Taking the time to perform a brand analysis on your competitors will give you a unique insight into your industry.
Essentially, it gives you the inside scoop into what your competitors are doing, so that you can do it even better.
By knowing their strengths and weaknesses, you can start to understand your competitor’s brand strategy which is golden. With this information, you can work out where you fit in, and most importantly, how you can stand out.
Let’s begin by asking that all-important question…
Who are your Competitors?
We won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting Googling your own industry – we know that you know your main competitors in the marketplace!
In fact, you’re probably already keeping an eye on them to make sure you’re not missing out on anything major.
However, whilst you might think you know your competitors already, have you considered alternate angles?
Stand alone marketers, this section (and this blog, generally) will be of great interest to you.
First up are your primary competitors.
These are companies who offer the same service or products, to the same target audience, in the same location, solving the same problem as you.
Basically, these businesses are your direct competition. They’re the people stealing your customers, and in turn, your profits …
Let’s take a look at some well-known examples:
Coca Cola vs Pepsi
EE vs O2
Morrison’s vs Tesco
JD vs Sports Direct
McDonalds vs Burger King
And the list goes on…
Now we come to your secondary competitors.
These are businesses offering the same or similar product or service to you in the same area, who are targeting a different audience, or serving a different purpose but with a potential overlap.
A secondary competitor to Brewdog would be a wine company, like Blossom Hill.
Totally different products, stocked on the same shelves, with a very different target market.
Blossom Hill wouldn’t be a direct competitor, but they could still take some of Brewdog’s business if their marketing convinced someone to go for a glass of vino over a craft beer that evening.
So, whilst the product offering is ever-so different, they’re still one to watch.
These are businesses who are providing products or services vaguely linked to your own, but they don’t really compete.
But if they don’t compete – why bother?
These are competitors that could become direct or indirect, if they ever decided to pivot.
This is essential to keep in the back of your mind (especially when you consider Covid 19), when many businesses are having to totally adapt their original business model to survive.
Don’t lose sleep over your tertiary competitors, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for any big changes or developments.
It’s good to keep in mind that in this digital age, companies can comfortably provide the exact service that you do, even if they’re 4000 miles away. So even if you don’t have global clients yet – you most definitely have global competitors.
How Do You Identify Your Competition?
Google is the obvious starting point.
Try searching your own brand in a couple of different search engines and see what other companies come up in the ‘People also search for…’ section.
Utilise your industry knowledge and contacts, connect with your competitors, and see who they connect with also.
Make an effort to stay active on platforms such as LinkedIn to connect and network with industry experts across the globe.
Searching hashtags that relate to your industry; see what is being posted, liked, commented on and discussed. Join in the conversation to stay relevant and up to date on current industry affairs.
On a more technical, slightly less stalk-y level, performing a keyword-based brand analysis will show you which competitors are driving the most traffic for the keywords that you also target, or the top keywords in the industry.
There’s loads out there to choose from, including Similar Web.
Analysing your Competitors Brand Strategy
Without donning Potter’s invisibility cloak and hiding in their boardroom, it can be notoriously difficult to analyse a competitors brand strategy without any insider knowledge.
Keeping tabs on both their on and offline activity is pretty much the only way to show you what moves they’re making.
Compare your competitors’ current offering to what they’ve done in the past. Does it align or have they taken things in a new direction? And has this prompted a good response from consumers or press?
Examine everything you can, from their pricing strategy to their social media campaigns to the types of blogs they post.
What services and products do they offer? Is it something new to the market, or have they stripped things back? Have they left any clues to where the market is heading that you hadn’t noticed before?
It can be easy to take a dim view on your competitors, but this doesn’t have to be Gryffindor Vs. Slytherin people!
Be honest with yourself about brand competitors strengths as well as their weaknesses.
Are they smashing you out of the park on Instagram at the moment? Check out what works for them, and take inspiration.
Knowing what areas your competitors are excelling in is a good thing, as it means you can take this knowledge and make it work for your own business.
Or, do something better!
Your competition dominating one area of the market doesn’t mean that you should necessarily copy to try and overtake.
Consider if there’s a more creative way you can top what they’re doing, or focus and capitalise on an area that they have missed?
If they offer the same service as you, and their messaging tells customers what they do, why not tell your customers why you do it, and see if you can provoke a better response.
“I’m a divorce lawyer” tells people what you do.
“Making divorce as pain-free as possible” sells the benefit of what you do, and is way more emotive.
