Different Is Better Than Better
Why being different trumps being better in new product development
Let’s talk about why this idea popularized by branding expert Sally Hogshead is crucial for successful new product development.
As entrepreneurs, we are often focused on making our products better than the competition. We want to offer more features, better quality, and better performance. But the truth is, being better doesn’t always matter that much. In a crowded market, claiming to be being “better” usually makes you sound just like everyone else. And when you sound like everyone else, you become invisible.
"When you sound like everyone else, you become invisible."
How To Stand Out
To stand out in a crowded market, you need to be different. You need to offer something that no one else is offering. Something unique and compelling. Something that captures the attention and imagination of your target audience.
Now, you might be thinking, "But Josh, isn't being different risky? What if people don't like it?"
Yes, being different is risky. But not being different is even riskier. If you're not different, you're just another me-too product in a sea of me-too products. You're competing on incremental improvements that usually increase the cost of your product more than the value of the pain you are solving.
How To Differentiate Your Product
So how do you create a different product? It starts with understanding your audience. What do they want and need? What are their pain points and challenges? What are their hopes and dreams? Once you have a deep understanding of your audience, you can start to think creatively about how to meet their needs in a way that no one else is.
Here are a few examples of companies that have successfully created different products:
Dollar Shave Club: Rather than compete with established razor brands on the number of blades you could cram into a razor, they created a totally unique brand personality and humorous marketing that resonated with their target audience.
Tesla: Rather than compete with other car companies on gas mileage or horsepower, Tesla differentiated itself with electric cars that were sleek, fast, and environmentally friendly.
Warby Parker: Rather than compete with other eyewear companies for space in optometry offices, Warby Parker sold glasses online. They made it easy for customers with their "try before you buy" program.
These companies didn't just try to be better than the competition. They built a unique value proposition that resonated with their target audience and made them stand out in a crowded market.
Don't Be Better, Be The Opposite
So if you're working on a new product, remember: Different is better than better. Focus on creating something that no one else is offering. Look at the standard practices in your industry and find a way to do the opposite. You can differentiate on your key feature set like Tesla, your brand personality like Dollar Shave Club, or your distribution model like Warby Parker.
It's not easy, but it's worth it. When you create a different product, you're not just building a business. You're building a brand. You're building something that people will talk about and remember. You're building something that has the potential to change your industry.