May 6, 2011
When it comes to branding your business, simply basing it on your company is not enough. You have to consider the competition. Not only does your brand have to be about the things you are best at, you have to make the focus of your brand the one thing that separates you from the competition.
Consider how large brands are always campaigning on what separates them from the competition. That difference becomes part of their brand. American Apparel became known as the company that made its clothes in the United States while most large chains imported their merchandise. That one thing that differentiated their clothing became their brand. Southwest Airlines’ current marketing campaign is based around their free baggage policy while their competitors are charging for two or even one bag. That one thing that separates Southwest from the competition has become the focus of their brand.
When building your own company’s brand, you have to consider your competitors’ brands. Let’s say you are a clothing company. Focusing on the fact that your clothes are made in the USA will not get you anywhere when there are larger brands with larger followings already using that. You need to stand out from the competition.
What does your competition do best? Can you beat that? If you can’t, is there something you specifically do better than the competition? Perhaps you are a paper company. Saying you have the lowest prices will put you out of business and saying that you customize all packages does not separate you from all of the other paper companies that offer custom orders. If your paper was 100% recycled or you planted a tree for every paper order you got – you have yourself something that separates you from the competition in an otherwise bland and competitive niche.
Your brand is also your message. Your message is a) the way your business is better or different from the rest and b) the one thing that the consumer can take away after being introduced to your brand. If your message is similar to a competitor’s (e.g. if Duracell used the slogan “It keeps running, and running, and running to compete with Energizer) it will not do you any favors. Your message has to make you stand out as a brand that should be noticed. A brand that is different.
Your message should always be your focus. Your focus should always separate you from the competition.
The web allows you a vast amount of tools to research your competition. There is no better tool, however, than the social web. The social web allows customers to offer instant feedback on products. If you research what your competitors’ customers are saying you will quickly be able to see their weaknesses. Voluntary customer reviews online tend to be brutally honest. Find the one thing that your competitors’ customers are unhappy with and make that the focus of your brand.
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