place because of the novelty. It’s different and entertaining in another level. Who else insults their customers?

With hostile branding, the companies aren’t focused in downplaying their negative aspects. They work on it, celebrate it. Strangely people are also attracted to this.

To summarize, there are several ways to go out of the cycle. It can be done, you can be different.

Yes, it takes courage to break out of the norm because you have been used to that process for probably the longest time. However, do think about the benefits when you finally try to be different.




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