Master the Art of Focus by Being Unapologetically Different

If you take nothing else away from this module other than this I’ll be fine with it: You have to be different. You have to stand out. And today’s I’m going to show you how you go about being different and the benefits it unlocks for your brand.

But first I need to make reference to where I’m getting this material from.

The Five Brand Building Principles

The upcoming principles I’m going to share with you come from Marty Neumeier in his book, The Brand Gap.

This book really helped to shape my own mindset on branding and influenced the way I approach it. What you’re going to read are my own words and interpretations of these principles.


Highlights, Quick Wins, and Takeaways:

  • If you want to dominate, you have to be different. You have to stand out.
  • Immediately stop the Buy, Click, Share, Support My Thing-style of marketing.
  • To capture your audience’s interest and attention you’re required to provide value. And that value needs to be incredible.
  • Being the underdog is the perfect opportunity to shake up your industry. 
  • Own your differences.
  • Combining focus and differentiate allows you to become the answer everyone looks to in your industry.


Discipline #1: Differentiate



Don’t compete.

When you’re in the business of dominating, you become different. When you compete, you become ‘their version of this product’. And who wants that?

Before my comic publishing business started producing a podcast show, I noticed that every other indie comic publisher stuck to this formula when it came to social media. This formula shouldn’t be anything unfamiliar to you. I think everyone in any industry resorts to this style of marketing.

It’s the whole: “Buy/Click/Support/Share/Retweet/Like My Thing!,” kind of carrying on.

If that’s you, you have to stop. Hang it up right now.

Today is the last day of buy and click my thing. You have to stand out. You have to do what no one else is doing.

I knew we wouldn’t build an organic, audience-driven business that was sustainable and profitable with that kind of marketing nonsense, so we started a podcast. A sponsor-free, ad-free, hour long podcast that would provide first time indie comic creators insight into our processes, experiences, failures, successes, losses, and wins over the last five years, and be the guidance and mentorship to them I wish I had five years ago.

And let me tell you something. The results have been phenomenal.

Through Instagram, Twitter, email, Facebook, and Snapchat our engagement is going through the roof.

People are sending us their scripts to review, their characters, and are letting us know how helpful and valuable the podcast is. We’re growing an audience organically by being different and not asking everyone to buy or click our thing.

And that’s exactly how you need to approach your audience when it comes to your brand.

Don’t let your underdog status stop you. That’s the perfect opportunity to be different.

T-mobile had been getting a bad rap sheet for years. It was the fourth largest US cell phone carrier after Sprint, AT&T and the top dog, Verizon.

Then they started shaking things up.

  • They changed their target audience. They went from a catch-all to attracting the young and urban crowd. T-mobile is cool. You walk into the store and the latest hits are playing unapologetically. It also has a very minimalist appeal to it.
  • They changed what it means to be a cell phone company. They still set the tone of how the industry should work for the consumer. T-mobile will be the first to do something huge, then AT&T and Verizon will follow along. Talk about dominating and being different enough at the same time to get Verizon to change its ways.
  • They free us from contracts and agreements. No one was doing this prior to T-mobile. No one. The mobile industry’s business model was to shackle you into a two year contract, then #TeamPink came along, ripped contracts in half, and said you can come and go as you please. No contracts. No agreements. And as one would think, AT&T and Verizon followed suit.

They’ve even gone as far as to pay your early termination fees with the other carriers if you want to switch.

Needless to say, I got on board that train back in 2014. I was at my wit’s end with Verizon. Their service is incomparable, but you have to market more than features to win people over these days—you need benefits.

T-Mobile started marketing benefits.

They painted a picture of the kind of person I’d become if I signed up with them and their service. Sure. I wouldn’t get the same coverage, but they appealed to me. They stood out. They did what no one else was doing—they actually cared about me! And that sealed the deal forever.

Tell your audience the kind of person they will become and how they will benefit from those differences.

In a world that goes left, you need to go right.

Our bodies are amazing.

Did you know our brains are hardwired to protect us from mass amounts of information? We’re living in the Information Age. We consume more information than ever before in the history of the human race. We’re being subjected to tons of information, ads, marketing and branding throughout a single day, but our brains keep us noticing only what’s different and ignores the rest.

