Are you innovating distinction into your company?

Too often businesses believe just having a distinctive image in their visual presence is enough to set them apart. While visual branding can certainly help a business stand out from its competitors on a first-impression basis, if there are no further distinguishing qualities differentiating what is being offered, then the prospect can be lost as quickly as he or she was initially impressed.


In other cases, businesses actually have intellectual property, and are not effectively presenting and promoting it, or worse yet, the business owner or management doesn’t even recognize it as being unique to their business. 


1. Your Story: Is there a powerful or intriguing story behind your business’ name, logo, symbols, icons, positioning, mission or the way in which it has evolved? Businesses with a compelling story to tell have a story that is deemed worth sharing by others to others. And if it is compelling enough, it is a story that can live well beyond what you could have imagined in the value and advantage it brings to your business. 


2. Your Approach: Have you determined a way of working with your customers, vendors, or employees or an approach to business in general that is an area of distinction? Have you documented and given it a specific name to further distinguish and highlight it compared to others?  


3. Your Expertise:  Have you improved or solved a specific problem through the redesign or re-engineering of a particular product your company offers? Is it patentable and have you sought patent protection? Could your expertise be downloaded out of your head and packaged into a product or program that could serve a market who would not otherwise engage your business, but who would value and appreciate tapping into your wealth of knowledge in a do-it-yourself option? Could this program or product help you enable others to share in delivering this expertise, expanding your capacity and ability to serve more customers?


4. Your Systems: Business owners seeking to build a business that can operate without them understand the importance and value of having systems in place. How are you promoting these systems as a differentiating efficiency advantage in the marketplace? Could some of these systems also be branded operationally for replicable advantage into potential licensing or franchising? 


5. Your Processes: Have you determined a particular process in the way you develop or deliver your service or products that distinguishes you?  Is this unique process at the forefront of how you are separating your offering from competitor offerings? Are you speaking in terms of true benefit to your target market?


All of the above areas could result in intellectual property for your business, including protecting them through copyrights, trademarks, service marks and patents. Think back to the reason you are in business for yourself to begin with and are passionate about what you do. Most likely, it is because you saw that something could be made better, done better, provided better or differently. Then leverage this passion around being different for bottom-line value to your business.

Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.