It’s important to look like you belong. But, it’s more important to promote your uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity are partly about differentiation.

Early adopters help define markets. But, they don’t always get things right. Learn from both their successes and shortcomings to uncover ways to distinguish your business from them. Make it a point to avoid the trappings of sameness that comes from emulating others.

Brand building is about creating a frame of mind that nobody owns but you.

As Howard Kosgrove, vice principal of marketing at Lindsay, Stone and Briggs Advertising in Madison, WI, put it, “A brand is the one thing that you can own that nobody can take away from you. Everything else, they can steal. They can steal your trade secrets. Eventually, your patents will expire. Your physical plant will wear out. Technology will change. But your brand can go on and live. It creates a lasting value above and beyond all the other elements of your business.”

Never lose sight of what makes you great, why you do things differently and why it matters to your audience.

Reinforce it with an identity that connects and a message that resonates. Instead of joining the conversation, control the dialogue.

You cannot get there by following others.

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