How to Stand Out in a Crowded Market
As a designer, I’ve had the chance to work with so many talented business owners across many fields.
Some are well into being an entrepreneur and others are just starting out. When you’re starting anything there are always questions surrounding your new business idea. I often feel like I hear people breaking into the online space say something along the lines of, “there are already so many people doing what I want to do, how will I stand out?”
While there are a lot of ‘competitors’ in every space, there are still so many ways that you can stand out because of your brand.
To illustrate today’s point, I pulled the homepages of four different course business “authorities” who could be considered competitors and broke it down into ways they’re so different, even though they all offer similar services.
If you take a look at each of their sites you will realize they all offer very similar services but their branding is very different. They all highlight different brand colors, fonts, styles, homepage length and features. Their brands all make you feel a different way and you’re probably drawn to one brand over the rest because one style and feel resonates with you more.
That’s what you want when people come to your site. You want to bring a full branding experience to life. This starts with creating a mood board. Your mood board should be a collage of images that convey how you want your audience to FEEL when they experience your brand.
Probably the most well-known (and referenced by all of my clients as a brand to emulate) of them all is Amy Porterfield. Amy’s brand has a very “polished” feel to it with primarily white and grey features, and a hint of bright yellow. Her brand feels warm, friendly and professional, and will likely appeal to the widest variety of people. This makes total sense as Amy has a massive following of female (and male) entrepreneurs.
Next up is Mariah Coz. Mariah’s brand has a more “edgy” and “retro” feel to it with the red and orange color palette, and the washed out vintage filter that she’s using for her brand photos. When a user looks at Mariah’s website, he or she might be able to quickly tell that Mariah plays by her own rules and doesn’t follow trends. This vibe is going to appeal to exactly the type of person that Mariah wants to work with, and it’s going to eliminate those who want to “do what everyone else is doing.”
Next up is Gemma Bonham-Carter. Gemma’s brand has a more “clean” and “girl next door” look and feel, highlighting neutral colors with a purple accent. When I look at Gemma’s website, I feel like I could curl up and have a cup of coffee with her in her living room. Her choice of colors and images are very welcoming and homey. Someone who craves a cozy and clean vibe, might feel a connection with Gemma and want to learn more about her work.
Lastly is Courtney Foster-Donahue. Courtney’s brand has more of a “fun” and “playful” vibe. Her ‘not too serious’ but ‘smart’ approach is supported by her preview of “The Courtney Show” on her home page. Someone who resonates with feminine, playful & quirky vibes might very well find that in Courtney’s programs and offers!
Think about how you feel when you see Amy, Mariah, Gemma, and Courtney’s brand.
Think about what aspects of their branding you like because of the emotion it drew from you. You will quickly realize that each one of them makes you feel a certain way, and gives off an essence or vibe about the brand that it belongs to.
While I personally love all of their brands, they do all leave you walking away with a different feeling, which is exactly what GREAT branding does!
A few things to consider when you’re working on your branding:
Have clarity around who you serve
You need to have your value proposition statement (VPS). Your VPS is what shares the story of what you do, with the right people, the people who need to hear it. It lets them know WHY they need to be working with you. It clearly spells out exactly what you want to be known for and what you’re an expert at.
Having clarity around this will help you niche down so you’re communicating and targeting the correct audience. When you’re planning your brand think to yourself – what do you do, for whom, how do you do it, and the benefits your clients will get as a result of working with you.
Tell your story
Your branding is a representation of YOU and you want your personality to match your branding. If you’re more of a “fun, laid back, go with the flow” kind of person, you shouldn’t have a super sophisticated brand. It’s good to let your personality shine through. People are going to buy from your brand because they trust you so don’t leave that part out. The world is full of brands and you want yours to stand out authentically, so be yourself in your branding!
Create a connection with your audience
This goes back to creating the feeling of your brand with your mood board. You want your audience to feel connected to you through your branding and personality. Striking an emotion is what is going to have people remember your brand and make someone more likely to buy from you. Talk to your customers like you would talk to your friends. Give your audience the same type of attention you’d give the people closest to you.
If you don’t focus on these three things you won’t have a brand that stands out and that’s what you need in a crowded market. You can create your own name in the online space, even with the ‘competition’ if you focus on getting clear on who you serve, be authentic to you, and connect with your audience.