To be more successful, stop competing*

To be more successful, stop competing*


*Pause. And engage your brand strategy

Conventional wisdom tells us we must constantly compete to stay ahead, right? But this can lead to a relentless pitch battle around benefits and price.

There is a better way, create a space between your brand and perceived competitors, effectively rendering price wars and feature battles less relevant..

Differentiation beats competition

Competing on price and features can be a race to the bottom. Differentiation, on the other hand, creates a unique position for you in the minds of customers. We’re all bombarded with choices. Standing out is critical.

Figure out and focus on what makes your brand unique and valuable. You’ll reduce the need to compete solely on price.

Brand distinctiveness

Someone once put it that, ‘Different is better than better.’ Of course, having both is a real winner.

When your brand occupies a distinct position in your customer’s mind, they are less likely to base their decisions solely on price, or features. But even simply standing apart from others... That is, being powerfully visually and verbally distinctive from others (going right back to the roots of all great design and advertising) is not to be underestimated.

So, create a space in the market that’s uniquely yours. Rather than continuously striving to be incrementally better than competitors, focus on being different in a way that resonates with your audience.

This is not likely to be something ‘made up’, it’s something that's innately in you. You and what you offer at your best.

Plus, being narrowly focused on a few perceived competitors can have other pitfalls, think of all of the marketplaces in recent years that have been disrupted ‘out of left-field’. The incumbents, focused on micro adjustments, never saw them coming.

Is it risky? Standing out might be uncomfortable?

Seth Godin famously said, ‘The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe.’

Being irrelevant is far greater than the risk of standing out.

When your brand differentiates itself effectively, you create a long-term advantage that competitors will find difficult to replicate quickly.

Build emotional connections, before rational arguments

This might feel uncomfortable, but stay with me for a moment. We are emotional creatures who like to explain our decisions in (post-) rational terms. (Yes, even you Mr Engineer, the evidence says so). Whether you are consumer or B2B focused, don’t shy away from emotions. Time and time again, when I interview client customers, I hear how a client’s product or service made them feel, ‘took the pressure off’, ‘was relieved to find’, or ‘great people to work with, I trust them ’– above  technical considerations or product superiority. But the latter seems more rational and often becomes the focus of marketing.

‘On a lifetime value basis, emotionally-connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers’, HBR.

By focusing on building emotional bonds with your customers, you can insulate your brand from the pricing pressures of direct competition.

Long-term benefits

When everyone’s hustling to outdo each other, take a breather.

Pause for thought. Can you create your own space in the market?

Focus on defining a brand strategy that’s as unique as you are. It’ll help you set a trajectory for success.


The wise warrior avoids the battle.
Sun Tzu

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