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Brand Management

5 Keys To Understanding Your Brand’s Competition

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5 Keys To Understanding Your Brand’s Competition

As a brand strategist, a favorite part of any presentation I give to clients is a section on their brand’s competitors. What’s surprising though is how intrigued clients are by the findings. So often, competitive analysis is treated as a luxury when it should be a continuous activity. And because the analysis is designed to help future sales, it gets put on the back burner (or handed off to an agency) as there’s only so much time in a quarter and “we have to make our numbers.”

We have said many times here on Branding Strategy Insider that strategy is not about the competition, but that doesn’t mean one can ignore what’s going on in the market. As Jack Trout observed, “the key to survival is to start every marketing plan with your competition in mind. It’s not what you want to do; it’s what your competition will let you do.”

There are different strategies for dealing with your competition that depend on whether your brand is a global player, niche, cult or challenger. Obviously, every brand wants to at the intersection of what customers want and what your brand does best. If you’re there, you’ve got a differentiated position that is capturing demand. But your competitors will notice your success and eventually most will begin to copy what you’re doing, which puts that differentiation at risk.

When conducting a competitive analysis with an emphasis on brand messaging, and presenting to your team, put these five keys on a slide for each competitor and let it spark discussion and debate.

1. Key Terms: What 25-35 keywords do you see over and over again on your competitor’s website, advertising, and annual report. This publicly searchable information should be easy to find. Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter or nurture programs and try to gain insight into the experience customers have, and more importantly, how they are being messaged to.

2. Grand Statements Or Claims: These will be the terms your competition is trying to use to position themselves as differentiated winners.

3. Verbatims: Copy some statements from the material you’re analyzing. While the website is usually a good place to start, it’s not the only valuable source. Quotes from the CEO or other executives that might appear in annual reports, in the press or on social media can add more color and context in how your competitors are telling their brand story.

4. Snapshot Of Market Dynamics: Include a brief summary of anything happening in the industry and how your competitor’s share price has been doing in the last 6 months to a year. There are more rigorous ways to do this sort of analysis that are certainly beneficial, but those take more than a single slide.

5. Analyst Observations: Are there any third-party claims or perspectives you should keep in mind? Have your competitors been named “provider of the year” or included on a highly respected “Top 10” list? If so, be sure to include this information as it will be helpful in socializing the analysis.

Competitive analysis in all of its forms is an honest self-assessment of who and what are the alternatives to the value you are creating. Further, it can reveal important insight on where you can find your brand’s next strengths.

What other keys to a competitive analysis do you consider valuable? Do you summarize them on slides or present them a different way? Tell us.

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1 Comment

Brian Avenius on February 20th, 2019 said

This is great and I’d suggest we also consider competition outside our own categories where it makes sense. When I worked with Jameson, our competition was rarely another Irish Whiskey – it was a premium, authentic, smooth whiskey experience the drinker sought at that moment. For the Bronx Zoo, our competition wasn’t other zoos, it was other places and ways in which people considered spending their leisure time and entertainment budget.

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