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Marketing 360® Blog

How To Turn Branding Into a Competitive Advantage

Post By Jason Atkins | Design & Branding

One of the main goals of brand messaging is to be memorable, and to be memorable you need to be unique. Here are some ideas and examples on how to turn your brand message into a competitive advantage.

Driving back to the office after an early lunch, I saw a guy walking his dog. An ordinary thing to see, except this guy was anything but ordinary.

He was shirtless and wearing a pair of electric, lime green running shorts. The dog (less enthusiastically, I thought) sported a pink doggy tutu. As he walked, he brought his arms over his head and back to his side like a giant duck flapping its wings.

I thought to myself, this dude really has the guts to live his own life. He could care less about how bizarre people thought he looked, only that his noontime exercise worked for him.

In today’s online marketing world, we are consumed with gaining conversions, ranking at the top of the search, and maintaining a positive reputation. While all of those things are vital, you also have to explore what’s unique about your business.

Creating an original, unique message is often the only way get people’s attention and make a memorable impression, which is a major advantage in competitive markets.

You’re Not In Lost Springs

There is a little town in Wyoming called Lost Springs. The population is four brave souls scraping to survive out on the windswept prairie.

lost springs

Lost Springs has a post office and a restaurant/bar called the Lost Bar. The restaurant has never done any advertising or marketing in its long history but it still thrives.

The Lost Springs area is located in prime pronghorn and pheasant hunting habitat and every fall hunters descend on the bar for good food and merriment.

The Lost Bar has the market cornered. They stand out because they stand alone.

But you don’t. You have competition. Like it or not, you have to flap your wings.  

Black Rifle Coffee Company

Coffee is traditionally marketed with images of calm mornings and serene moments. But Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC) has a unique way to market their coffee. They’re are all about coffee, guns, and military culture.

The name alone should be an indication of the worldview of the company. Unapologetically pro-gun, they turned a relatively vanilla industry into a celebration of testosterone, complete with explosions and bad-boy imagery. 

Their brand message resonates with their customers, giving an outlet for their particular culture. Marketing is one thing, but many of the BRCC staff have served as active-duty military members and they have made that a cornerstone of their audience.

Taking a unique stance that appeals to a segment of the market turned BRCC from a cult company into mainstream success. There will still be those that disagree with the company that wears its politics on its sleeve, but they counter that with a strong band of supporters.

Liquid Death Mountain Water      

Liquid Death is not what would ordinarily come to mind when brainstorming a name for mountain spring water, fortunately it did for this company.

What probably started out as a joke turned into a viable business. Much like Black Rifle Coffee challenged the coffee industry, Liquid Death set out to destroy the marketing status quo of bottled water.

The best part? They know they are ridiculous.  Part of their value proposition is to “decapitate your thirst”.

liquid death water

The company decided that most of the products that relied on “fun” marketing were primarily unhealthy. Liquid Death throws that notion into the wood chipper, eschewing the idea that all health related brands have to feature models and celebrities.

In their words, they “strive to be unnecessary in everything we do.” It’s a risky marketing strategy that works in their favor. 

To Compete, Stand Out

Both of these companies realize that to capitalize on mundane products and stand out in an oversaturated market, they must be bold.

Each has their gallery of antagonists – by design. These brands are meant to be divisive and unapologetically steeped in the culture of their target audience. That gives them the freedom to take risks with their marketing message and stand out with memorable advertising.

In fact, their branding is so appealing that they’re able to carry large inventories of merchandise. Both sites focus on selling t-shirts, hats, and cups as much as their main products.

Their branding is their competitive advantage. They realize they’re not a bar in a town with only one bar.

Remember that guy running along in the lime green shorts? That fella is doing his own type of personal brand marketing. He is throwing his unique visual perspective out there on big ol’ flapping arms, lime-green short-shorts, and pink doggy tutus.

I probably saw a hundred other people that day, but he’s the one I remember.

That’s a big win in crowded, competitive markets.

marketing dog