4 Ways You Can Set Your Retail Brand Apart From the Competition

Larry Alton
Larry Alton
Guest Contributor

Being average is safe, and you might even be able to sustain nominal success for a period of time, but average won’t get you very far in a crowded industry – are you willing to put in the work to rise above and command attention?

Competition brings out the best in businesses – at least that’s what they say. But competition also makes it more difficult to stand out. If you want to enjoy the best of both worlds, you need to move past being average and step out with boldness. 

When was the last time you saw an “average” brand thrive? In other words, can you recall a time where a brand that offered no exceptional value to customers was able to find success in a crowded industry with lots of competitors? Probably not. And if they did succeed, their achievements were likely short lived.

In order to find sustained success in a crowded market, you must stand out. This doesn’t mean you have to be eccentric or loud, but you do need to prioritize visibility. Below are four practical ways to set yourself apart.

1 – Find Your Identity

The very first step is to find a brand identity and really focus on fleshing out the details so that you can convey it to your audience.

“Your brand can be playful … it can be authoritative … it can be quirky … it can be mysterious … basically, it can be whatever you want it to be. However, the last thing you want your brand to be is boring,” Jereme Sanborn writes for PayAnywhere, a leading credit card processing company.

The objective is to distinguish your brand from the competition and develop a persona that authentically engages your target audience. If you do this, you won’t have anything to worry about. 

2 – Do Something No Other Brand is Doing

What’s the one thing your retail brand is doing that no one else is doing? You don’t have to be transforming the industry, but there should be at least one differentiating factor.

A differentiating factor could be something as simple as a unique return policy or a generous loyalty program that rewards spending. It could also be something bigger, like an innovative store design or immersive shopping experience. What will you do?

3 – Become Intimate with Customers

Your customers need to feel like they have a relationship with your brand. If they simply walk into the store, buy a product, and leave, there isn’t a whole lot of connection. This might not hurt you in the short-term, but it definitely has a long-term impact in terms of repeat business and brand equity.

There are lots of ways to establish deep, meaningful connections with your customers, but nothing replaces face-to-face interaction. The benefit of being in the retail business is that your customers are physically present in your store. This gives you an opportunity to shake hands, have conversations, and build rapport – things that don’t happen as easily over the internet.

4 – Speak a Consistent Language

The final suggestion is to be consistent – particularly in the way you manage your brand voice. Consistent language gives your customers something to latch onto and will become familiar in a marketplace that’s ever changing. Inconsistency does the exact opposite, which deters customers and makes them feel uneasy.

Stop Being Average

Customers have more options than ever. How will you deal with this? You can be average, or you can shoot for a unique brand image that reflects the desires of the marketplace.

Average is safe. You might even be able to sustain nominal success for a period of time. But average won’t get you very far in a crowded industry. You have to push for more. Are you willing to put in the work to rise above and command attention?

About the writer: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter  @LarryAlton3 and on LinkedIn.

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