The Problem with Standing Out

by Dale





People like me are always urging you to differentiate from your competition. So, why is it so hard to do?

I think it starts with a belief learned early in life -the one that we have learned over time –  it feels safer to go with the group- don’t rock the boat. Look at any field and you will see pack mentality in the way companies in any vertical express themselves. It’s safe AND it’s boring. Worse, when everyone looks the same and too safe no one remembers anything.

As Americans we say we value individuality, but when it comes to being really different and putting ourselves out in the world in a way that is really different, we pull back.

It’s important to ask ourselves why we do this since this is the platform that all companies who have experienced extreme success use. Southwest Airlines, Coke, Zappos, etc. the list is too long to list.

We’re not in seventh grade anymore and yet when we are given the option we act like we are.

Here’s a personal example:

I was at a meeting several months ago and someone noticed my name and asked me why I didn’t call my company Power Marketing. I don’t think my reply was that diplomatic. I said: “Because it would be too boring.”

Big Shoes has a story with it and also isn’t the same as every other consultant on the block. It has play to it so if people think I have a shoe company I can say – “The shoes are for stepping into – I don’t have any to sell.”  They may not remember everything but they always remember it has something to do with feet- another opportunity for humor and reminding them of what I am about.

Your brand should help you stand out, create curiosity if possible, and imprint memory. You marketing tools support that in the colors you use, the weight of your business card, and the quality of the content and services you offer. There are many ways to step out of your box and look brilliantly different. Maybe it’s time to start thinking that way….

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina Talucci June 13, 2014 at 9:39 am

Thanks, for the reminder to stand out. I only bill for mental health so I would stand out especially with large billing companies. Whenever I network I am frequently told I should take other disciplines so it is easier for people to refer people to me. I do only mental health billing for all sorts of reason but most especially because there is a need with small practices needing help and it is hard to find.


Dale June 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

By staying in your vertical you give people an easy way to remember what you do. Stick with it. The more specific you are, the better you will be remembered. You are an expert in your field. Hooray for you taking this stand for yourself.


Renata June 13, 2014 at 11:54 am

Great post! Enjoyed the personal story of why you picked Big Shoes as your brand name. Strategic imagination works well with the image of walking in those Big Shoes.

I took a similar path with OWLS (it’s not about the birds) which does create conversation with clients. It is interesting that the owls (the birds) do not have any natural predators; they are the top of their food chain. They use all their natural talents and skills to their own advantage. It’s a relevant image for OWLS for Science as Public Relations firm.

The challenge of standing out from the crowd is having the confidence that you have made the right decisions based on the relevant assumptions. It may take a while for enough people to see that the uniqueness you offer is to their advantage. Success, even small wins, keep those of us who are standing out to not feel the urge to run back to the overcrowded common places just for safety.

Your post makes for thoughtful reflection and discussion. Nice!


Dale June 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

I am so delighted to hear the story of OWLS – having a way to cause curiosity and conversation is a winner! Loving what you stand for instead of taking the easier path of being like everyone else.
You definitely stand out not only in name but experience as well!
Thanks for sharing.


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