Stand Out From The Crowd? by Rich

Is standing out from the crowd, being different or unique, a thing?  I mean is this something you should strive for in your marketing?

I’ve written before that one should be different, but not too different. But really, WHY be different?

People often want to present a unique perspective in their marketing.

And you know, it isn’t a bad idea. And yes, it can be overdone. But let’s understand why it might be a good idea.


The first thing marketing has to do, is get noticed.

I think you’ll agree, if no one notices you’re communicating, your marketing will have no effect. Like the little boy crying in his crib while his parents play music loudly in the living room, it is a waste of lung power.

I’ve mentioned this often enough in regard to repetition.

Repetition is usually necessary to get noticed.

But, besides repetition, there are two ways that being different can contribute to being noticed.


Scientists who like to speculate about the future of the universe have a scenario of the possible end of time. As a result of something called entropy, all differences in the universe disappear over a long enough amount of time. The result has been called “gray goo.” Nothing is noticeable because it is all the same.

Well, you can get a kind of gray goo of marketing in an industry where everyone imitates everyone else. You got this effect in law firm websites. A company out in Los Angeles became the 600-pound gorilla of law firm website developers.  Well, all their websites looked the same, and because they were so dominant, others imitated that style.

You know the look. Attorney, looking tough and competent, standing on the steps of the courthouse. Minor variations, but that became “the” attorney website look.

Some years ago, I met with an attorney trying to dominate online in his local area. I had him do a Google search on a key phrase, then go to the home pages of the first ten results.

Then I asked him to tell me anything particular he noticed about any of these ten websites.

He couldn’t, because they all basically looked the same.

If someone can’t remember your website or marketing as opposed to any of your competitors, that is not going to do you a lot of good. It can even benefit a competitor. They see your website or digital ads and it just reinforces the presence of your larger competitor. So they get more calls. “Oh yeah, I saw their ad last week.”  Only it was yours.


The other reason is to get noticed at all. We’re not talking repetition or competition. If every ad sounds the same, looks the same – uses the same words – now you really get the gray goo effect. Your marketing communication just doesn’t break through to the level of being noticed.


There are a lot of ways to be different. Color scheme is a good one. If we are doing rack cards – the advertising cards for tourist attractions you find in hotel lobbies – we survey the main colors being used by the other cards. If everyone is doing red, we do blue or yellow. Your card will get noticed all out of proportion to the one card in 50 it is.

Another fruitful area for differentiation is slogans or taglines. Most slogans fail through sheer boredom.

Slogans can fail for just being too common, even to the point of multiple companies in an industry using the same or very similar slogans.  Now which company uses “Best service” or are they the ones that promise “first-rate service?”  Wake me up when the commercial is over.


I’m not going to beat the dead horse on not being too different. For one thing, the error is usually not being different enough.

People get all shy and nervous and don’t want to be too wild. 99% of the time people aren’t different or dramatic enough.

You are, after all, trying to get noticed.

Amazon, from the start, ran on the “world’s largest bookstore.”  I don’t know if it was ever even true, but no one else was claiming it.

Dramatic. Different. Memorable.

You could do worse in your marketing.

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