Can You Really Let Go to Be Different?

Different by Youngme Moon is one of the best branding books I’ve ever read. But I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, and here’s why: because if you really want to apply the lessons of this book to your business, you have to transform your business. And that means you have to be willing to let go.


That has been my biggest lesson in 11 years of business as a marketing coach and consultant: most businesses don’t want to let go so that they can be something different. And I throw myself into that heap of entrepreneurs who really believe they want to change, but just can’t turn loose of their current identity..

It’s exciting to think about transforming a business, and it’s so much fun to plan it. But it’s the implementation phase that gets in the way. To have a free hand to pull the trigger on a new idea, you have to release the old one. And those old ideas just seem to stick to your hands (really your heart).

How to Differentiate

Moon’s book is built on this premise: The ability to compete is based the ability to differentiate. Differentiating an existing business means transforming it, and that means letting go.

Is Different the book for you? I’ll let you decide. Below I share 11 quotes, takeaways and lessons from the book. If, after reading, you think you might want to let go, enjoy the book.

Take-away: Once you consider yourself to be part of an industry, or to have competition, you will lose your opportunity for differentiation.

Quote: “True differentiation is rarely a function of well-roundedness, it is typically a function of lop-sidedness.”

Lesson: Product augmentation leads to commoditization.

Quote: “You could …boil down the entire function of marketing to this – the process by which businesses try to make us picky about what we consume”

Eye Opener: True differentiation is a place where customer expectations are irrelevant, and a business resounds in an unanticipated way.

Take-Away: When consumers are drowning in choices, they feel liberated when someone takes them away.

Lesson: Breakaway brands birth an entirely new sub-category that alters the complexion of an industry.

Heresy: Differentiated brands are sometimes hostile brands. They are not afraid to declare: “This is who the brand is NOT for!”

Lesson: Look at industry norms and choose to be different than those norms. Create different norms.

Quote: “We cannot expect (customers) to tell us how it might be possible to surprise them.”

Big Idea: Differentiated brands… 1) Offer something that is hard to come by, 2) Reflect a commitment to a big idea, 3) Are intensely human.

Buy the book from Amazon here: Different by Youngme Moon

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