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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

15 ideas to build brand recognition in a crowded marketplace

Follow these tips to attract the right people, gain credibility, and elevate your business.

15 ideas to build brand recognition in a crowded marketplace
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

When you are just starting out in the market, it may be hard to achieve immediate recognition as the newest player on the field or compete for clients in a crowded space. To pique consumer interest in an oversaturated space, you can study behavior patterns to carve your niche, but it is going to take more than free product samples or trial membership to get consumers to support your brand and stick with you for the long haul.

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Below, 15 members of Fast Company Executive Board offer their advice on how to boost your brand to appeal to clients in the marketplace.

1. GET TO KNOW YOUR MARKET.

When positioning your brand in a saturated market, you should first do some competitive analyses to learn what your counterparts are saying externally. From there, develop platforms that support your company’s narrative and focus on the white space topics that your audience wants to learn about. – Melanie Samba, Sproxxy

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2. PROMOTE YOUR AUTHENTIC ATTRIBUTES.

Think about three to four attributes that may be interesting to others. For example, demonstrating that you are versatile, adaptable, flexible, and have an entrepreneurial mindset and outlook can be a point of difference that makes you stand out in a crowded market.

Nicholas Wyman, Institute for Workplace Skills & Innovation

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3. PROVIDE A SAMPLE PRODUCT OR SERVICE.

When you’re starting out in business, there’s no substitute for giving people the chance to experience your product or service. Whether it’s a free trial, sampling, test drive, or another low-cost-of-entry option, get it into the hands of your customer and build it into your profit and loss to ensure you still have a path to profitability. This is how you win people over and convert them into evangelists for your brand. – Anisa Kumar, Narvar

4. STUDY POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS.

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Disruption happens when your product and your message uniquely talks to and brings to light how the ineffectiveness, inefficiencies, and inequities of the current way of doing things are no longer okay. Study the behavior patterns of your target audience. Discovering where they go for information to make decisions and investing in an omnichannel approach will help you zero in on your potential customers and move the needle quickly. – Patti Fletcher, Limeade

5. EXPLAIN HOW YOU’LL SOLVE CONSUMER PROBLEMS.

A large market means customers already understand the value of your category, so focus on the most visceral new benefit you deliver. In the software cybersecurity realm, I always ask, “How has the world changed, and how does your offering help your customer be a hero in today’s new world?” If you easily explain the peace of mind you provide, you’ll win advocates who spread the word for you. – Martin Roesch, Netography

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6. WRITE, SPEAK, AND MEET.

Writing, speaking, and meeting are the key pillars of thought leadership that build a brand. So, get your articles published in industry outlets, accept invitations to speak at conferences, and take every opportunity that comes your way to meet with prospective customers and influencers. Through these avenues, focus on what problem you are solving for customers that others do not, or how you do it better. Then align with key luminaries to help tell your story. – Jennifer Hoff, Colibri Group

7. LIVE UP TO YOUR BRAND’S PROMISE.

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Your brand is a promise. Ask yourself regularly, “Am I delivering on that promise across my business?” I’m proud to lead a company that is obsessed with what is going on in our industry, our competitors, and what sets us apart. Focused on our values and inspired by our mission, Amino Health’s brand is the manifestation of our passion for empowering patients to find the best care possible. – David Vivero, Amino

8. DEVELOP THOUGHT LEADERSHIP INITIATIVES.

To build brand recognition, one needs to strive for differentiation to rise above the noise. Take an orthogonal and radical view that will separate you from incumbents and amplify your brand. Create thought leadership by writing the definitive book that defines your space, then establish an industry summit and include your competitors. Invest in a partner ecosystem that enhances reputation and credibility. – Ananth Appathurai, Code42 Software, Inc.

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9. DELIVER SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Brands need to deliver a superior, seamless customer experience as Amazon has done. Amazon has made purchasing easier than ever, which requires visibility into its operations, including inventory, pricing, delivery, and ease of returns. When a brand can reliably deliver a superior post-purchase experience using data-driven insights, industry recognition will follow. – Eric Best, SoundCommerce

10. THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX.

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The best way to instantly build brand recognition is to establish a very specific point of view. From your logo font and colors to your packaging and language, find ways to differentiate yourself instead of mimicking others. Authenticity is crucial, therefore, how can you stand out if you are putting yourself or your company inside a box? Unique is in, so find your tone, look, and voice and stick to it! – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity

11. ENGAGE IN MEDIA COVERAGE THAT SERVES THE READER.

The best thing you can do is get covered by the press and not make it about yourself. It sounds counterintuitive, but in an oversaturated space, you really need to make sure you’re providing value. Whether you’re writing a byline article or getting quoted in an article, think about the reader of the publication and how you can provide insights that will help them better understand the topic. – Mark Pasetsky, Mark Allen & Co.

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12. IDENTIFY YOUR VALUE-ADD THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS.

By leveraging partnerships, you’ll add credibility and market reach to your brand. So, carve out a niche where you are valuable and clearly define a target market and a referenceable customer—even if it’s at negative margins. Then double down on public relations, augmented reality, and marketing in the channels that your target customers trust and value. – Paola Doebel, Ensono

13. MAKE LOTS OF NOISE. 

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The more noise you can make, the more eyeballs and touchpoints you will establish with potential clients. Noise is made through speaking, writing, public relations, email marketing, and direct outreach. The more you do, the greater likelihood you will have that people will start to take notice. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

14. MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION.

People do business with the people they like, so it is important to connect directly in person or on the phone. By doing so, you’ll kick start important relationships versus sending an email or a text message. Customer service is key, so listening and responding to what the customer tells you they want, will show that you are willing to go the extra mile. That will make you stand out from the competition. – Ray Titus, United Franchise Group

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15. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

Focus exclusively on what makes you different. Are you more boutique while your competitors are more mass-market? Are you woman-owned? Do you offer extras that others in your industry don’t? Double down on your differentiators in your marketing and promotion; you may appeal to fewer people, but that’s how you start generating raving fans. – Anna David, Legacy Launch Pad

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