In a world where press releases are packed with overused words, brands have to work incredibly hard to distinguish themselves from one another. Consumers and customers can’t recall, remember, or build a relationship with a generic brand, especially if it’s not the market leader.

It’s incredibly important to set your brand apart, whether by content, marketing, service, customer perks, events or any other tactics that are different from what your competitors are doing. How can you tell if your company passes this test? Here’s a quick way: take your corporate mission, most recent press release, etc. and remove your company’s name. Substitute in a competitor’s. If you can’t tell the difference, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Think about what sets you apart that users in your industry want and do that.

Description Fail

What company do you think the below paragraph describes?

XYZ ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the X and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the X. Today, XYZ continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, X operating system and X and professional applications. XYZ is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its X portable music and video players and X online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary X.

Now you could cheat and search with Google, but you probably won’t have to. It’s fairly obvious even with brands and products obscured that this is Apple, Inc.

Now try to identify this company:

X Inc. is an American multinational computer technology corporation that develops, sells, repairs and supports computers and related products and services. The company is one of the largest technological corporations in the world and is listed as number X in the Fortune 500 list. It is the third largest PC vendor in the world after Y and Z.

This could be any of a number of PC makers. Could you tell from this description whether it’s IBM, Dell, Lenovo, or HP? This is the essence of the white label test. Apply it to your own company and see if you can tell the difference between your brand and a competitor. Better yet, show a white label version to a colleague and see if they can tell the difference.

There’s An App For That, But We Don’t Know Which One

You’ve probably had this experience. You’re trying to find an app that will help you solve a problem. In the midst of your search you find that there are multiple apps in the market trying to solve the exact same problem without a clear description of what makes them stand out from one another. Other than ratings (which you suspect), you can’t figure out which one is better, so what do you do? You buy the cheapest one.

What if every app was clear about what sets them apart rather than the features they share with others? We’d all know which app to download rather than wasting time testing several (and I’m quite sure it’d make life easier for tech journalists/reporters as well).

Solve The Problem

Every brand has something that sets them apart from their competition. If you’re struggling to answer the question for your own brand, try this test. A good friend, Tom Webster, has a brilliant question you can ask your 10 best customers: “If our company disappeared tomorrow, what would you (customers) miss?” The answer is what makes you unique. It’s what sets you apart from all the others. It’s why your customers chose you over a competitor and it’s what will drive others to sign up to work with you.

As a startup, new business, or an established company, you must pass the white label test. If you can’t, then all of your PR and marketing efforts may have the worst possible outcome – your efforts could be helping a competitor because your customers can’t remember who you are.