In our personal lives, we know that we cannot be all things to all people.

For whatever reason, when many of us start a business, we grapple with meeting customer demands by molding ourselves to THEM instead of what makes us truly exceptional.

Today, Seth Godin’s blog showed up in my inbox, and it reminded me that if you don’t genuinely know your key differentiation and core values, you’ll produce a lot of BLAH products and services. I know a client hasn’t nailed down their brand differentiation when I hear that their target audience is 18-99.

“It might not be for you” by Seth Godin

If you walk into a noisy bar and ask why they don’t have Chopin on the jukebox, they’re unlikely to accommodate you.

The same is true if you go to a BBQ joint and insist on sushi.

Most of the brands we truly care about stand for something. And the thing they stand for is unlikely to be, “whatever you want, we have it.” It’s also unlikely to be, “you can choose anyone and we’re anyone.”

A meaningful specific can’t possibly please everyone. That’s the deal.

If you own a business, you should be able to answer the question of “what makes you unique” with strength and clarity. Your brand differentiation is your guiding force for the expansion of products and services. It will tell you what falls in line with who you are and what does not. It will predict what products or services your existing loyal customers might want from you.

One fundamental way to increase revenue is to sell more to existing customers, and another is to create a new product. When those decisions are guided by your brand differentiation, you have a chance for greater success.

For example, the brand that makes vegan leather handbags has clear differentiation within their industry; the leather is VEGAN. The vegan leather handbag brand knows its existing customers prefer vegan leather and has the opportunity to sell them additional vegan leather products as a way to expand the brand and increase revenue.

Customer loyalty is built within the realms of your brand differentiation and customer service. Heck, sometimes, your brand differentiation within your industry IS your customer service (think GoDaddy 24/7 Support).

Several years ago, I learned an easy way to tell if a restaurant uses fresh or frozen foods, look at the size of their menu. The more extensive the list, the chances are, the worse the food will be. The same is true for brands. To try and make money or appease customers, we PILE on the products and services that deliver little exceptionalism. Inevitably, these efforts do not have a lasting positive impact on the brand.

Stay true to you, and you’ll find success.