In our previous post we reviewed how to conduct informal competitive research on your competition. Now that you have completed your research, it is time to organize your data, properly assess your competition and implement changes to your branding elements in order to stand out in the marketplace.

Organizing Your Data And Assessing The Competition

Once you have collected enough information to form a clear picture of your competitors, it is important to begin ranking and rating them by price, services offered, and by your overall impression of how they rank in the marketplace (preferably by posing as an impartial potential customer). Be sure to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor and where your business ranks in comparison – would you choose your own business over a competitor, and why?

Are You At A Disadvantage?

You may discover through your research that your competitors are charging lower rates, or may be touting the superiority of their products and/or services in such a way that casts your business in a negative light. It is important not to make any immediate or drastic changes to your own business model or day-to-day operations – remember, this is informal research and it may be incorrect or incomplete. However, if you do discover that your business is at a significant competitive disadvantage, it may be necessary to hire a consultant and seek out additional research, information and advice.

The Power Of Branding

Once you have a clear idea of who your competition is, what they’re doing and their current branding, you are then empowered to make any necessary changes you need to make to your own branding, either by changing just a few elements or by implementing a complete rebrand of your business. It is important to ensure that your branding isn’t too similar to a competitor’s – even if you aren’t obviously sharing a branding element with a competitor, it is important to make sure that your branding is different and separate enough to really stand out in the marketplace, especially if it is a crowded one.

Similar Branding Elements

If you share an exact branding element with a competitor – the same color scheme, for instance, or a nearly identical logo or tagline – you could potentially be in violation of a trademark, and it is imperative that you investigate and proactively deal with that situation if a violation does in fact exist. Even if you’re not in violation of a trademark, similar branding elements could still be diluting the power of your own branding, which can lead to confusion and apathy among existing and potential clients and customers. If a potential client or customer confuses you with a competitor, or isn’t able to differentiate between your two companies, they have little to no motivation or incentive to specifically choose you.

Emphasize Your Strengths

In order to create powerful branding elements that positively differentiate your company from others, be sure to emphasize your advantages over your competitors and de-emphasize your weaknesses. If a competitor charges more for an identical product or service, emphasize your lower prices. If a competitor charges less, emphasize why a potential client or customer should look beyond price – do you offer superior service before and after the sale, or a wider selection of products and services? In order to stay competitive, your branding has to assist you in making the case that you are a better choice than your competition. By understanding your competitors, market and industry, you can ensure that your branding is unique, powerful and effective.