Originally shared in February 2014, this post was updated in October 2020.
So many people, so few archetypes.
One of the questions I’m asked most often is: How can I stand out from my competition if we’re in the same niche and we’re the same archetype?
There are literally tens of thousands of competitors out there and just one, single you. Jungian theory tells us that there are only 12 archetypal personas. Logic tells us, there’s going to be overlap, and lots of it.
Here’s how to set yourself apart from your competition once and for all.
1. Be fully authentic
Pretty logical advice, and some that you’ve probably heard a million times over, but it works. Here’s why:
Right now there are over 7.5 billion people roaming the Earth and no two of them are the same. None. That’s pretty mind blowing, actually.
The human persona, just like the brand persona, is a unique and custom blend of attributes, expertise, and experiences. No two will have the same collection of gifts, talents, training, or mentors. No two will have the same learning experiences, successes, or setbacks. And no two will have the same experiences with customers or in the marketplace.
This is where the dreaded copycats get tripped up. Sure it’s easier to look at what someone else is doing and then try to tweak it and make it ‘your own’. What they don’t understand though, is that more often than not they come off looking phony and contrived, and not just because they are.
Ask a classroom full of students to write down their individual takeaways from a lecture and you’ll have as many varied responses as you have students. Some will have similar takeaways and others will have gleaned something completely different altogether. How is this possible when the lecture was the exact same for all? Because their experiences and expertise levels prompted them to listen for what best applies to them. They’re conditioned to unconsciously pull from a teaching what they need. And so while some of the answers may sound similar, none will be replicated.
Even if you have the same attributes, you will express them differently throughout your brand and offerings. From intensity to depth the spectrum is wide.
It’s literally impossible for any two people, or any two brands, to be the same. And so if you want to stand out, look for your point of difference.
2. Find your point of difference
A point of difference is exactly what it sounds like; It’s what sets you apart from others in your marketplace. It may be price, customer service, a methodology, viewpoint, or any combination of these or other factors.
To find your point of difference ask yourself why people choose you. With all the competition out there, what brings people to you when they have a goal, need, or want to fill?
There’s something that draws them to you, so what is it? Is it a unique product, service, your experience, reputation, pricing, location, a positive past experience, or maybe your position in the market? Most likely, chances are it’s a combination of these.
What do people say when they’re recommending you to others? What do they thank you for after a purchase? What are you complimented for regularly? These are good prompts to get the wheels turning. If you still aren’t sure, consider putting out a survey or simply asking people for either a testimonial or what brought them to your brand.
3. Make use of your secondary archetype
Nothing is ever truly textbook, that goes for people and brands as well. It’s very rare for a brand to fit neatly within the realm of an archetypal persona, and they shouldn’t try. Namely because a lot of the attributes are subjective and are almost always open to interpretation.
Weave them into your brand story. Use their individual quirks to differentiate yourself, your offerings, and your brand. If you aren’t sure what your secondary archetype is, you can find your top three right here (including detailed descriptions), absolutely free.
4. Tell your story
We’ve all got a story, and no two are alike. Start by defining your story, that is, who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Then, weave it into a compelling tale that draws your right people to you. One of the best ways to do this is through your unique brand voice, that is through your special brand of prose, style, and phraseology. Need help? You got it.
5. Know your role
No matter who you are or what you do, you aren’t competing with everyone in your profession – not even close. A food photographer, for example, poses little risk to a landscape or a wedding photographer. So know your arena, and then own it.
Understanding the value you bring to your proverbial neck of the woods and who your right people are will help you better hone your story elements and sharpen your brand voice. Define your own niche in the marketplace and point your branding efforts at connecting with and appealing to that contingent.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to start.
What struggles do you face when trying to set yourself apart? I’m happy to speak with you personally to try to hash out any struggles you’re facing.
I’m a Brand Therapist® providing psychology-based branding, copywriting, and consulting to individuals and micro-businesses in the creative arena. My signature services will help you discover and articulate your most authentic self so you can tell better stories, make more meaningful connections, and do more profound work.