Why Different Is Better Than Better?

Different is better than better.

Prima facie, few would approve this. But there is an inherent simplicity and rationale behind this famous quote by Sally Hogshead.

While her context was in the space of personal development, this is equally apt for brands in this digital age.

We, marketers, understand the importance of differentiation, but end up investing our energies on the scale: good – better – best.

My product/service is better than _____. [the earlier version / the nearest competition / the category leader].

By definition, this is a comparative scale. If you’re claiming to be better because of a certain feature, price, or technology today, your competition can do the same tomorrow.

What will stop your competition in such a case? Nothing.

The thing with this approach, where wordplay is the number one strategy, your competition doesn’t even need to have a better offer.

This unidimensional focus on being better makes your offering more like your competition (or alternatives).

So while you’ll keep working towards good > better > best, for consumers it will turn out to be similar > same.

This is when your beloved brand becomes a commodity. And, in today’s hyper-saturated environment, it is the worst place to be.

Of course, being different is a conscious choice. But it is for the right reasons.

Different, unlike many would think, is not a conscious effort to try and stand out from the crowd for the sake of it, but it is going closer to your true self (or your purpose of existence) as a brand.

In fact, if your leadership team is very clear on this (purpose), your brand doesn’t need to change drastically and pretend to be something it isn’t.

All you need to do is become more of yourself and share your worldview. Tell your audience what you want to achieve, how you want to help, and why they should trust you.

And be authentic and consistent while you do that.

If you are clear about why your brand exists and what it stands for, then it becomes easier to convey this with conviction.

When you dare to be meaningfully different, you naturally focus on the user experience than the latest. Reducing friction takes precedence over using the fanciest stuff. Benefits mean more than the features.

Different, really is better than better.

Apple, when they launched the Macintosh in the mid-eighties (and again when they launched the iPhone). Google, when they launched the search engine in the late-nineties. Tesla, in the last decade.

There is enough proof in the pudding.

It is easier said than done, and it may take some time, but this is the only sustainable way of building your tribe – the foundation of any successful brand.

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Amit Tilekar
Customer-obsessed digital marketer and growth marketing consultant

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