Developing your Brand: Don’t forget the Competition!

Posted by on September 10, 2008 in Business Management, Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

Welcome to the second in a three-part series on how to develop your brand.

In the first posting we talked about how important (and smart) it is to capture the investment of time and money you have put in your company by developing a brand that will build equity for you and your business.  We learned about the importance of developing your brand from within and reviewed some exercises to help you define your true differentiators by looking at the inside first.

Now, we look to the outside world to learn how the competition can influence our brand.  When researching the competition look at their business and how they speak to the world. This will help you gain deeper insights into how to make your brand stronger. To analyze the competition follow these four easy steps:

  1. First, choose 3-5 direct competitors.  If you don’t have that many in your market then look to another city or country and find a competitor there – even if you never plan on expanding to that area.
  2. Scour your competitor’s website and learn about their products, services and what they are emphasizing.  Note the type of photography they use (people, nature, etc.) and their colors (primary, bright, conservative, funky and so on). If your competitor is a publicly traded company search engines like Google Finance can give you great insight into how your competitor’s company is structured.
  3. Note factual details: price, selection, distribution, service delivery and so on.  In the case of a services-based business look at methodology, customer base, geographic reach.
  4. Then, start to note the language they use – “fastest”, “best quality”, “luxury”, “softest”, “tastiest” – whatever it is. You will find that all your competitors speak the same way. Note these similar phrases and descriptive words.

If you feel you don’t have any competition then think about a time when you will be very successful and list the companies you know will want to become your competition.  Repeat the fours steps for them.

In summary this research is:

  • A definition of your brand that was articulated by your culture and who you truly are (Step 1),
  • A picture of your competition – what types of images and colors they are using, overall do they look clean and sophisticated or crowded and confusing,
  • A summary of what they offer and how they offer it, and
  • A list of the standard phrases and wording used by your competition.

Use this wealth of knowledge to see how your organization IS different from the rest.  If done right, when you layout all this information before you the answer should jump right out at you.

If your competition is talking about luxury, quality and craftsmanship then you should use other words like elite or best-in-class, care, attention-to-detail, and skill.  Be certain to stick to a vocabulary that feels like the right fit for your organization.

It is shocking sometimes how little knowledge some companies have about their competition.  A deeper review of your competition and who you are will build a strong and differentiated brand.  If done with care and focus, how you present yourself to the outside world (your brand) will be both different than the rest (the competition) and a true reflection of what you are on the inside.  When you have this outside-inside match you build trust with your customer and that breeds success!

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