You're in the shower and a great app idea comes to you. All excited you do some research only to have find that there are hundreds of similar apps.

Don’t be demotivated. Here is what to do when your app idea already exists.

You can make sure your app stands out from the competition by defining a Unique Selling Proposition. That means you should choose a differentiation strategy.

Think of what distinguishes your app from the others. Is it privacy-oriented? Eco-friendly? Does have a better user interface; greater documentation and support?

You should pursue your mobile application idea even when it already exists. Because it is likely you can do better than the others.

No idea what your unique selling proposition would be? Read on and I'll explain how to get to it. It's easier than you think.

Try Not To Fight The Big Guys

Do not try to compete with apps produced by the tech giants. Especially not when you are getting started. They own their space. Time to own yours.

The trick is to be innovative with your concept, the development and communication of it. I've seen it time and time again. From toothbrushes to social media; the success is all in the differentiation.

An original app idea is great, but not a recipe for success. The fact that your mobile app idea exists indicates you're on to something!

Define What You Mean With 'Successful'

Before you start with anything: define your goal. What will make the app successful? Is it when it brings you a steady, passive income? Or should it bring in enough money to support your 20+ employee company?

It's going to be a lot harder to do the latter in a competitive space.

You’ll have to define what your mobile app’s success looks like. You can do this with simple metrics like ‘amount of paying customers’.

Market Positioning Your Application

Your market position is where your product fits in the brain of your customer.

"LinkedIn" takes up a different part of your brain than when I say "Facebook". Yet, they are very similar platforms. That is positioning.

Your visual brand and what you communicate to the potential customers influence your position. (Also what other people say about you.)

One way to reserve that space is with communicating a Unique Selling Proposition.

Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your USP informs the potential customer what distinguishes you from the competitor.

This does NOT have to be a unique feature of your app.

You can see this with the chat-app Telegram. They were one of the firsts to claim privacy-focused, end-to-end encrypted messaging.

People flock to Telegram for that same reason. "It's more secure" they say. But did you know Whatsapp also has end-to-end encryption? (Okay, okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Leave the explanation in the comments.)

To find your USP, find an attribute of your app that you can communicate to your potential customer.

Big trending topics of the future you could focus on are:

  1. Privacy-oriented
  2. Decentralised
  3. Artifical Intelligence Driven
  4. Machine Learning
  5. Apple's App Clips
  6. Progressive Web Apps
  7. Voice Assistance
  8. IoT integration
  9. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

(More ideas? Comment it and I’ll add it to the list with your name and website.)

Differentiation Techniques for Apps

Here are some examples of how your can differentiate your app:

  • Find a completely different target group with the same need. Be a “Linkedin for …” or “Uber for …”.
  • Find a positive feature of your product that your competitor does not advertise. It can be anything. I remember a beer brand that touted they used 'only local, high quality grains'. (Most beer manufacturers do that!)
  • Find a more creative way to promote the app. For example, the company OnePlus their first couple of phones were on invite only. It was an exclusivity strategy that worked well for them.
  • Overhaul the experience of the software with unexpected colour schemes, copy or attitude. Dropbox differentiated themselves from their many clones with a playful, artsy-feeling rebrand.
  • Create a personality or mascot for the application to differentiate yourself. Very much like Kanban board software Trello uses their husky mascot in their brand.

Communicate Your USP

Once you have found your differentation strategy it's time to start communicating it. The first step is to write an elevator pitch.

A elevator pitch helps you in many ways. The top reasons are:

  • It forces you to think deeply about your app idea.
  • It helps gain clarity of ‘the why’ for you and your team.
  • Your customer’s perspective gets clearer, more accurate.
  • It helps to focus and zone in your communication efforts.

You can use the template below or create your own. An elevator pitch should include, at least:

  1. The product name and category,
  2. the target group and need you’re satisfying,
  3. the proposed way to meet that need,
  4. the key benefit of that method.


We have developed a new social media app called My Little Circles [1. Category & Product name]. It is made for lovers of crafts that want to create their own little, social communities [2. Target group / Need]. We allow the users to create and moderate their own private social media platforms [3. Proposed Solution]. It only takes 5 minutes to set up, no need to mess with complicated hosted websites or rely on Facebook Groups [4. key benefit]!

Pro Tip: Start with a Minimal Viable Product

Do not get too excited and start building a complete mobile app. You might want to try to test the viability of your concept first.

Here is what I would do:

  1. Facilitate a focus group, talk about the need, your idea and learn from the discussion.
  2. Take these learnings and define features (not only functions) the app should have.
  3. Sketch out the application and see how it all fits together.
  4. Rigorously test a prototype with your target group. Is this what they expect? (I write about the importance of a prototype here.)

Keep working on the idea if the results are positive. When they are not or you hear: "Why not just use (blank)?" Reconsider the idea.

This all before even putting down any effort in design or code. Money well saved, I'd say.

Your app does not have to be unique. It has to be unique in the mind of your potential customer. Your USP will help you communicate that distinction. Before you know it, you app is successful – even with thousands of alternatives.

What are some ideas you had that turned out already existing?