Creating a brand that has real value to your business involves looking both inward and outward. Your brand should authentically reflect your unique capabilities and strengths. And it should stand out as distinct and different from your competitors.

Think about how you might persuade a potential client of the difference between you and your competitors. Try to define and defend how you’re unique based on your answers to the questions below.

Here’s how to use marketplace research to create a brand that really stands out.

How Understanding Your Competition Can Help You Create a More Valuable Brand

Who are your direct and closest competitors? 

Start by creating a list of other businesses in the same category, specialty, location, etc. In some industries, there are a lot of very close competitors, if you’re doing something new and innovative there may be fewer.

Who are your indirect competitors? 

Indirect competitors may not be in your same category, but they still siphon off your customers. For example, restaurants are also competing with grocery stores or meal kit services.

How are you different from these competitors? 

You may be bigger or smaller; premium or more basic. You may offer slightly different services or your product may have different features.

For example, if you run a yoga studio in a big city there are many ways you could differentiate yourself including location, price, membership options, ambience, the type(s) of yoga you teach, etc.

What are people saying about your competitors that could be used to build your brand? 

By talking (both face-to-face and virtually) to your potential clients you can learn what pains are still being felt and not addressed by those in the marketplace already. This is a great way to use social media tools to help you recognize an opportunity. 

What differentiators are most important or distinct?

You’re likely different in several different ways. Also, you may be distinct in different ways compared to different competitors.

For example, your yoga studio might be smaller than your largest competitors but bigger than others. In that case, you might try  focusing on why being ‘midsize’ is best. Or, you may want to choose a more clear differentiator. Maybe, compared to all of your competitors, your instructors have more experience or that your studio focuses on only one style of yoga.

Focus on strengths that fit with the opportunities in your market

Anyone doing research on starting a business should carefully examine the marketplace for an opportunity. You may have done this type of exercise to write a business plan. 

However, many business owners then set aside all that research when they work to build their own branded identities. Instead, use it to help you build a successful brand.

With any product or service, there are different features and benefits that you can emphasize when you build your brand or market your business. Going back to our yoga studio example, you might see that very few of your competitors offer a wide range of yoga styles. This variety may be appealing to customers. But is that something you really can offer? Do you have instructors trained in a wide variety of specialties? If not, choose a different differentiator to focus on. 

For many retail businesses, their location simply makes them a more convenient choice than any other competitor. For coaches and consultants, it is usually your individual expertise and personality that sets you apart.

Your goal is to find something that no one else can do quite as well as you can.

Branding Compass can help you review your competitors

Branding Compass will guide you through listing and reviewing your competitors. You’ll have one place where you can look at them together and review your most important differentiators.

Get started with Branding Compass.