Identifying the opportunities for differentiation is essential in creating a brand that is distinct and stands out from the competition. Where are the holes in the market? What are the areas of opportunity for positioning the company visually and tonally? Understanding these questions ensures we’re helping our clients reflect their perspective and approach in a way that is actually unique or demonstrably different.
Working with a client on a new brand or brand refresh, this process of learning about the company, the marketplace and competitive set is crucial to the success of the project and for the long-term prospects of the brand.
We begin this discovery process with a review of the client’s industry benchmarks from a business and messaging perspective – standard elements – but we also include the visual component as well. This allows us to see where the holes in market are and what areas are heavily trafficked, ensuring our explorations are working to maximize opportunities for differentiation. It’s also critical for overall project efficiency, helping us avoid creative churn by identifying industry tropes to steer clear of at the outset.
After conducting a review of the marketplace, our team begins the mood boarding process. Mood boards are a tool for evaluating visual and tonal directions for a brand or project that allow us to align on an overall style and direction with clients before we begin design work.
This is immensely important, and runs counter to how many agencies approach the design and concepting process. Typically, the first time clients are looking at designs is the first concept review – after a lengthy, and costly, period of design. With mood boards, we can quickly identify, discuss and eliminate possible design directions with minimal investment of time. Make the small decisions up front, so the big decisions later are incremental and easy.
Each mood board is designed to be a unique perspective and position in the industry. In looking at Guidepoint’s competitors, we realized that color and type would be easy wins. With most of the market using red and sans serif fonts, we quickly identified an opportunity to stand out using different colors and a serif font.
With Ryft, the competition was every color of the rainbow, with flat color blocks and even flatter iconography. We knew we had an opportunity to add depth and dimension to stand out. The Ryft team selected the photorealistic black and white board, which was a truly unique direction for the company and helps them stand out in the space.
The goal of any branding project is to demonstrate to the world why you’re different and why you’re the better, or best, choice. But, no matter what the tangible differences may be, if your brand flies too close to the competition, you’re just another member of the pack. With so much parity among competitors, you need a solid understanding of what your differentiators are and how to ensure you’re positioning yourself to showcase those differences and benefits.