I’ve always had a penchant for independent thinkers and doers. I learn from them. I support them, and I try to emulate them. And I encourage my clients to do the same. Whether you are a real estate agent, a manufacturer, an insurance agent, a sole proprietor or a manager of a team within a large organization, flexing your independent muscle can be good for your brand’s soul.
Too many brands still look to their immediate rights and lefts and offer something to their customers that looks slightly “in between” what the competitive playing field already offers. In my strategic work with clients, I encourage brands to look up and outside of their industries to see what they can learn and apply from other fields. From companies as varied as the Sundance Film Festival to micro-lender Kiva to independent record labels to the hundreds of moms and pops in every category imaginable (electricians, churches, hair salons, farmer’s markets), I’ve observed that brands that wave their own flags of independence have the courage to do three things differently. They go against the industry grain, maintain a laser-like focus and strategically engage the customer in all they all do.
Deb Downing is the creator and manufacturer of gourmet specialty food company Gotta’ Love It Inc. Downing’s passion for connecting customers with her products is contagious and what sets her apart from others in another saturated product category.
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at email@example.com.