10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Branding
Knowledge is power. This time-old motto holds true in every aspect of life, but even more so when applied to the world of Branding. Especially today, Branding agencies must absolutely capture as much information, data and knowledge as possible before even thinking to push any production towards their clients or markets. In that context, one might need to research what are the most efficient ways to capture market intel. One surefire way to gather maximized volumes of information is to broaden your scope of interest outside of your own sphere of influence. In other words: start looking at what your competitors are doing. This will exponentially multiply your market knowledge, compared to a purely self-centered company.
Competitive monitoring still remains counter-intuitive to most marketers and brand designers, as some of them are quick to sound the trumpets of “why should we look at what X is doing? We don´t have the same client base, we have a much more refined tone of voice, our visual identity is nothing like theirs, we are better than them anyway…” We highly recommend you to get past this type of knee-jerk reaction and dare yourself to fully monitor what is being done by other players around you.
Here is what YOU have to learn from a complete, honest competitive monitoring, branding wise:
1) Know what works
Turn a competitor´s success into good news for yourself as well by analyzing their concepts and getting inspired by their success stories. Knowing what are the Branding constituents of leading brands and/or products on your marketplace will indirectly give you inspiring fuel for your next Branding projects. Warning: don´t bluntly copycat. We know it is tempting but please refrain from trying to merely adapt other´s concepts to your products. Remember: it is key that your brand´s DNA remains intact and unique. Always.
2) Know what doesn´t work
Same thing applies here, you can also turn your competitors failed initiatives as a personal lesson. This is possibly the most powerful element of competitive monitoring, as far as Branding is concerned: when properly and consistently done, you will avoid repeating the mistakes done by others and save a lot of time, money and energy.
3) Product scaling
Based on the first two points, competitive analysis will naturally give you a clear indication or at least a strong feeling about the true market potential of your own Brand. knowing the market share of a competitor´s product will help you decide if you should go for either an upscale or a more “local” approach for your next project.
4) Investment estimates
It is always hard to determine how much you should be investing in your marketing and branding efforts. If you decide to attack the market completely blind and without observing what other players are doing one of two things will happen: you could 1) underspend and look like you don´t belong in the mix, hurting your image in the process or 2) overspend and waste money for results that could have been attained more efficiently. Looking at your competitors´ activity will give you a good ballpark figure of what you need to be doing to attract customers and what will be overkill.
5) Keeping updated
This is paramount. Competitive Brand monitoring will allow you to stay up to par with your industry´s visual standards and, most and foremost, will avoid your brand to be outdated in the consumer´s eyes. For example, have you noticed that Pepsi undergoes major design changes shortly after Coca-Cola does, and vice-versa? This is branding monitoring at its finest: those two competitors are constantly jockeying for Branding advantage and will never let the other look better without fighting.
6) Potential segmentation
Monitoring competition will help you map the market coverage of your competitors in terms of market segments. This exercise will force you to naturally design your branding towards those segments that aren´t sufficiently catered for, or not at all. Spot those gaps and niches, fill them strategically and see the positive results pour in. Dare yourself and your Brand to become a leader and not a follower if you sense there is an under-utilized target.
7) Optimized pricing and perceived value
Price range is an important part of Branding. How expensive and luxurious do you want your Brand to appear on the market? Look at your marketplace and see if competitors tend to push their products as the cheap alternative or if they are going for a premium look. This part needs to be combined with a strong consumer surveying system, to correlate your competitive monitoring with what is actually requested by the market.
8) Direct consumer feedback
Looking at your competition also means getting to know what their own consumers think. Browsing through social media or product reviews in particular is probably the more insightful source of information you could ever lay your eyes on as it represents unfiltered, raw feedback on your competitors’ brands, straight from the market. Priceless! Branding wise, you will definitely find a few gems of information if your regularly scout your competitors online interaction with their customers.
Brandwatch developed a really cool tool allowing you to listen to virtually all comments being made online about your competitors. Learn more here: https://www.brandwatch.com/brandwatch-analytics/
9) Campaign visual planning
Looking at how and where your competitors deploy their marketing campaigns will also give you a strong hint as per where your brand should be appearing (OOH, Television, Social Media, In Store activation…). Nothing better for a brand designer to know where its creations are going to materialize, as it allows to prepare different style of designs.
10) Know who you are
We wanted to conclude with the single most valuable return you will get from a thorough competitive monitoring. The most important thing that your competitors will teach you is how unique you are. Branding means giving your brand a personality right? So, by opening yourself to the world of brands around you, you will be more likely to understand what makes your products and brand powerful and unique.