How do organizations reconcile the cross-pressures of conformity and differentiation? Existing research predominantly conceptualizes identity as something an organization has by virtue of the products or services it offers. Drawing on constructivist theories, we argue that identity is also dynamically produced through organizational members’ interactions with external audiences. We term the extent to which such interactions diverge from audience expectations performative atypicality. Applying a novel deep-learning method to conversational text in over 90,000 earnings calls, we find that performative atypicality leads to an evaluation premium by securities analysts, paradoxically resulting in a negative earnings surprise. Moreover, performances that correspond to those of celebrated innovators are received with higher enthusiasm. Our findings suggest that firms that conform to categorical expectations while being performatively atypical can navigate the conflicting demands of similarity and uniqueness, especially if they hew to popular notions of being different.