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What does it take to stand out in a competitive market? The long answer is complicated, but one strategy for achieving this is through differentiation. This refers to the process of planning and marketing in a way that makes your business unique. Implementing it requires your brand and mission aligning with the needs of your customers.

The following are three key characteristics of brands who differentiate well:

They add value

What do your customers value? Service? Time? Money? Fun? By carefully examining these needs, you can adjust your brand in a way that better aligns with their values. A great example of this is Whole Foods Market. The grocery chain knows its base values wellness, so they brand themselves accordingly, creating an experience which emphasizes healthy food alternatives and products.

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They inspire action

Why should customers buy into your brand? Successful companies brand themselves in a manner that makes people feel they need to experience their brand. Nike’s trademark slogan, “Just Do It,” capitalizes on this very strategy. The three words convey a range of actions and inspire customers to be active.

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They spark emotion

What do your customers want to feel? People are not rational buyers. By gauging emotional response, you can differentiate yourself in a powerful and decisive way. A clear example of this is Chick-fil-a. The fast food giant’s exemplary service and southern comfort menu aim to evoke warmth and homeyness. This has been the backbone of their success for years.

Surely, these are all good practices, but ultimately, the best place to start is where customers are now. What are competitors doing wrong? Where are the gaps in the brand? Where are their deficiencies?

By exploring these gaps or the pains they cause buyers, you can properly calculate and plan your brand in a way that executes on these key strategies. This way you too can feel confident that your brand stands out from the crowd.

Source: Sergio Perez, Director of Digital Marketing at Huddle House, Inc