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Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,507 ratings  ·  145 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Crown Business
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  1,507 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not a big fan of business books. However, I had been listening to Youngme Moon on HBS's After Hours podcast for a few months and enjoyed her take on matters. When wandering around my office one day, I found her book discarded on a counter in one of the side kitchens. Recognizing the name, I picked it up and resolved to read it.

Here's what I learned: Youngme Moon is a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, she has written a lot of case studies as a professor, and despite her eleva
Shawn Liu
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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!
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: digital
Liked it. A somewhat philosophical take on what it means to be different. I believe the author was a business professor so the context of the book was in the business world (e.g. why/how Ikea or a couple of other brands are considered differnet). Easy business read.
Doug Stotland
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
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+.
Brian Nicholson
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Decent read for those digging into positioning and differentiation. I'd put this at 3.5 stars. There are some good examples throughout. During the first read, it didn't come across as heavily research-backed, but rather as the perspective of a qualified educator. Whether that's good or bad or neutral depends on what you're looking for.
May 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true must read for everyone involved with marketing.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, education
What if working like crazy to beat the competition did exactly the opposite, making you mediocre and more like the competition?

Summary of the book:

The message of this book is HUGE!
Do NOT try to make sure your weaknesses are up to par as everyone else, love your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths. Be DIFFERENT! Porsche does not make cheap cars. Robert Greene does not write easy books. Nassim Taleb is not polite. Be Different (and better) to stand out and succeed.
Detailed Review:
I don’t how
Vikash Anand
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Different: Escaping the competitive world by Youngme Moon is a book about the outliers, the anomalies, the iconoclasts, the players who have rejected well-rehearsed routines in favor of more adventurous approach. These players with a feel for improvisation, for experimentation have somehow managed to build brands and create products that strike genuine chord with people.

The book gives a new way of thinking about competition generally, and competitive differentiation.
Youngme Moon through storie
Bryan Rahija
Treads over some familiar trails blazed earlier by Blue Ocean Strategy and the Innovator's Dilemma, but overall decent. Moon identifies 3 ways types of brands that differentiate themselves:

1. Reverse brands, which go in the opposite directions of feature 'augmentation' trends in their category (e.g., how Google embraced a clean interface while all other search engines crammed more links into the homepage).

2. Breakaway brands, which reframe what it means to compete in a specific category (e.g.,
Sy. C
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: marketing
This is not a bad book, but as another reviewer has pointed out it feels like an elongated magazine article. From an investing standpoint it also gives some neat examples of businesses that fall in the low return on incremental capital category, i.e. the more they try to compete, the less pricing power they seem to have. While the author gives some good examples of businesses that differentiated their offerings by counter-intuitive contrarianism (e.g. Google's simplified homepage, Birkenstocks' ...more
Michael Silverman
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
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
David M.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was very good. Lots of food for thought here.

I've had a long-running love-hate relationship with Sinek's Start With Why. It's not that I think he's wrong, I just feel that it's not complete. This book, in my opinion, does a better (broader and more thorough) job of describing what makes successful companies successful... and spoiler alert: it's not just an inspirational internal mission statement.

Not the best business book I've read and not the worst. I may or may not have read this befor
Lani M
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I never thought I would enjoy reading a marketing book until I read this. It was quite boring at first, but when she started to mention case studies, it successfully sparked my interest. Through this book, I am now pretty much understand marketing techniques such as augmentation by addition, augmentation by multiplication, reversed positioning, and so forth. And I got to appreciate my Birkenstock sandals even more since it is one of the most badass or using the author's term, hostile brands.

Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Prana Business
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Simply one of the best business books I've read in years.
Raz Pirata
“Herding is confused as best practice wisdoms”

I have a love/hate relationship with business books. Generally, business books offer a lot and there is much that can be learned from them, the good ones anyway. They also are good at providing information in a succinct and dull way. They get to the point they are trying to make by treating every page like a negotiation that will be won with facts and figures. They are strategic in their application of story, fact, evidence, “see why I’m right?”, “yo
Nirali ZZaveri
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moon sets the stage for the dilemma facing a lot of extremely identical brands and business models and throws light on the futility of investments in subtle features for highly saturated markets.

While i agree with her observations in the fast moving consumer goods and selective consumer durables category, I think Moon misses the mark with business models in the B2B and B2B2C space. The unique thing about B2B branding and differentiation is that buyers and sellers tend to be specialised experts
alaudeen alamoudi
From my analysis of the book, I would argue that Moon provides insight on the expectations for marketers in their bid to creating brands that would be considered as being successful. Moon's argument on a majority of the brands operating within heterogeneous homogeneity is accurate, as a significant number only seek to copy what their competitors are doing rather than having to come up with their avenues for performance. Additionally, I must also point out that Moon can highlight the importance o ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book would appeal to those interested in marketing. I recommend starting with the last chapter in which the author explains how brands can be differentiated. Companies that are constantly watching its competitors and matching products/features/prices are indistinguishable from one another (like AT&T and T-Mobile or Crest and Colgate). Whereas companies that are expressing their values/culture and making products in alignment with that stand out (like a Ferrari car will never look like a Vol ...more
Hugo Tian
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Thomas Van Til
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favourites for now. The book dives into the world of brands and how we have so much choice in brands, that it becomes harder and harder to differentiate. She offers a couple of models and theories to work with and describes some great examples how companies truly differentiate from one another. Not through added features like washing soap with more rinsing power (augmentation or something), but through doing something actually different.

Will read this over and over.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Being in Sales lends itself to constantly having to rethink how you position yourself and your product in the market. Sometimes you have flexibility to redefine yourself (getting an MBA) but not your product (corporate mandate).

The biggest takeaway from this book is defined by this quote "The objective is not to blend into the blur; the objective it so stand out from it. This is what it means to be different."
Varun Mittal
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone interested in marketing. The book builds a case for beating your competitors through counter-logic marketing strategies. The strategies and their execution are not meant for the faint hearted and if not executed all the way, could permanently damage the business. A negative about this book, in my personal opinion, is the high level of vocabulary used. As a result, I had to interrupt my reading to refer to the dictionary on numerous occasions.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for class and was very impressed by the information Moon described. The way the book is told is different because it is almost told through story. There are an immense amount of real life examples that help bring the ideas home. I truly enjoyed reading how you can differentiate your business in various ways. I recommend this book to any marketing person.
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