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How to Brand Like a Disruptor

After years of experience as the “disruptive branding agency,” we’ve learned a few things about what it means to stand out. It’s not always a matter of being the loudest or flashiest (in fact, it generally isn’t). It’s about focus.

A focused brand is how you avoid scaring away customers by over-explaining your offering. It helps every member of your team talk about your brand’s unique value in the same compelling way. Brands with focus know what makes them different and use it to tell a story that sticks.

To explain how we help disruptive brands identify what the gap their brand fills, it’ll help to zoom out first.

Vet Your Competition

Start with research. Get clear on what your competitors offer and how they position themselves. Is every one of their websites pitching the same thing in the same way? Insight into the most common industry cliches will help you to position yourself differently. 

But be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater – there might be a reason why these same selling points are popping up repeatedly. Identify what truly matters to your audience, and brainstorm how to communicate your value propositions to naturally ladder up to your brand’s unique story and position (more on that in a second).

Now take a look at each company’s brand identity. Are they all working off of slight variations of the same color palette? The same monotonous tone and key value propositions? Notice how their visual and verbal style, or lack thereof, helps to paint the picture of what it would be like to do business with them. Voila, the importance of brand! 

How would you describe their brand’s visual and verbal personality in three words? Do they have one at all? If not, you have a massive opportunity to win with a delightful brand. 

Define Your Position

Enough focusing on the other guys. Let’s get clear on why you’re here in the first place. Strip away all the industry jargon and marketing fluff. What do you exist to accomplish beyond making money? Now how do you do it? 

By getting to know yourself and your why, you get a better understanding of your brand’s position in the market – the distinctive characteristics that distinguish your approach from everyone else’s. 

Think of it this way. We’re consuming more than ever before. While we toggle between listening to music, scrolling through Instagram, and tuning into the latest breaking news, it’s practically impossible to comprehend the number of advertisements placed in front of us at any given moment. Not to mention, half of them are precisely targeted toward your interests and buying behaviors. Why should your customers choose you over the handful of businesses at their fingertips who do the same thing – perhaps for less cost? 

The more competitive your category, the more critical a differentiation strategy becomes to your brand’s survival. With attention spans decreasing by the second and decision fatigue on the rise, the pressure is on to not only make your value scroll-stopping, but abundantly clear.

So keep it simple. 

Write a list of 10+ statements according to the following format:


Realistically, you probably aren’t the only one in your industry that sincerely cares about its customers. So get creative! Think beyond your products & services themselves and explore how you deliver them. Are you the only company in your category that takes their client meetings on the hiking trail, not the boardroom? The only one with an annual pasta-making competition? These seemingly silly statements uncover your brand’s personality in action, helping you transcend beyond products and services into a living, breathing being. Never shy away from an opportunity to connect your audience to the people behind the purpose. By doing so, you can stop selling to a generic audience, and start attracting the right one. 

Tell Your Story 

Once you have a clear understanding of your position, it’s time to put it to work. 

What brands do you admire? Why do you admire them? Can you apply any elements of their approach into your own visual and verbal system in a way that is authentic to your offering? 

Now that you have a few sources of inspiration, start to think outside the box. If your brand was a car, a dessert, a celebrity, who would it be and why? What does this tell you about your brand’s personality? How might this show up in your brand messaging, and design assets?

Maybe a warm color palette is just the thing to spice up your industry’s cold, clinical hues. An illustrative visual system to bring a sense of humanity to your cut-and-dry B2B business. A voice and tone to merge your serious message with a lighthearted, approachable style. Whatever your differentiator is, run with it. Your brand is meant to carry your story across every single touchpoint, giving your consumers insight into who you are – and why you’re different – with every interaction. Consistency is key to building trust, the foundation of customer loyalty.

Want to know the secret to true disruption? Treat your customers like people, and build a brand that acts like one. You don’t have to be a cheeky direct-to-consumer brand to show your human side. By allowing your unique personality to shine through, you break down the brand/consumer barrier for a deeper, more authentic relationship.

Finding focus in your brand strategy makes for more effective marketing and a more productive marketing team. A distinct and cohesive look and feel is the cherry on top.

Get focused on what makes your brand stand out with a little help from our Brand Thinkbook.

By Lauren Carr-Gasso Jun 16, 2022
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