The worst thing a brand can do is…

not STAND OUT [for the right reasons]

Life is easier if a brand stands out. The number of times people need to hear a message and remember the brand is greatly reduced. The number of times people need to see a brand identity before they remember it is greatly reduced. The number of times people need to come in contact with a brand and can recall what the brand does, is greatly reduced.

Things are a lot harder when a brand doesn’t stand out. More needs to be invested in marketing, advertising and all other communications for the brand to cut through and be remembered. Brands that don’t stand out lack the stickiness needed to create loyalty and advocacy.

“The right reasons” for a brand to stand out are numerous and varied. As long as customers feel the brand is on their side and aligned with their key values and needs, that’s what matters most. As long as the brand is functionally and emotionally fulfilling a need and provides a competitive Point Of Difference, then it is helping it stand out.

Even a badly designed logo and the visual identity can work IF it is deliberately reflecting the brand’s values. Ling’s Cars is a design and UX disaster but it aligns perfectly with the brands cheap, cheerful, industry disrupting essence so it actually works. The brand can also be brutally plain and still stand out if all the direct competition is busy and bright.

A brand that stands out can do so on many levels, from the product to production, values, culture, service, design… As long these differences are consistent with the core brand essence they will help with cut through. ‘Playing it safe’ is a luxury only monopolies can afford. Being conservative may feel like the safer bet but in the long run it will only hold a brand back and see it swamped by more distinctive competitors.

Our brains are hard wired to notice things that are different, standing out provides a genuine competitive advantage. Truth be told, punching your customers or poisoning them is probably worse than not standing out but this is up there, in my opinion.