Recently, I was chatting with two different copywriters on the same day.

They had just written up the content for some new websites they were working on. After skimming it, I had one question for them:

“What makes these brands unique?”

…crickets.

They both left me scratching my head. Neither of them knew.

I couldn’t understand it. They’d just spent hours reviewing templates and writing paragraphs, and writing and writing.

How could they not know?

This confirmed for me something I absolutely believe: if you’re a small business, and you’re hiring anyone in marketing – a designer, a copywriter, an SEO specialist, a web designer, anything – they should be able to tell you what makes you unique.

How are you going to improve revenue and inspire people if you’re not a clear and obvious choice?

Today, with a billion brands popping up and bursting and rebranding, all the hard work in crafting a lasting brand is in this area. What makes you unique?

  • If you hire a copywriter, they should be able to come back to you and say: “You’re now able to stand out from your competition because of these top 3 reasons. Or this key differentiator.”
  • If you hire a designer, they should be able to demonstrate: this is how you look visually different from your competition. The difference should be enough to see you clearly in a lineup.
  • If you hire a marketer, they must be able to tell you what it is about you that inspires people to buy from you.

At at any point they can’t, then you’ve hired the wrong person.

They are most likely taking your money to push you through a process.

They aren’t seriously partnering with you to make you more memorable, and more unique.

That’s what you’re paying them for, right? You can’t afford any less.

For 2 years, I worked with a small team that branded and build websites for home services in rural Virginia. It became my personal challenge with every client to understand what it was that made them special.

  • For some, it was by going hard after  certain niche, or supporting a specific kind of situation.
  • For others, it was digging into their backstory and values to demonstrate how it inspires their service experience.
  • And for the rest, it was simply a matter of being clearer and more accessible than others.

Usually, my goal was to try and hit all three.

And usually, the client had never needed to think about it. Back when they’d started up, they competed with perhaps two other brands.

Today, franchises and startups are bubbling up everywhere, crowding out advertisement and begging for headspace.

To build a rock-solid brand, one that stands the test of time, sticks in the right people’s minds, and inspires them to come back, you can’t settle for blah.

You can’t settle for just more.

You can’t settle for just a shade better.

You have to go for as much gold as you can. Raise the bar. Even better: redefine it.

That’s what I love to do; through your values and your brand, show people that any other brand after  you is a step down.

So for now, take a step back from trying to get on the first page of Google.

Get your team and your clients on the same page, and turn a new leaf.

So go ask whoever you’re hiring. Can they tell you exactly how they’re helping you stand out? Is it working?

Dominic de Souza

Storyteller, Marketer

Born in New Zealand, raised in Australia, studied in Fiji and France, now living in the United States. After writing my first novel at 13, I spent 15 years in marketing and design. Today, I help wildly-passionate small businesses clarify their story to spellbind audiences.  Sign up for my weekly digest!