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Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,104 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Why trying to be the best … competing like crazy … makes you mediocre

Every few years a book—through a combination of the author’s unique voice, storytelling ability, wit, and insight—simply breaks the mold. Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is one example. Richard Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” is another.
Now comes Youngme Moon’s Different, a book for “peo
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Crown Business (first published 2010)
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Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author offers few revolutionary concepts. Mostly, she brings into focus how the conventional approaches to “differentiation” have resulted in a competitive chase for incremental differences. Companies move and follow one another rather predictably, like a herd. The outcome is industries with overwhelming choices but superficial differentiation to the point where consumers no longer identify with individual brands but instead with categories of brands as being rather generic. Innovative brand ...more
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking book. At first, I was frustrated because the author explains upfront that this won't be like other business books. No tidy takeaways and key action points. You have to slow down and let her walk you through her thinking. She's so eloquent, though, that once you do this, she does a brilliant job of coming at key points from surprising directions.

The sign of a good book is one that stays with you and/or one you want to discuss with others and Different scored on both fronts. I e
Doug Stotland
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I enjoyed the ideas and the way she writes but classic example of a book that was probably a magazine article or bschool case study that someone stretched to sell as a book.
Shawn Liu
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
An insightful, nuanced, atypical "business" book. Usually business books are popular in their target audience because they offer actionable golden bullets: "do these 1, 2, 3 steps and you can succeed." This book intentionally eschews that route. It is not about "how" a business becomes "different," but rather, simply about describing cases of businesses that have really stood out for being different in one way or another. There are cases on Google, Ikea, Apple, Harley Davidson, etc. These compan ...more
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting. Informative. Well written. Two of my favorite brands are profiled in the book: Ikea and In-N-Out Burger. While the author is addressing larger businesses and their product marketing efforts, I chose to read this to see how some of the concepts could be applied to indie art/craft businesses (which, in recent years, seem to be adopting the same marketing strategies as regular "brands" ... to their detriment, IMHO).

Nice to see big brands that do it their own way and find success!
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was about business and I liked how it was unique because unlike other business books I gave up on in the first page this was more interesting. I liked how it gave lots of examples starting from Jet Blue to Harley-Davidson. It talked about the benefits of being different as a company. It said the three types of different businesses were hostile brands, reversed brands and breakaway brands.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bidness
This book had some interesting points, but it felt like the author had a need to fill space and added a lot of unnecessary rambling. She is unapologetic for her style in the intro, which is kind of a mishmash of thoughts. I could deal with that, but the book probably could have been about 100 pages instead of 200+.
May 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I liked the general manifesto, but the book didn't really have enough depth. I didn't finish reading it feeling armed with great case studies or facts. I also found the references to the author's own family / children / students a bit off putting.
Prana Business
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. Simply one of the best business books I've read in years.
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true must read for everyone involved with marketing.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
- a proliferação de uma categoria de produtos( hipercompetitivas) começa a gerar cada vez menos diferenças entre os produtos/ marcas. Os diferenciais são imperceptíveis para o consumidor.
- conhecimento profundo anda lado a lado com a devoção, sentimos afinidade pela categoria de produtos, viramos aficcionados e ai pode haver um momento de maturação de uma categoria onde começamos a nos alienar pelas diferenças e a categoria entra em expiral.
- homogeneidade heterogênica - as diferenças existem ma
Michael Silverman
2.5 stars.
I really wanted to like this book, and to some extent I did. But I also found it extremely frustrating. All to say, there are some real pros and cons to this book. It's really more of a beach read than academic.

- It's interesting
- There is some good information to be learned about human behavior and information processing
- It's a very easy read

- The examples are cherry picked and the analysis of their impact entirely post-hoc. It is far from scientific. There are no examples
Hugo Tian
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Moon is of great insight of how competition eventually leads to less product differentiation. The book gives a few novel ideas to escape competition dilemma. The last two chapters however are redundant to me. It would be better to put them in an epilogue. Saying a great thing and a good thing is less charming then saying a great thing only. Overall, it refreshes the mindsets in marketing and product design.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book! It was a fascinating collection of case studies on different businesses, and I thought that Moon explained the marketing and ideas behind each brand in a very interesting way. All in all, a great analysis of larger societal trends in marketing and the companies that stand out.
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a natural contrarian, I loved the ideas of the book. The higher the competition, the higher the homogenization. Thus, to be special, one must be different. The book offers a few categories of different. Again, I very much liked the ideas.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is an experienced marketeer, and gives you some guidelines to use in your marketing concepts. More than average.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Verbose, without benefit.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-book-list
One of the most counter-intuitive business books I've ever read.

Some takeaways:

* The minute we choose to measure something, we are essentially choosing to aspire to it.
* The act of measurement changes the behavior of the thing being measured.
* There is a cost to differentiation. There is a price to be paid for excellence.
* Google is a "reverse-positioned brand." A reverse-brand is one that makes the deliberate decision to defy the augmentation trend in a category in which customers have come
Curtis Schofield
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buisness people, software developers, entripenures, non-profits
Recommended to Curtis by: Web
Shelves: practicality
Permaculture: A Designers' Manual
Bill Mollison
Chapter 14 - is a most important read for any would be strategist and designer of business models and architect of virtual and real spaces.


Combine the above with the very insightful and contemporary observations of Youngme Moon - a altogether *different* vision of economy and future begins to occur to me.

