The importance of sizing up the other guys

Carving out space in the market is a must for any brand starting out or undergoing transformation, especially those looking to disrupt. We share our thoughts about the competitive lens to take.

So you’re one of the blessed people whose ‘good idea’ actually turned out to be a winner. There’s no doubt that if you’ve made it this far, you’ve sussed out what else may exist in the market. You’ve done the digging necessary to at the very least confirm ‘Nope, no one else is offering this exact thing I’ve dreamt up’, and at the same time have an understanding of the consumer who’s going to want this product/service or the trend that the idea will stick to with zeal. This research was necessary in confirming that you had not accidentally ripped off another idea that already exists and to help confirm the final form of your product/service.

When new brands or companies looking for a rebrand come to us, we conduct a competitive analysis of our own. This is a very important exercise if we’ve been tasked with any number of things from web design, logo design, positioning, campaign ideation, or messaging. Sure, doing this is great for the client – we’re going to roll up our sleeves and take a thorough look at all manner of competition and we’re going to apply our marketing lens to it, offering great insights to you, and shining light on opportunities or challenges we foresee you encountering, but it’s a very important exercise to conduct for our own purposes as well.

Working with a variety of businesses and startups, we encounter a vast number of industries – blockchain, cannabis, pets, sex, food, tech – most of which we haven’t ourselves worked extensively in if at all. A competitive analysis gives us a better understanding of what’s happening in the industry, what the different offerings are in the market, and who the other players are. Fun fact, we recently worked on a rebrand for a sex shop. You can only imagine the fun (albeit N(always)SFW) stuff we came across that helped inform our recommendations. Having this information better informs and amplifies any suggestions we’re going to be making.

While you don’t want their activities to influence your brand too much, it’s important to look at your direct competitors – people with very similar offerings within the same industry (ie. the brands you’re creeping on the daily to see what they’re up to). We pay particularly close attention to their messaging and positioning, trying to understand the crux of what their mission is and the motive behind their vision. We do this to distill what their main differentiator is to help carve out a space in the market unique to your brand.

It’s also worthwhile to look beyond your direct competitors, at companies in adjacent industries. This will provide you with great examples of how other successful brands are talking to the audience you’ve set your sights on and what types of activities they’re using to capture their attention. This may also spurr ideas about directions for future growth. When distilling the many juicy tidbits of information and insights we’ve gleaned during our competitive analysis activities we often look to the concept of ‘blue oceans’ (ie. a space in the market that is uncontested and not bloodied by the competition in any way – red ocean. Fierce, we know) when the time comes to work on your brand’s positioning.

Especially given the fact that we frequently work with startups looking to disrupt, we’re trying to find the unaddressed pain points, missed conversations or opportunities, and unmet needs in the market and find overlap with your offering. We find ways to position you as a brand that can address those consumer needs, behaviours, and trends. While we definitely encourage not just you, but ourselves as well as to at least take one toe out of the ever-popular red ocean and dip it into the blue, it doesn’t hurt to always sleep with one eye open.