Here we go.
How often does a consultant come in and force you to sit down and answer the infamous question “so what makes you unique?”
<answer: every frickin’ time>
Oh, how I get tired of this unique or ‘how are you different?’ discussion.
If you have been there, you have seen these conversations go round and round dancing on the head of a pin.
Invariably you land on one meaningless thing (to the majority of the world if not the majority of your own employees) or you have a laundry list that the consultant writes on a board and says “okay. Great day. You need to figure out which of these is most important to you.”
Note to self:
“gee. thanks. what makes you think we can resolve that 48 hours from now if we cannot now?”
I believe distinctness is the key not uniqueness.
Am I suggesting avoiding true product or service differentiation? Heck no.
Go for it.
I am simply arguing that it is next to impossible in today’s environment to have one. Ok. A sustainable one. I believe the cellular category right now has been doing a pretty good job of highlighting “unique” features (and sometimes benefits). But most of them are short term and not sustainable (and they have lots of money to make short term look big).
In service categories sustainable “uniqueness” is … well … pretty much impossible. Unique is very subjective here.
Thinking customer first or “we care” is certainly not unique nor different. That characteristic may represent something the company cares a lot about but most companies to one degree or another feature that characteristic.
In the end that means we are often talking about small degrees of separation which makes it difficult to discern the difference to the majority. And the amount of energy we expend trying to justify and explain that this incredibly small difference translates into a significantly larger benefit just isn’t worth the return on that investment (because that small degree of separation is lost to a competitor responder or thru consumer confusion on internet).
What is sustainable? Character and personality.
That is certainly distinct.
Could it end up looking close to someone else? Maybe (but I would argue 90% of the time the other guy will blink and do something that will make people question their character).
Brand personality/character differentiation topic is another writing of mine.
This one is just a rant on uniqueness.