25th June 2020

Creative rebels: daring to be different in business

Daring to be different is an interesting subject as by definition to be creative and innovative, we need to be different and do things differently.

If customers can not see any significant difference between you and your competition, the only reliable basis they have is price, which can lead to undervaluing your offer and slow growth. Many factors can lead to failure of a business, but it is often attributed to a failure in effectively differentiating the offer from the competition.

Many businesses claim to be innovative or have an entrepreneurial spirit, but in practice how many really do? From tech, fintech, and social media companies to food and beverage, retail, and entertainment, ‘disruptors’ in business are applauded for their successes, and their disruption takes confidence, ambition and daring. And what tends to hold us back from daring to be different, is fear.

This is when emotion and personal bias come into play, even when business is already under threat or all signs point to a positive outcome. Emotional intelligence is an important factor and learning to understand our emotions is key to influencing our behaviour and choices.

This is because we tend to have either a prevention focus or a promotion focus. Prevention focus is when we focus on what there is to lose. It helps us to be more careful and leads to accuracy, deliberation, thoroughness, and a strong leaning towards the tried and tested, or familiar. Although some necessary traits for work, when overdone it stops us from taking beneficial, positive actions.

Promotion focus is when we focus on what we might gain. This leads to speed, creativity, innovation, and embracing risk. However, too much promotion focus can make us overly optimistic and act without thinking things through.

Balance is key. We need to have enough prevention focus that we think through and plan properly, and enough promotion focus to drive us forward, see opportunities and most importantly, act!

With advanced levels of emotional intelligence, you will have the self-awareness and skills to manage yourself effectively, as well as the empathy and presence of mind to communicate and collaborate with others in a way that everyone finds stimulating and productive.

A diverse team can play an important role in helping to bring both prevention and promotion focus; and mitigate the conflicting feelings that one might feel when they are making a case for daring to be different.

Do not forget your target audiences and customers. Consider their viewpoint and whether your difference provides a positive answer to their question, ‘What is in it for me?’ This will greatly influence the debate over risk Vs reward. If the perceived outcome is strongly positive, then it is about delivering on your promise.

When progressing, ensure your marketing is focused through the lens of your new differentiator(s). Grab the attention and ensure consistency in message, not just in what you say, but by the way you say it. This will help to reinforce the difference between your business from competitors. Try not to confuse audiences with conflicting messages by continually refocusing on what makes you the same, once again out of fear. Daring to be different and ensuring that your target audiences and customers trust in your difference takes confidence. So, whatever you are feeling behind the scenes, appreciate there will be some nervousness, be outwardly confident.