COMPETITION disables our energies. Just as the runner who runs for the enjoyment and beauty of it is free from the obsession, narrow min
R Patchett
I was excited to read "Different" and gain insights from Dr. Moon's class at the Harvard Business School. This was especially true as I only took 1 Marketing class in undergrad and grad school (I diversified my studies a bit). However, "Different" left me with a lukewarm feeling. I was disappointed as I did not have many "Ah-ha!" moments while reading this book. The majority of the viewpoints presented were common sense to me. I kept waiting for the book to surprise me, and it really never did ( ...more
Alex Penland
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I honestly was not expecting a book about marketing to be so insightful.

Most business books are dry reads with textbook-esque page formats and chapter titles like "Designing and Implementing Your Marketing Plan" or "Dynamic Interactive Marketing". They're often informative but dry and simplified.

Moon's book is true to the title: different.

It reads like a lecture or a conversation. She starts out by telling you directly that she's going to meander, that her wording is organic, that it's a book ab
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Even though I can't bring myself to say that I enjoyed a business book, I did find this one quite interesting. The concept of differentiation is really applicable to any industry, especially tech start-ups, and it was #neat to identify tactics that my own team is implementing in an effort to stay relevant and top-of-mind in the ecommerce marketing space. I did find that it got a bit wordy here and there, and some of her anecdotes were long-winded and unnecessary instead of to-the-point and illum ...more
David Fox
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, owned-books
An Indictment of Sameness

I was inspired to read Dr. Moon's book after attending a seminar she presented at a recent marketing conference. Hands down, her presentation towered over everyone else's, substantially & stylistically. Almost effortlessly, like a talented story teller, she effectively deflated America's obsession with competitiveness by fingering the outcome - banal sameness. Her book builds on the dialectic, detailing how our obsessive, almost retributive behavior of responding to
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The age of abundance is over, I remember thinking, not beacuase things are no longer abundant, but because abundance has lost its status as our reigning aspiration." (xi)

"But measurement can cut both ways. In track and field, we happen to measure speed, and so we cultivate a nation of speedsters. If we happened to measure running style, we would cultivate a nation of gazelles. The minute we choose to measure something, we are essentially choosing to aspire to it." (29)

"[T]his is what reverse br
Youngme explores what makes brand boring and what makes them inspirational in this book about breaking away from your competition. She highlights 3 brand types that achieve this called:

1. Reverse brands
- like when Google put out a homepage devoid of the million things AOL and Yahoo! had

2. Breakaway brands
- when Sony branded AIBO not as a robot but a pet and reframed how we thought of the product

3. Hostile brands
- Like the Mini Cooper which focused on how much smaller it was than you thought when
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, non-fiction
Business books tend not to be nail-biting, page-turning, or dramatic. This one is no exception, though I did find it approachable and engaging.

Through multiple lines of questioning, Different explores why today’s consumers tend towards what Youngme Moon describes as “brand agnosticism” rather than brand loyalty. I tend to agree with her premise, that for all the products available to modern consumers, the selection in categories from cereal to luxury cars seem rife with a feeling of underwhelmin
Aug 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book on marketing by Moon, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School. I knew I'd like the book when, right in the beginning, she notes that scholars can add to a field in two ways: by distilling it, or by enriching it with shades of nuance, and she intended to do the latter. I'm sick of distillation-books lately, of which there are too many, books that clearly would rather be 10-page bullet-list outlines if only you could sell those for $10+. Different is not like those, as the title ...more
Oct 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read about branding attempts from quite a few industries and companies, though as Moon states from the beginning there is no straight up lesson on how to make your brand stand out. Some good insights - a company's tendency is to correct perceived weaknesses to catch up with the rest of the market, though the best way forward may be to double down on the strengths and let the weaknesses stand. Hostile brands - MiniCooper, Red Bull, Apple - do just that and have obtained success in ...more
Jeff Cutler-stamm
Interesting take on how brands differentiate or, more commonly, fail to differentiate themselves. Intense focus on competition leads to homogeneity. To break out of the pack is to take an unconventional approach, give voice to bold new ideas, surpress the impulse to skepticism to let those ideas flourish. I've always been wary of paying too much attention to what competitors are doing as it tends to stifle innovation. Moon lends credence to this approach and implores us to favor the Big Idea ove ...more
Barry Graubart
The basic concept of Youngme Moon's book is sound - product managers should stop chasing the competition with features and instead focus on delighting customers by meeting their needs with creative and innovative solutions. I enjoyed the first few chapters. But, she quickly ran out of things to say and the latter chapters are increasingly just examples of her message from the first few.

I put the book down halfway through -- and know others who did the same. This would have been a great essay or
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“But to be a parent is to live in the past-present-future all at once. It is to hug your children and be intensely aware of how much smaller they felt last year ... even as you wonder how much bigger they will feel the next. It is to be a time-shifter, to marvel at the budding of their intellect, their verbal dexterity, their sense of humor ... at the same time rewinding and fast-forwarding ... to when they were younger, to when they'll be older. It is to experience longing for the here and now, which I know sounds flaky - sort of like complaining about being homesick when you're already home - but can happen, trust me, when you live in multiple time zones all at once.” 11 likes
“When we are surrounded by conformity, by homogeneity, we all look for ways to create a little chafe.” 2 likes
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