Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

Unlike any other business book, Different explores what it means for a brand to truly stand out, and why competition is not always a good idea.


Book notes

Rather than attempting to distil everything, some things are better understood by adding richness and context. This is what Feynman did.

Competition makes things more similar

Differentiation (excellence in anything) comes at a cost

Play to your strengths

Would companies produce better products if they didn’t know what the competition was doing?

When companies are running to stand still, it is “a sign that a category has achieved hyper-maturity”

“The paradox of progress is that it makes things better, until it makes things worse.”

Pay attention to brands that are able to entice customers from their existing buying habits

Look for brands that offer a true alternative

Subtract when people expect augmentation, but then give something else that others don’t. “Say no where others say yes, but also say yes where others say no.”

“It is only when we are drowning in choices that we are going to feel liberated when someone takes them.”

Hostile brands “refuse to play the game of persuasion in its old-school form. They say the things that other brands won’t say, the things that risk chasing us away.”

Don’t try to compete – stand out

“There are two kinds of difference. There is a kind of difference that says nothing, and there is a kind of difference that speaks volumes.”

Don’t worry about being 100 percent right all the time

Don’t focus exclusively on what the competition is doing

Resist the urge to play catch-up

Suspend scepticism for a while when exploring unconventional ideas

Not everything is measurable. Something is lost when everything is reduced to numbers.

Personally speaking, I know that whenever I find myself soaked in an abundance of something—of anything, really—the overkill stokes a deep hunger for relief. What this means is that when I am surrounded by clamor and excitement and activity and commotion, what becomes scarce for me is … quiet.


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