hiding behind someone else’s shadow

Published by Tim Woo on

this morning, i was browsing around facebook and i came across this comment…

“thanks for teaching, april’s little brother!”

at first, it seemed fun and comical, but anyone who’s had an older sibling can relate to this…

if you and your older sibling have mutual friends, it’s likely you were known as “the little brother” or “the little sister”.

when i went to the same college as my brother, everyone knew me as “terrence’s little brother”.

so as you can imagine, seeing that comment brought back memories…

because everything you do and everything you are becomes a comparison to your older sibling.

you start to lose who you are, your identity, your voice, and your purpose.

a little extreme, but true. at first, it’s nothing. over time, it gets worse…

the more you call yourself “someone’s little brother/sister”, the more you start believing it.

but i didn’t want to live in the shadow of my brother.

i wanted to be tim. ME.

the irony is that so many businesses, musicians, and dancers do the same exact thing.

i couldn’t believe it when i saw a business explain their USP (unique selling proposition) as, “the walmart of home improvement and construction!”

don’t get me wrong…

it’s very useful to make a reference, but when that is what makes you stand out, it’s very hard not to attract the wrong audience if you’re not careful.

this doesn’t happen once, but with multiple startups –

  • “the uber of hotels!”
  • “the apple of websites!”
  • and the list goes on and on…

the “safe zone” i call it.

blending in with the noise. hiding the shadow a behemoth. these companies lose their own voice and branding along the way, even if it looks like they’ve got a personality.

this is especially a problem for startups looking to break in and make a name for themselves. to me, they sound like bootstrappers – people looking to ride off the success of someone else…

instead, be you. find out what makes you unique – whether it’s your customers, your voice, your products. it’s totally okay to model your business after something else, but eventually, you need to find the edges of your market so you can help the people who really need your help.

every business has their own story, voice, struggle, and solution for their target audience. don’t dismiss yourself and hide behind the shadow of a behemoth.

the cost is bigger than you think.

talk soon.

Categories: Marketing