What do Dennis Rodman, Lady Gaga, and Marilyn Monroe have in common? Yeah, they're all really talented, but that's not it. They did a phenomenal job at standing out from the crowd so that you'd NOTICE their talent. Ok, now why should you care? Because you should be designing your product to do the same.
With today's crowded market being noisier than ever, it is extremely difficult for your product to not only get noticed, but also hold your customer's interest when they have so many great options begging for their attention.
So, what's a brand to do? Well, the same thing that Rodman, Gaga, and Monroe did, DIFFERENTIATE.
To differentiate your product, you need to set it apart from everything else. That's right... You need to make it different. You make it different by doing what no one else is.
Now keep in mind, different doesn't necessarily mean better, just different. The goal here is to get your product noticed. We'll do that by making it different in a way that makes it more noticeable, memorable, and unique than all the other options. Keep in mind, for the sake of differentiation, being controversial is good. We want to get people talking.
Here’s a look at 5 aspects of your product that you can differentiate, starting deep at its core and ending at the surface level:
1. Different Values
People gravitate to brands that share their values. Many brands today are seizing the opportunity to build a product around a bigger purpose. With the market more crowded than ever, a brand that aligns with a user's personal beliefs will catch and hold their interest.
Imagine that you're developing a new drone brand. To differentiate your drone from the thousands of other drones already on the market you could build your brand around a higher mission, based on your values. Let's say that purpose is to, "Return all lost pets home safely." Suddenly your product tells a compelling story that the others don't, resonating with animal lovers.
2. Different Focus
Rather than designing your product for everyone, narrow your focus on a small target user group that is different from where your competitors have focused. By doing so, you'll be able to design a product to tailor fit a specific type of person instead of loosely fit a wide variety of people. A passerby will be hard-pressed to ignore a product that feels like it was made just for her.
In the case of our drone example, we should shift our focus from any animal lover to a more niche group, animal control officers. This allows the drone to be designed to satisfy the specific needs and wants that these officers have. An animal control officer would have a hard time picking a generic drone over one designed specifically for her.
3. Different Problem
One of the most compelling ways for your product to stand out is to solve a problem for the user that has not yet been addressed. By presenting a solution to an unmet need, your product jumps out and excites your future customer with a promise of relief.
By designing this drone specifically to find and rescue lost pets, this drone solves a problem that no one else has resolved. Not only will solving this problem attract animal control officers who are already shopping for a drone, but it also has the potential to attract officers who hadn't even considered a drone as a solution, growing your market. These officers are the ones that are currently performing slow and limited search and rescues by foot or car.
4. Different Experience
Even if you are solving the same problem as your competitors, you still have an opportunity to take a radically different approach to deliver an experience that is unlike any other. How your product works can be a huge differentiator. (Think Yellow Cab vs. Uber)
Now, let's pretend that there are already three other pet-finding drones out there in the marketplace. We could design this drone around the pet and owner's relationship so that the experience it delivers is radically different. Perhaps the drone includes a video display and speaker so that once the drone is close to the pet, the owner can call her pet close with the sound of her voice. The pet is quicker to trust and then follow the drone once he sees his owner's face on the video. Leveraging the pet/owner relationship results in this drone working very differently than its competitors. This is a differentiator and will grab customer attention.
5. Different Personality
Personality refers to the soul, character, look, and feel of your product. While a byproduct of the factors listed above, personality is the outward image that your product projects. Some controllable aspects of your product's image might be color, materials, and form. In the case of Dennis Rodman, it was his controversial antics, wild hair, and nose rings.
In the case of the drone, one of the most obvious ways to make it stand out is to differentiate its appearance. Perhaps instead of the white, techy, futuristic look of the most common drones, we give it a look and feel similar to that of a lifesaver buoy- friendly, durable, and colored in a bright rescue-red.
To recap, the 5 ways to differentiate your product are by values, focus, problem, experience, and personality. In order to stand out to your future customers in any one of these areas, your product needs to do something for them that other products don't.
So, let me ask you this. How will you differentiate your product to cut through all the noise?