…just like everyone else.

We tend to travel in packs, copying what each other are doing hoping that someone will think we are different or we are special…that we are unique from our competition.

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That doesn’t make you stand out. In fact, that makes you blend in and to be frank, forgettable.

Your market isn’t stupid, they’re on to you and frustrated that you look and sound just like everyone else. They are left wondering, “If you are so different why can’t I tell the difference?”

To stand out you need to take a stand.

Price, quality and customer service don’t matter because they are expected. Location may, and your employees? Most of your people actually don’t matter either…at least not in the way you are thinking. Your employees only become important to your customers when they provide value beyond what is expected.

So what’s left? How do you stand out and get the market and your customers to remember you? How do you become the preferred brand in your market? There is a lot of buzz today about ethics.

According to Mintel, half of Americans believe that “ethical” products and practices are just a play to manipulate customers.

What is the reason that customers should buy from you? Why should they choose your brand? This becomes the foundation of the actions that your company takes and the core of your communications—from social media to how you hire your next employee.

Consumers expect companies to act in an ethical way, so donating to nonprofits or participating in community projects doesn’t work either.

What is your purpose?

Before you answer that question, take a look at your company’s mission and vision statements. Are they still relevant in today’s market? How are they culturally relevant? Answering those questions will help you bridge the gap between what your customer is focusing on and what you want to talk about. Consumers today won’t blindly believe a press release.

Apple did this with the iPhone. The market demand for mobile-driven technology was growing, as was the frustration with how unnecessarily complicated it was to use it. Chipotle did it with the demand for local fresh food, fast.

Remember that country song by Aaron Tippin, You’ve Got to Stand for Something? Your company needs to stand for something and not just jumping on the latest trend which can backfire and make you look inauthentic. You also want to make sure that what you decide to embrace is scalable over time and is truly valued within your company.

Remember, people may say and think they are making a rational-logic based decision, but in reality becoming that preferred brand is about being able to emotionally connect with your customers and build loyalty.

In today’s market it is better to build a brand for 100 people who love it than it is to build one for a million that only kind of like it. By staying relevant, building an active community and providing that personalized connection that people are craving you can build a brand that stands out.

Remember that community includes your employees. How much your customers like doing business with you is strongly tied to how much your employees like working for you. This means that your brand resides and lives in their hands. They are the ones that make it come alive and allow your customers to emotionally connect and build that brand that stands out.