Are You Really Suffering from Snowflake Syndrome?

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A while back in one of my first books, I wrote about what I call “Snowflake Syndrome” and it was the hit of the book. That chapter was popular beyond the specific industry that the book was written for. Recently, I have had a few encounters that have reminded me of it and got me thinking that maybe I should expand upon it and release a new book. Maybe…what do you think? 

So just what is Snowflake Syndrome? It’s when a brand believes that it is unique in its market and that the market should go out of its way to recognize them for it.

Snowflake Syndrome often appears in businesses at specific stages of growth: startup, about 2-4 years after a turning point, or at the launch of a new product or service. It’s a blend of excitement, vulnerability, but mostly ego.

Yes, I said it. Snowflake Syndrome is mostly about ego—your ego. Yes, snowflakes are unique and beautiful, but to someone in the middle of a snowstorm—or faced with a choice of suppliers, that unique snowflake looks and functions the exact same as everyone else.

I had a conversation with a guy the other day who told me that normal branding rules don’t apply to his business. It took everything I had not to laugh. He proceeded to tell me that he has such a unique business in a unique location he didn’t have to worry about marketing or branding his business—oh and by the way, because he read a few articles so now he’s a marketing expert too.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that marketing and branding rules are fluid, not etched in stone. And I’ll be the first one to tell you that there are certain decisions and methods that subconsciously help you build that loyal following with your customers and clients—hence why they are often referred to as “branding rules”. To believe that you don’t need to listen to any of the rules, sorry dude, you have Snowflake Syndrome.

The other reality is true snowflake businesses or businesses that create a blue ocean (I love this book series, by the way) are rare. They don’t happen every day and when they do, they are usually a market or even an economic game-changer.

I had a conversation with someone about who they partnered with and this person felt that because of this partnership they were doing something that no one else anywhere had ever done. Businesses partner together every day for a number of reasons. There was absolutely nothing special about either business. Companies within these two industries partner together all the time. Sorry, dude, you have Snowflake Syndrome.

Most businesses create an option or an alternative method to an existing way of doing something to appeal to a specific audience—a segment within a market. To the market as a whole, you are the same as every other provider out there.

THAT IS OK!

As you build your brand and build a loyal following, you become valuable to your audience and your clientele, as you should—you are still not a snowflake.

The other challenge with brands for business leaders that suffer from Snowflake Syndrome is because they truly believe they are better than others, they are less open or sometimes not open at all to help or improvement. You’ll often hear a phrase like “Well you just don’t get it” or “Well my business is different”.

Yes, your business IS different, but that doesn’t mean that a truly qualified professional can’t help you. It also doesn’t mean that you aren’t missing something or don’t know something. Even true Snowflake businesses have similar struggles. They face growing pains, marketing challenges, and technology problems, operational and financial struggles to name a few.

As I said, Snowflake Syndrome is primarily ego-based, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s ok to take pride in the work that you’ve accomplished AND realize that there is always room for improvement. Life, business, and things will always change. They should change. If you’re not growing, if you’re not open for change, your business will die.