Distinct or Different From the Competition?

Every brand wants to be popular and memorable. But how do you stick in the consumers’ minds and get their hearts ticking? Is it by being distinct or different? And which is your brand? If you get it wrong, your brand has no value.

What’s the Difference?

At first, being different or distinct might appear similar, but that’s not entirely true. Different means “not of the same kind” or “partly or totally unlike”. It’s like that juice, made from an exotic fruit, sustainably harvested in the deep forest of Venezuela where no man has ever been before until now. It’s the product that offers something your competitors don’t.

On the other hand, distinct means recognisable. A distinct juice brand might offer the same as the others, but they do it in a recognisable way. They might talk about their juice humorously and self-ironically, taking their juice seriously, but not necessarily themselves.

To sum up, distinctiveness often comes to show on a brand level, while differentiation springs from the product expressed by the brand.

Be True to Yourself

All brands should have an edge. Whether that is a different or distinct edge requires a deep understanding of your category, consumer, culture, and company (the 4Cs). This edge needs to be true to your brand, yourself.

Many brands have a problem with standing out in their category. Too many years of doing the same things as the competitors mean that consumers can’t recognise one brand from another in many categories. Distinction helps consumers quickly find your product. Whereas, having a differentiated product might require more from you to make them feel safe choosing you.

You should only build a differentiated brand if you are truly differentiated at product level. Otherwise, it’s lipstick on a pig. If your product isn’t truly differentiated, focus on being a distinct product – and brand in the market. In the end, distinction is the foundation of branding. Without it, your brand has no value.

As the market evolves, you need to revisit your distinctiveness. Consumer expectations evolve all the time, so what was previously distinct is no longer memorable or unique in the market. So to make yourself relevant again, you need to (re)build your brand on the previously mentioned 4Cs.

Set Your Distinction Free

The true distinction stems from an authentic, confident and unique brand ambition. Being distinct means you take the lead on what you want people to remember about your brand. Consumers won’t remember all the information you throw at them. So, boil your brand down to its most essential and distinct message. And then boost it. Simplify and amplify!

That’s what we did for the iconic Danish soda water, Tuborg Squash. Since 1936, the orange soda has been a favourite among Danes, but it has lost its distinctiveness over time. To rejuvenate the icon, we boiled down the brand design to its most distinctive elements, simplifying the message, so it was crystal clear. This allowed us to amplify the communication to truly pop on the shelves and make people recognise and remember the brand.

So, harness the power of your brand elements, your logo, colours, typeface, illustration and your fifth element. Use them to stand out from the crowd and win over consumers. Define and refine your product and unleash it on the world through distinctive branding. And be confident. It’s the only way to be distinct and win over the consumers’ emotional minds and ever-changing hearts.