September 30, 2022

4 Crucial Steps to Building A Brand That Sets You Apart (Lessons from Tesla, Dominos, and M&Ms)

The art of ‘Building A Brand’ is really a step-by-step process and we'll walk you through it.

Hot Take: People are loyal to brands and relationships, not businesses or corporations.

And because of that, brands are the best defense against commoditization.

But what do all those industry buzzwords actually mean?

Let’s take the example of cars and play a game of word association.

When you think of Volvo, what is the first word that comes to mind? Safety.

How about Porsche? Fast.

Ferrari? Rich.

Toyota? Reliable.

Tesla? The future.

Now, what do you think about Chevrolet? Does anything come to mind?

Probably not.

That right there is the difference between a commodity and a brand. Chevrolet has become a commodity. Interchangeable with the other 40+ car companies in America. Tesla, on the other hand, is a brand. They set themselves as the ‘future’ in a 100+ year old industry and have become a dominant player.

It’s not just cars - it’s restaurants, clothing, technology. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, your business IS going to need branding to succeed.

In this article, we’re going to give you a step-by-step plan on what it takes to build a memorable brand and how to get started.

What Does it Take to Build a Memorable Brand?  

We live in a world where the cost to start a company has become almost negligible.

Software is cheap. Investment money is flowing. And with that, almost every market is crowded. And when a market gets crowded, often, you’re fighting to be heard.

Building a memorable brand is about being heard. Because if you’re not unique, then you’re a me-too company.

The following are essentials when it comes to building a memorable brand:

Step 1: Understanding what makes you different or at least, unique. The anti-commodity.

Step 2: Telling stories, not blasting features. People don’t care about what you do. They care about what you can do for them (benefits).

Step 3: Back up the talk with the walk, everywhere. Build credibility & evidence wherever you can. Show everyone your work.

Step 4: Integrate it across every element of your presence.

But enough talking, let’s do some show and tell.

Step 1: What makes you different? How do you become the anti-commodity?

What does a business look like without a Unique Selling Proposition?

You’re one of a million me-too businesses. There’s no reason why someone should buy from you versus the other 15 options. And usually, this means they’re buying on price (cheapest option wins and business churn is sky high)

Your USP is the anchor that moors your brand.

Here are a few examples of industry-defining USPs:

  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
  • M&Ms: “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • Dominoes: “Delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less - or it’s free”

These USPs took each of these companies to the pinnacle of their industries. Industries that are FILLED with me-too companies.

M&Ms aren’t competing with luxury chocolate brand. They are easy to eat and convenient.

Dominoes isn’t the best pizza in America, but it IS the fastest.

FedEx doesn’t have the infrastructure or pricing that USPS or UPS does, but when you’ve been procrastinating and need something shipped, you know where to go.

Okay, but how do you build your own?

  1. Focus on the need or problem you’re trying to solve for the customer. Not what you do (features) but what they get (benefits).
  2. Actually, make it unique. You can’t have a similar USP to 5 other competitors. People need a reason to choose you above the competition. Do the research to find out what the usual feature/benefits are in the industry.
  3. Be specific. The more specific you are, the easier it is to be unique. It also helps make it easier to back up your claim.
  4. Keep it short, simple, and clear.

Now, you have an idea of what a USP is, what good ones look like, and the steps to begin building one. But how do you get started with benefits?

Step 2: Taking Your Features and Finding Your Benefits / Stories

People don’t care what you do. They care about what you can do for them.

No one cares how many pixels an iPhone’s camera has. They care if they can take amazing photography without having to try too hard.

So, how does a company go about telling stories that people want to hear?

Four-step process:

  • Switch places
  • Identify features
  • Identify advantages
  • Translate advantages into benefits

Switch Places

Who’s the buyer? Bargain Hunter or Whole Foods shopper? Student or Single Mom?

What do they want? What do they fear? What problem do they need solved?

Answer them and put them front and center before writing or making any brand material.

Example: Corvette vs Volvo

Both are cars.

A Corvette buyer is a risk-taker, self-employed, independent, outspoken, and assertive.

A Volvo buyer is more concerned with family and safety. Probably conservative, analytical, and family-oriented.

If you noticed, we’re less concerned about demographics as much as we are about psychographics.

What do they think about? Where do they spend their time? How do they see themselves?

You need to do the research and find out WHO you’re telling your story to.

Isolate Your Features

For us for example:

  • Brand Design
  • Website Design
  • Graphic Design

Identify Advantages

These features are great, but what makes them so great? What advantages do they offer our client?

How do my features lead to a specific result?

Build brand identities  that make you instantly recognizable in your space.
Build websites that tell your story and actually convert customers.
Design marketing material that stands out amongst the thousands of pieces of content going out every day.

Converting Advantages Into Specific Narratives or Results

Getting from features to advantages is the first step. The next one is to take those advantages and make them into stories that potential customers can tell themselves. In other words, narratives.

Continuing on our example, here’s a narrative for a client that combines all of our advantages:

We’ll help you take your startup from idea all the way to launch.

  1. Pre-Launch: We’ll research the market for you and build a brand that stands out.
  2. Launch: We’ll design a website that speaks directly to your customer and is focused on converting them.
  3. Post-Launch: We stick with you every step of the way when producing your content, advertising it, and growing your marketing from the ground up.

We took our benefits and sold them to a client that was looking for continuity, ease, and clarity.

So, you’ve thought of your USP and built out the benefits underlying it. Now’s the time to walk the walk.

Step 3: Back up the talk with the walk, everywhere. Build credibility & evidence.  

If you did this right, your USP and benefits will set you apart. They will make you an anti-commodity, meaning they are unique enough to stand out.

Now comes the hard part, backing up your claims.

If you’re Domino’s and you deliver a pizza in 40 minutes but always have a reason you don’t give the refund, you’re a fraud.

And in the age of social media, the word will spread quickly.

Pick USPs you actually embody, deliver on them regularly, and make sure everyone knows.


Step 4: Integrate it across every element of your presence.

Your USP and brand need to reflect in every single touchpoint that a prospective or current customer could have with your business.

A few prominent examples:

  • Websites
  • Emails
  • Advertising
  • Social Media Posts
  • Signage
  • Business Cards
  • Packaging

The point of a brand is to avoid the zero-sum game that is commodification.

Most of your customers won’t see all of your branding. Some might see it on their social feeds. Other, on a billboard ad.

Your job is to make it so that every interaction they have with you reinforces the USP and benefits you put so much work into.

If you do all the work to figure out the right angle and then don’t get loud about it, you’ll have ended up just spinning your wheels for nothing.

The Art of ‘Building A Brand’ is Really A Step-by-Step Process

Step 1: What makes you different? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
Step 2: People don’t what what you do. They care what you can do for them. Tell them.
Step 3: It’s all useless if you don’t walk the walk. Build credibility & evidence.
Step 4: After you’ve done all the work of building your brand, be LOUD about it.

Doing these steps is why some companies like Tesla, Apple, and Dominoes take industries by storm. And others disappear in the monotony of me-too companies.

If you’d like some help on standing out, shoot us an email at and we’ll give you a free audit breaking down these steps.

Worst case, you got a completely free roadmap on how to start actually standing out from your competitors.

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