A unique brand presence can be the difference between having a long-lasting, memorable key message and, well, your mission falling flat. So how do you separate your brand from your competition in an expanding market place? Cut through the clutter. Focus on what it is about your brand that makes it special and authentic.

First and foremost, focus on being YOU

Stay true to your original goal as a brand by being specific to what it is your brand offers. Strong, clear, and lasting brands always start off as a specific brand. McDonald’s started off as an affordable meal delivered in a short amount of time. Best Buy was a brand that offered its customers a store to acquire appliances and play with all the latest tech gadgets and gizmos. Apple wanted to give PC users an alternative operating system. All of these brands were able to grow and adapt to their expanding markets because they focused on what their initial brand messaging offered. Understand what your brand is and deliver on its promise.

Tell your brand’s story

It’s no secret that telling your brand’s story can humanize your brand — but why is it so effective and why does it make your brand unique? The story of your brand acts as a bridge from the marketer to the consumer. Every brand starts as a vision and a personal leap of faith. Tell the reasoning behind starting your brand and use that as a way to make consumer feel personally connected to you. Papa John’s story begins with founder John Schnatter’s making pizza from scratch using equipment he bought from the sale of his Z28 Camaro. That’s the American dream, and he’s able to connect with his consumers by sharing a very real emotional connection. Your brand might offer a product, but your story serves as inspiration, and that’s a quality to which anyone can relate.

Change the experience

Every time a consumer walks through your store, clicks a mouse on your website or purchases something you offer, he or she is experiencing your brand. To fully distinguish your brand from the competition, rewrite your user’s buying and consuming experience. Starbucks was able to make itself a staple of the everyday commute to work, serving as part of people’s daily routines between leaving the house and arriving at work. Zappos was able to hang its hat on incredible customer service and a speedy return policy. The experience these retailers provide is the reason that they’re able to continue to grow and develop loyal consumers.

When focusing on your brand presence, think about who you are and why your brand is what it is. How did you go from a concept to an actual business entity? Tell your story. Be true to yourself and your consumers will follow.

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