Define Your Difference To Stand Out and Make Your Business Shine Above The Competition

Erin Ferree

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Thoughtfully defining your business – and your differentiation - will help you to understand who you are, what you do, and what makes you different. Not many small businesses take the time to answer those core questions about their business, but those answers are essential to creating a strong brand identity, focused messaging, and effective marketing materials. Having these will make a stronger impression on your target audience – once you stand out, they’ll be more likely to remember you when they have a need for your products or services.

Taking this step will make you stand out from your competition. Just think of your competition – and how they communicate about and market their businesses. So many people are out promoting their business without knowing these basic facts about their businesses, that if you have these elements in place, you’ll outshine your competition.

In order to define your business’s difference, you need to:

Determine your business’s characteristics:

  • Who You Are: What is your business all about? What is your mission, and what are your values?

  • What You Do: What are the unique services and/or products that you offer?

    Study and contrast your business with the competition:

  • Who Is Your Competition: Who offers the same or similar services or products as you? Who are you consistently quoting your service against, or competing with for shelf space? These are your closest competitors, the ones with which you should be most concerned in the definition process.

  • What Makes You Different: How are you different from those competitors? Do you have a specific area of specialty, either in the industry that you serve, problem that you solve, or the service/product that you provide? Do you serve a certain geographic area? Be careful to avoid the differentiators “better, ” “faster, ” and “cheaper”—they’re either too subjective or too difficult to maintain as your business grows and matures. Your differentiators should stay with you for the life of your business.

    Plan for your best customers:

  • Who You Can Best Help: Determine who makes up your target market. It’s best to determine both their demographics—facts like age, race, sex, occupation —and their psychographics—their motivations, hobbies, desires, and other factors that make up their personality.

  • How Best to Reach Them: Once you know who you want to help, the next step is to determine how to let them know that you can help them. This means determining how to market your business and which types of media are best to get your message out.

  • Which Differentiators Will Compel Them: Creating differentiators will also help your target clients to identify with you. If you tell them that you specialize in their industry and their problem, then they’re much more likely to hire you.

    Defining your difference by answering all of these questions allows you to thoroughly understand your business and to better communicate with your customers. When you are specific about what you do differently from your competition, customers can easily identify you as the most appropriate business to meet their needs. It truly simplifies your marketing, promotional, and passive income processes.

    And, when you Define Your Difference first, before creating your brand or marketing materials, you will ensure that your brand and marketing efforts will make you stand out from your competition just by communicating these elements of your Brand Differentiation.

    Erin Ferree, Founder and Lead Designer of elf design, is a brand identity and marketing design strategist who creates big visibility for small businesses. Erin helps her clients discover their brand differentiators, then designs logos, business cards, and other collateral materials and websites to reflect that differentiation, as well as to increase credibility and memorability. This can help you to increase your sales and put more ease into your sales cycle. To learn more about defining your difference, check out our eBook, Stand Out, at: For more information about elf design, please visit: Logo design at

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