Differentiation made easy


Standing out from the competition can be hard, especially when there’s a lot of competition and when those competitors honestly have good products or services to sell. Even when you bring something new to the market, you will still have to compete with current businesses. How do you communicate how your brand is different?

Through differentiation you aspire to make customers think of your brand first when they are purchasing a product or service within your industry. It also helps them justify a premium price by simplifying the decision-making process and makes it easier to rationalize purchases.

Stand out from the competition


Here are four ways to differentiate yourself:

1. Differentiate by name

Brand identity begins with your business name. Selecting the perfect name for your company can be one of the most important parts of building a great brand. But what can you do when the name already exists for some time and changing it is not an option?

You can still add a memorable and unique tagline or pay-off. Something that conveys what your business, service, or product is about. It describes who you are and what you do. A great copywriter should be able to do that.

Consider how easy it is to spell, pronounce, and abbreviate the company name or tagline. For MINSK we chose two pay-offs that we change intermittently: ‘Good design mattersk’, and ‘a branding agency with devotion to motion’

The first is purposefully written wrong, so it stands out, but still is a playful take on the -sk at the end of our company name. The latter is in rhyme, so it is easy to remember.

By properly choosing and paying close attention to name differentiation, you will grab the audience’s attention and capture their hearts.

2. Differentiate with your visual identity

A strong visual identity design doesn’t just occur by chance; it requires a strategic approach to brand identity design. It should be a showcase of how and why your business or its products or services are superior to competitors to attract clients.


Elements of a visual identity.

Some guidelines:

  • Logo: A strong brand logo affect your customers’ first impressions. In addition to being easily recognized, it should be versatile (to be used in different touch points), and timeless (not going with current trends that will be outdated 3 years from now.)
  • Colors: A famous study on the influence of color on sales found that 92.6% of respondents said that color was the most influential factor in purchasing a product. To effectively stand out from your competitors, your logo, marketing materials, and website design should all be consistent. Making brand colors return in different places helps establish consistency.
  • Font & visual elements: To differentiate your brand, you must choose fonts that communicate the right message. Make sure the fonts you choose communicate your company’s identity while being visually distinctive. If you use visual elements, be consistent. When using photography for example, photography styles should fit your brand.
  • Motion: Animating certain elements will make people notice. Think of drawing attention to your business process or sign-up buttons on your website. Or add a small animation of your logo to your email signature. All these details combined, add up to one great experience of your brand.

Differentiate with your email signature.

No matter whether you are just starting a new business or have already established one, take the time to consider your brand’s identity.

The look and feel of your company’s brand identity will determine your marketing and sales, which in turn will play a major part in how successful or unsuccessful your company will be.

3. Combined differentiation.

Differentiation can be divided into three types: Vertical, Horizontal and Combined.

Combined differentiation

Combined differentation.

For your own brand you may know or feel how your product or service is different, but how to communicate it? For most services it can be through price or customer service. However, what to do when competitors have a similar price point (horizontal), or their customer service is of equal quality to yours (vertical)? In that case it comes down to finding a combination of values that together form a unique combination of reasons to go for your brand.

For example: “High quality and great customer service at bargain prices.” Or “fast turnover with extreme ease of use.” This of course has to fit in with your business strategy. Just be sure your USPs are what you want to be known for. And whether you think you will want to continue delivering on those USPs in the future.

Keep in mind that people have certain cognitive biases as well. For example, a higher price point is usually associated with more value. So play into those as much as you can and you can be distinctly different from your competition.

4. Differentiate through customer experience

If everything else is in place, improving customer experience should top your list of priorities. If a customer has a poor experience, they will tell their friends and family about it. If the service is ‘just’ good, you won’t hear from them.

However, if they have an exceptionally good experience, you will build a fanbase of people who rave about you and tell the world. They will even be willing to pay more for your products and services.

Improve your customer experience.

Here are some of the best ways to provide a consistently satisfying customer experience that will make your clients feel warm and fuzzy.

  1. Test your customer experience by writing down how the process works. Especially after approving the sale (when they depart from their money), people tend to have ‘buyer’s remorse’. You can combat this by giving a thorough explanation of what will happen next in the process, and make them see all the things that will be set in motion for them.
  2. Identify where your customers get confused and frustrated. Document the problem areas so you can fix them and improve your strong points.
  3. Ensure that everyone at your company is involved and knows what the client expects, for a better overall experience for customers.
  4. It is a good idea to monitor your customers’ feedback during and after the process to check if you are meeting their needs. Learn from them how the experience could be better and where you can improve.

Learn from your customers feedback.



In the end, most of these improvements need only be made once, and will last you a life time.

Copywriting and design, when done right, can be used indefinitely. The same can be said for finding your values. Customer service, on the other hand, usually needs ongoing improvement. If your company goals shift over time, or as the times change (and social behavior), differentiation through values and customer service may need to be kept in check or brushed up on.

In any case, being aware of these differentiation techniques should keep you on track for success.

About the author

Bas Dumoulin

Bas is partner & growth director at Studio MINSK. He has a background in film directing and 
over the past 22 years has had a successful career
 in online advertising. He’s won numerous awards for campaigns and worked for clients like Carlsberg, Tuborg and Heineken. As a result, he is always very thirsty…

Studio MINSK is a branding agency with devotion to motion

We make brands communicate stronger and perform better. Whether that’s through print, online, TV or live. If you’re curious about how we can help your brand get ahead of the competition, get in touch!

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