This year’s most valuable skill? Branding.

Businesses face more competition than ever. Companies must learn how to brand to best differentiate themselves.


January 23, 2021

Businesses today face more competition than ever. Five years ago, the typical business had just 2.6 competitors. Today? That number has almost quadrupled, to 9.7.

AWS, Shopify, and no-code significantly lowered the barrier to entry, which shifted the risk from, “Can I build this?” to “Will anyone care?”

How do you compete?

Brand is the key to unlocking a cult-like following. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re building one:

  • Tell a story. Drift’s brand narrative has been passed around every B2B marketing team and helped them nab $114m in funding. Just remember that the main character in the story is your customer, not your product.
  • Stand for something. Brand is not throwing a product on pastel backgrounds with sans serif font. You must stand for something meaningful: “Think different” (Apple), “Real beauty” (Dove), “Arm the rebels” (Shopify). These brands have manifestoes that don’t accommodate indifference — you’re either in or out.
  • Show how. Finish this sentence: “The best electric car is [blank].” Most of us aren’t thinking Nissan Leaf. Tesla offers a more compelling path to reduce oil dependence. Your dominant selling idea needs to be important, believable, and memorable to your market.
  • Pick a fight. Without conflict, there’s no story. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s contrarian views helped build a $25m Basecamp business. Last year they picked a fight with Apple over fees during the launch of Hey, their new email product. Apple eventually approved the app… but not before the internet heard about Hey.

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