Different – Book Review

By: Youngme Moon

Herd Thinking – why we are all the same:

The article starts by addressing the prevalent issue of the “herd mentality” in business, where companies tend to follow the leader in defining their identity based on a few qualities. It emphasizes how industries often evolve into a race for uniformity, with competitors mirroring successful features, leading to a lack of brand loyalty and a commoditized market.

The Path to Sameness:

Outlined as a seven-step cycle, this section describes how industries fall into a pattern of adding features to products/services, sparking a competitive rush to match, resulting in standardized features across the board. Over time, this cycle attracts new competitors, perpetuating sameness and making brand loyalty elusive.


The first strategy to break away from sameness is the “reversal” concept. Highlighting examples like Google and Jet Blue, the article illustrates how withholding features considered standard by the industry and introducing unexpected elements can set a brand apart. IKEA, for instance, offers a unique experience by combining expected deprivation with unexpected amenities.


This section introduces the “breakaway” strategy, where brands challenge established mental models and encourage consumers to adopt a new perspective. Examples include Kimberley-Clark’s creation of the “Pull-Up” and Swatch’s transformation of watches from precision craftsmanship to everyday fashion accessories. Breakaway brands immediately resonate with consumers without the need for extensive re-education.


The third approach to differentiation is using “hostility” to one’s advantage, laying down a gauntlet rather than a welcome mat. Mini and the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld serve as examples, embracing and even exaggerating perceived faults. These brands actively create both friends and enemies, standing out through unconventional and, at times, provocative approaches.


The article concludes by emphasizing the need for courage to truly stand out and be different in a way that makes a significant impact. It positions Youngme Moon’s insights as a valuable resource for those ready to challenge the status quo and embrace differentiation as a strategic advantage in the competitive business landscape.

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