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  • Joseph Panetta

Six Ways to Stand Out/Get Noticed!

Updated: May 30, 2023


Key Takeaways

  1. Imitate AND Innovate

  2. Do it differently than others in the field

  3. Authenticity reigns

  4. Stop Telling/Start Asking & Inviting

  5. Purpose-Driven Wins

  6. Be Relevant or Be Gone

This “listicle” is backed by 30 years of experience; current brand success (and failure) all designed to offer real-life examples. If your brand needs to stand out, stand apart or gain new traction, consider these steps to make that happen….


ONE: Innovate AND Imitate – Find a brand whose success you admire. Consider what they did to achieve that success (IMITATE). Then find an INNOVATIVE way to deploy that thinking in your own marketing.



Newly installed Tourneau CEO to me, “I’m hiring the architect of the Apple store.”

Me: “To do what?”

CEO: “To redesign our stores”

(note: Tourneau, the world’s largest watch retailer, had 44 stand-alone stores selling roughly 100 brands – many top luxury & prestige timepieces.)

Me: “What do you hope to achieve?”

CEO: “You see the lines outside the Apple store? I want that for us!”

Me: “Folks are not lined up for access inside a glass cube. The draw is not the building – it’s the employees. Apple employees want to infect you with their passion for all things Apple. They WANT to fix your problem. That’s why people line up – not the building.


By contrast, how do Tourneau employees greet customers? Are they excited to share new models, new learnings, history? No. They pull watches ONLY out when asked. Maybe address the customer experience instead of the architecture.”


TWO: Do it Differently

“Fit in!” The societal pressure to “be like everyone else” is instinctive. We want to be included – part of the pack. There is safety in numbers.

But in the world of brands, different is what works.

Not different for difference's sake, but authentically different.

skinny tan before and after picture

Images for most self-tanning brands showcased young models with perfect bodies perfectly tanned poolside. Louise Ferguson’s Skinny Tan was created for new moms returning to work and needing to feel more confident in their bodies. Her creation celebrated and turned the spotlight on people like her. The images? Almost uniquely user-generated pictures supplied by women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who felt seen (in a category where they had been invisible). The brand skyrocketed but not at the expense of its competition – Skinny Tan brought new and lapsed users into the category. The brand literally grew the user base for self-tanning. I'm glad to have been at the helm bringing the brand to the Americas.


THREE: Authenticity

It’s not just “be who you are” as a brand – it’s about OWNING your position. Your brand may not be for everybody, and that's okay. Inc. Magazine ranked the top 20 “most authentic brands” – unsurprisingly Ben & Jerry’s, Apple and Lego are mentioned. All are brands that stand for something and stick to it (even when it may be polarizing). Each attracted a global following for being exactly who they are.


FOUR: Don’t Tell – ASK!

For years brands TOLD customers what they wanted (or should want); they told them how & when to use it. Until one day, the Glossier blog decided it would ask its audience what kinds of beauty products they wanted. In short order, one of the first woman­-owned billion­-dollar brands of the 21st century was on everyone's radar.

Glossier logo

The key ingredient to Glossier’s success: Engagement user-generated content provided the basis for its digital strategy (where can I find like-minded potential customers? From the ones I already have!)


Often misunderstood as "enough about me, what do you think about me?", real engagement leverages actual user feedback to create products that answer a stated need that is then dialed back to those same providers. This promotes the solution they co­-created. It's a genius master stroke.


FIVE: Be About More than the Sale

The days of finding a purpose for your brand to tag along with are over. Today’s consumer looks for more than a product to fill a need or want. They want to join tribes, to feel part of something bigger. Slacktivism is a real thing. Successful brands today are built around a purpose and that purpose becomes core to product design, to message and how marketing is deployed. Done well, it can galvanize an existing consumer base and draw new acolytes to the cause. It’s not “1% of proceeds go to fill-the-the-blank-charity.” It’s Greta Thunberg’s endorsement; it’s cleaning up the ocean and using the plastic to make something sustainable – look at Orra by my friend Ryan Thompson.


SIX: Relevancy

She may like your brand or product, but your message does not speak to her. But you did “everything right” – what happened? It’s likely because your message did not resonate. She did not connect to it. It missed her truth, her need – it did not speak her language.

The Winter Antiques Show needed to appeal to a younger target. We devised a way to keep the imagery consistent but play with the messaging to be more target-specific. We showed an example: a new ad for the Volvo S60. Standard car image, great background – but the message was “Haters gonna hate.” The septuagenarian leadership asked, “what does THAT mean?”

volvo ad - haters gonna hate

We replied: "the message was designed for a younger customer – the fact that you don't get it is precisely the point. You don't have to, they do!" The message was relevant for a young consumer: the one they wanted to attract.

Wonderbra offers another masterclass in messaging: grade-school composition book cover with the line: Turn our As and Bs into Cs and Ds – every woman instantly knew what they meant!



Growing up, we’re taught to “fit in.” Hell, we WANT to. But on the playing field of retail, e-tail and brand “warfare”, being authentically different, owning who you are as a brand attracts more than customers. It builds community.


Looking for ways to stand out, contact us (it’s kinda our thing).



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