There is a marketing concept that is so critical in branding and innovation…point of difference, or POD.  What is it that is unique about you, your idea, your business?  If you don’t know what is distinctive, how can you make the impact you hope to have?  With that clarity, I think possibilities are limitless.

This past fall, I was reminded on how powerful this is when I heard Darden Smith perform and speak at BIF10.  He is a songwriter and storyteller who has had a successful recording career.  Darden’s gift is storytelling through song. He explained how in the beginning of his career it was about learning the craft and focusing the light on songwriting.  Honing the craft for your point of difference is critical. But don’t stop there. Once you have honed it, Darden reminded us that you must shine it on others.  Darden did this by creating a non profit organization that helps soldiers process post traumatic stress disorder through songwriting. He delivers powerful healing through his point of difference.

I had always considered the first part of the equation, honing your point of difference (e.g.light) but had not really considered the power of shining it with intention.  Two organizations that I believe are doing that well are Design Impact, a non profit design thinking social innovation agency, BoomAgers, a for profit boomer advertising agency. I happen to sit on the boards of both of these organizations and and had the joy of being with each of them this week as we chart their futures.  They know who they are and what their unique light is and they are shining it. I think this will result in long term success for these infant organizations.

At the heart of anything of value there is something unique, a point of difference.  Innovation is not just about wild ideas. Branding is not just about some fabricated character description. In both cases, its the meaningful point of difference that makes it valuable.


Take Action

  • Check out Darden Smith’s site.
  • Take a moment to articulate the point of difference for your idea, innovation, brand or yourself. It is hard work, but worth it.  A potential client asked me what my point of difference was in the design thinking space and I said “I am a practitioner, I know how to make it happen.”  What’s your POD?
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