10 Things Your Competition Can Teach You About Branding

Let me guess...

  • You’re a new business owner trying to learn the ins and outs of small business management
  • You have been in business several years but just not seeing the return on investment you would like, or
  • You have good sales but are ready to engage a new target audience

...and you’ve heard about the importance of business branding.

Pause right there! I want to congratulate you on your business endeavor. CONGRATULATIONS! You amaze me, taking on all that comes with small business planning and management.

Okay, resume. Branding -  where do you start? Do you feel clueless when it comes to your business branding? Are you puzzled by all the components needed to create a simple, compelling brand? Do you question whether branding your business is even necessary? (Find out how to know when you're ready to invest in brand strategy.)

I get it. It’s a lot, especially when you aren’t a designer, brand strategist or marketer. But hey, that’s what friends (and your competitors) are for. To help you fill in the gaps and understand what you need to know + how to purposefully grow your business.

When it comes to branding your small business, you’ll probably want to dust off your old psychology books + get ready for some inner soul searching. You’ll need to get in the heads of your ideal clients, figure out their desires + needs. Answer their questions, offer solutions. Then, take a hard look at yourself. Who are you? What are your values? What do you want to offer? What drives + motivates you? Do these things align?

A lot of times you will have ideas which seem great to you yet won’t hook your audience. Branding is an art as much as it is a science. There’s a lot to learn from other businesses in your industry when it comes to branding. Who’s doing things well? Take a look at what they’re doing and how they’re making it work and use that to your advantage.


1) What To Do
Not sure what to do? Take a look at successful competitors for ideas on what actually works when it comes to branding for your target audience.

2) What Not To Do
Mistakes are always easier to identify than successes when it comes to competitor research. Finding out what a competitor is doing wrong is just as important as identifying what they are doing right. Look at the history of your competitors. You may see branding moves that were quickly changed, probably at a high cost to the competitor. Take note of these mistakes so you don’t end up making them too. Afterall, why make mistakes when your competitor is making them for you to learn from?

3) How to Create an Amazing Customer Experience
Learn where you need to head with your brand based on what works or doesn’t work for your competitors.  Branding is much more than visual design. A good brand creates an entire customer experience. It has a story. The brand’s voice, the overall content, + client process can make or break the customer experience. To figure out your desired customer experience, start by comparing the writing (your tone) on your website versus your competitors’ sites. How is it different in quantity, style, and tone? Do they provide a lot of detail? Is it too much? Is it written formally or casually, and how does that affect their personality and perception?  What feelings, images, smells do you want your audience to experience? How does your brand shape their experience compared to the experience they receive from your competition?

4) How Much to Invest
Are you puzzled by the wide range of branding services both in terms of price and service offerings? Are you fearful of unnecessarily spending money on your branding efforts? Are you worried about not investing enough and ending up with a less than effective brand? Looking at competitors can help alleviate these concerns + give you a good ballpark figure of what you need to be doing to attract customers and what will be an overkill.

5) Where You Can Find Your Customers
Where do your most successful competitors hang out? What outlets are they using to reach their target audience? When branding, it is very important to know exactly where your customers are most likely to be present.  Knowing what platforms your competitors use will give you a great idea about how you can reach your customers.  For more ideas on effective ways to get more clients, check out this post by Melyssa Griffin.

6) How to Interact with Your Audience
Audience interaction is key when it comes to customer service and building long-term loyalty among your audience. Does your competitor have a better relationship with their audience than you do with yours? Figure out why. Do they respond faster and solve customer problems better? Are their policies more customer-friendly? What social channels are they using to successfully reach their audience? Why does their particular brand resonate with their target audience?

7) What Customer Segments Need Your Expertise?
Look at the brands and companies who are catering to your ideal target audience. Instead of competing directly, look at who the competitors are not catering to. Is there a sub-niche you could serve?

8) How to Build Trust Through Consistency

Are your competitors trusted and respected in the industry? If so, what tactics are they using to build that trust?  Do they have a distinctive and easily recognizable brand voice? Do they present themselves in a consistent fashion across all their platforms?  Have they positioned themselves as an expert in the industry? To learn more about building trust among your target audience, check out these blogging tips.

9) Determining Your Price Range
Price range is an important part of branding. Is your product going to be a cheap alternative or a high-quality premium service or product? Look at what your competitors are offering then determine where you want to fall on the scale. Don’t forget that your ideal audience is the ultimate deciding factor here. What do they want + how can your brand speak to their desires?

10) What Makes You Unique
The most important thing that your competitors can teach you is how unique you are. Your brand should have a unique personality.  After all your research, you should have a pretty good idea of your brand’s competitors. Is your brand different enough to stand out?


Your competitors are likely at different stages in their development than you are. No matter where they are on their journey, your most successful competitors are the ones who have figured out how to engage your target audience. See what is working for them and adapt some ideas to match your unique brand, style + niche market.


Leave a reply and tell me which category you fit into. What have you learned from observing your competition? And, if you're ready to hire a designer to help your brand reach new heights, I encourage you to read up on my service.

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