3-Step Process to Differentiate Your Brand from the Competition

by Oct 28, 2020Branding, Resoundcast, Tools & Resources

Differentiate your brand

3-Step Process to Differentiate Your Brand from the Competition

by | Oct 28, 2020

Comparisons help contrast two things, bringing out differences and showing how each is special. Why does this matter for businesses? Without bringing out the differences between you and your competition, your understanding of the difference will be mushy. And it’s hard to explain to others an idea that is mushy in your own mind. The mushiness comes from two places: your inability to call things what they are, and your lack of information. In other words, you will struggle to differentiate your brand from your competition. This process helps you deal with both: we focus only on the information you can know, and we analyze it in a way that forces us to make decisions and distinctions.

Here’s how we’ll do it.

Step 1: Write a SWOT Analysis

First, organize what you know. Don’t let lack of information stop you: You don’t have inside info, so look at the outside:

  • What does your competition say?
  • How do they present themselves? Describe their messaging, creative, and positioning efforts.
  • What actions are they taking?
  • How do people feel about them? What do their customers say about them publicly?


After collecting this information, turn to your own business. Write down the following:

  1. Detail your operational strengths as an organization. How are you able to serve your customers well?
  2. What are your weaknesses? What about your company gets in the way of serving your customers?
  3. Describe your opportunities. Are there obvious opportunities out there in the market? What makes them such a good fit, given your strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What are the threats to your success?
    1. Market factors, like the economy.
    2. Indirect competition, like replacements for what you do.
    3. Direct competitors, who do the exact same thing you do. This is what we’ll focus on in the next step.

For a more complete treatment of the SWOT, check out this article.

Step 2: Review threats and your strengths

Compare Yourself to Them

Here’s where you really draw distinctions. Write down why you think this other company is a threat. What is it good at that makes it competitive to you? How do you compare favorably? How do they nullify your strengths by being better in that area? This last one is huge because it requires honesty. You have to admit that this other company is better than you at something you think you’re good at. Worry about how you’ll overcome them some other day. Today is a day for honesty.

A good example: Let’s say you listed customer service as a strength, but another company has a better reputation for customer service. Be honest and realize that you can’t compete on that alone.

Test Your List (Eliminate and Develop)

Now, come up with all the strengths you have remaining, after you’ve eliminated some. Is there something you listed, like the ability to deliver reliably, that your competition has trouble with? Maybe that’s your big difference.

Also, before we leave customer service off the table, let’s also think about what we mean by customer service. Your competition may have great scores in an area like that. But if you can deliver unique value, you might be able to cut them off.

For instance, let’s say they lean on great customer service scores in surveys and they plaster it all over in their advertising. But even with that, you know they have wait times. And you don’t. This could be an easy way to differentiate your brand. So if customer service is so valuable to your market, you could advertise zero hold times, offering a more-specific and believable promise.

Be careful though. If they own customer service, it can be tricky to win it from them. Make sure it’s worth the investment.

Step 3: How do your comparative strengths differentiate your brand?

Let’s review: Comparative advantage is the measure in B2B, not absolute advantage. There’s a difference.

  • Absolute advantage is where you’re better than everyone else (in your market).
  • Comparative advantage is where you have a lower opportunity cost.

A great example: let’s say Michael Jordan is the fastest typist in the world. Agnes Jones is the second-fastest typist. So Michael Jordan should be a typist, right? Wrong.

Even though MJ has an absolute advantage in typing, he made so much money playing basketball, it makes no sense for him to switch to typing. In other words, his opportunity cost is too high.

Agnes, on the other hand, may have no skill that’s as valuable as typing, and, therefore, has a comparative advantage in typing, even if MJ is faster.

Now, apply it to business

The same thing applies to business. In finding out on what grounds to compete with competition…

“To find people’s comparative advantages, do not compare their absolute advantages. Compare their opportunity costs.” -Lauren F. Landsburg

What kinds of things can you offer that only you can be the best at? If someone’s better at that than you, and they compete with you, find another thing to be competitive at.

Build on them.

  1. Can you shift and optimize a suite of products/services to bring out those strengths?
  2. How do these strengths help you best live out your values?
  3. How do these strengths help determine how you speak about yourself…the brand personality you show daily in everything you communicate?

Brand values, personality, and the processes that make them work.

Now you know your values, brand personality, and the skills that make you compare well with your competition. Develop processes that magnify those strengths. Create communication that sells the customer’s benefit from your strengths. Create brand messaging that magnifies them.

Build around your values, personality, and actual abilities, and you’ll find a long-term platform to grow on and that will never fail you. In other words, you’ll uncover the way to differentiate your brand from even your strongest competition.

If you’re wanting to dive deeper, consider signing up for our upcoming Brand Roundtable Chats. Our goal with these conversations is to dig into your brand issues and connect you with like-minded peers in the marketing and business space. Our CEO Mike Jones serves as the facilitator in these conversations, drawing on years of experience operating a creative branding agency in the Phoenix area. If you’re working on improving your branding chops, you won’t want to miss these hour-long discussions.

Resound Newsletter

Get more industry-leading branding and marketing insights like this delivered to you monthly.

Our Book Is Here!

Unlock the power of authentic branding to become a better marketer and business owner.

Latest Posts

The Key to a Smooth Branding Experience

You’ve decided to pull the trigger and invest in your brand, setting aside the budget and time needed to get things rolling. Your workshop is scheduled and you’re getting excited about the future. Or maybe you’re nervous about the investment and the process. Here are...

The Simplest B2B Funnel Strategy to Get Started

In B2B marketing, we're often supporting business development funnels. Basically, we're sending traffic to sales. Those are different from B2C funnels in that we're not trying to get people to buy. Instead, we're trying to get people to get into a conversation that...

Can Authentic Brands Be Canceled?

Last month, I wrote about how authentic brands that last and endure build a loyal community. This month, I’m tackling a logical, highly relevant follow-up question. Given the polarization that’s put everyone in our country under increasing pressure to take sides, can...

Don’t Improve Your Marketing Processes (Let Your Team Do It)

With the right marketing team, and clear process improvement objectives, you can change the entire culture of your organization and get a ton done…if you know how to ask questions. Many of us are doers or at least planners. We know how to get things moving. And hiring...

To Build an Enduring B2B Brand, Start Small

A strong, healthy B2B brand builds a community.  If a B2B brand is serving customers well and consistently, and guiding its employees with a strong vision, then its community will see the B2B brand through ups, downs, and adaptations to a changing marketplace. Of...

Brand Foundations Course

How to Unlock Your Remarkable Brand

Discover Your Brand Values, Brand Personality and Brand Story to get you and your team thinking about what your authentic brand is and how to manifest it.

Brand Webinars

Learn how to develop your brand’s foundation to get a competitive edge.

Unlock Your Remarkable Brand

Want to build unlock your remarkable brand and lasting relationships, but aren’t sure where to start? Set up a call and talk about it with Mike.

Your organization is remarkable – now start acting like it.

Our new book, You Are Remarkable, helps businesses and organizations unlock their authentic, genuine, real brand identities and express them effectively to their customers.