You have to make sure someone’s brain isn’t filtering you out.

Buy and click my thing gets you filtered.

“Here’s a free, sponsor-free, ad-free hour long podcast produced once a week that’ll help you become a better version of yourself,” gets you attention.

Go after your differences with all the boldness and courage in the world.

If you’re going to be timid and afraid in your differences I’d rather you not do them at all.

I’m serious.

If you’re scared, leave it up to those who are ready to shake your industry up without a care in the world of what others are going to think.

This kind of brand building is reserved for those kinds of people.

The Steve Jobs and the Walt Disneys; the Oprah Winfreys and the Martha Stewarts. Completely own what makes you different and don’t look back.

Don’t worry about what other people are doing. If you’re going to dominate, you have to get into the habit of both owning who you are and sticking to what you said you’re going to do.

Verizon use to dominate. Now they compete. Little ole T-mobile came in and flipped the industry on its head. Just because you’re the smallest, the youngest, or the most inexperienced doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. If you be like everyone else, you don’t get to be anyone at all.



The 3 Most Beneficial Reasons to Differentiate Your Brand


You ready? You may need to write these down:

  1. Focus.
  2. Focus.
  3. FOCUS.

You have to remain focused on you and only you. When you’re not competing, you’re focused on what you’re doing. You aren’t looking over your competition’s shoulder trying to take a peek at their answers. You become the answer.

Stop looking over your competition’s shoulder for the answers. With focus and differentiation, you become the answer.

When you try to be like everyone else you end up grasping at straws.

You’ll snag a red one, a blue one, a striped one, and one of those crazy-designed ones, and end up becoming many different things that are going to overwhelm and confuse your audience. You can’t afford to do that. They’ll leave. That’s the opposite of what we want to accomplish.

Focus brings you clarity.

I want you to answer these three questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. And why does it matter?

That third question usually trips people up. You have to know why what you do matters. Once you figure that out, not only can you focus, you can truly be different and offer the audience in your industry something different.

I’m going to use my comic publishing business as an example you can use to answer these questions for yourself.

Who are you?

We’re Arclight Comics, an indie comic publisher.

What do you do?
We make superhero comics.

Why does it matter?
The current landscape of the industry has absolutely no desire to diversify; to include; to tell new kinds of stories with new characters; or respect their fanbase. Our mission is to tell enjoyable, memorable, and timeless stories with characters that will last for generations to come.

Let’s break this down.

The focus is making superhero comics.

I didn’t include the podcast; I didn’t say we make comics and t-shirts, or comics, a podcast show, and merchandise.

I said superhero comics. That’s our focus. Our differentiating factor is providing value and putting the audience first.

Because we have this focus and own our differences, we’re able to extend these things. That’s where the podcast came from. My co-host and I have five years worth of experience creating a comic publishing business from scratch. We decided to give to other indie creators what wasn’t available to us five years ago: a helping hand in the process.

So we not only talk about creating our own superhero comics, but we’re helping in the process.

We’ve planned for more extensions of this focus:

  1. We’re planning a blog to also help with the process of creating superhero comics.
  2. I want to vlog about the day-to-day processes that goes into making superhero comics.

You see how this extends from a single focus and your differentiating factor? Making superhero comics and helping people. We’re focused. We aren’t making superhero comic, sci-fi comics, mystery comics, and noir comics. Things get diluted. You have to niche down and focus.

You grow the value of your brand by reinforcing its focus.

You need a Baseline Focus.

A single, uncluttered focus and differentiating factor you can extend to other facets of your business and brand.

Apple started with the personal computer. The intent was to revolutionize. Then they went after the music industry with the iPod. Then came the mobile industry with the iPhone. Then they invented a completely newer industry: the tablet industry. All technology. All personal. All revolutionary.

And once you decide on what your focus and niche is going to be, you’re going to need help.

You can certainly go at it alone and be a solopreneur, but Hollywood productions aren’t built alone. It requires the hands of many to pull off that level of production, and in most cases, quality film making and storytelling. You have to open yourself up to collaborating.

It takes a village to build an empire and I’m going to show you why…

Continue to Day 4