Emotions, stories, and sex sell. Selling sex as a divorce laywer probably isn’t going to cut it – but you get my point!
Emote, emote, emote.
Profiling Your Competitors Brand Identity
First things first, have you seen their products or experienced their service first hand? Can you get hold of any physical assets to have a closer look at what they’re doing?
From here, you can decide how you fit in. Or more importantly, how you stand out.
So, let’s start with the basics;
What colours are they using?
What does their logo and branded material look like?
Is it impressive, does it fail to capture the imagination?
Consider the answers to all of these points about your competitors and your own business, you’ll be able to define where your competitors position themselves in the market.
Start with, what message are they trying to send?
If they’ve gone down the eco friendly route, this is a chance for your brand to shout about how super speedy and efficiently you get things done.
Eco-friendly branding can have connotations of not being as fast and on the button as the industry standard, as people naturally assume that something has been substituted, or the price point is higher.
If their identity means they target part of the market that you miss out on, and you want to do something about it, you’ve got 2 options:
Define your target market so intensely that you become the go-to option
Widen your approach and offer something to grab the attention of their audience as well.
Brand identity is everything for a good first impression. Remember, you only get one chance!
If your main competitor has super slick branding with a strong identity and they’re scooping up new business that could be yours, consider pushing a new ad campaign, or even going for a brand refresh.
Sometimes giving your branding a little TLC is all it needs!
Why not consider auditing your brand to decide on the right route forward? This allows you to take stock of everything to identify what works against what doesn’t.
In turn, this will generate fresh interest and get you back up where you belong in the marketplace: ahead of your competitors.
Analysing your Competitors Website
When conducting brand competitor analysis, your first port of call should always be their website.
If they sell physical products online, order one (or ask a friend to…they might be researching you too!)
This will let you compare:
Web customer service
Also, how are they ranking on search engines?
Obviously, Google is king, but it’s worth searching them in various search engines to see where they land in each.
Just as your own customer profiles are super important, it’s also worth getting an idea of your competitors’ customer behaviour.
You can do this checking out keywords they’re targeting, to gain that competitive edge. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush and Moz are a great place to start.
We’ve already mentioned Similar Web and their tool will tell you the global rank, country rank and a graph with weekly visitors of a site just from putting in your brand competitors URL. Simples!
Flip things around and see if your brand competitors are checking you out too by using a tracking assistant such as Who Is.
Should I be Looking at my Competitors Paid Digital?
If you’re going to be using paid traffic, keeping an eye on your brand competitors should be a fundamental part of your brand analysis strategy.
Online tools like WhatRunsWhere will help you find out what other brands similar to your own are doing with their online advertising, what their user engagement is like, what kind of ads they’re creating and where they’re running them.
Here’s a tip:
Searching your own brand name in Google can show you which of your competitors are paying for which ads.
Focus on what messaging they’re using in their paid digital. Do their most popular ads all start with a question that they then solve in the body of the text, or do they just put themselves straight out there?
Take notice of the language they’re using in Google and Facebook Ads. Who are they writing for, what are they trying to achieve with their ads?
This can help you get a judge of what already works, and what doesn’t.
If you notice an advert has been running for a while, the chances are it works well. Can you create your own version?
All of this information will tell you who they’re trying to target.
Looking into your Competitors Organic Digital
Keeping an eye on the opposition’s social media is a given! We know this ain’t your first rodeo.
As well as signing up to their email alerts and newsletters, you can utilise tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to notify you of all relevant posts from their social platforms, saving you the hassle of trawling through their posts on your Insta account.
You need to look at what they are posting on social media, and what you can tell about their strategy from this.
For example, do they mix up self promotion with informal posts to build a relationship with the people consuming their content?
Are they posting a lot of infographics, text, or videos?
Pay close attention to these things, and it could highlight opportunities for you to utilise on your own social channels.
Alternatively, it could also highlight some types of content to steer away from. For instance, if text-heavy posts are falling flat, this indicates the audience don’t enjoy consuming this particular type of content.
So, either way, looking at your competitor’s social media is a useful exercise.
When analysing how your competitors use their social media, look out for:
Strengthening their brand personality?
From just a quick flick through their social media, you can see:
Their levels of engagement
What content goes down well, and what bombed
As well as watching how they run their social campaigns, keep an eye on how they interact with their customers online.
If you do a quick Twitter search, do you find people complaining your brand competitors are difficult to get in touch with? Or do they utilise this platform for an easy way to manage their customer service.
If you do, then maybe it’s worth building an easy to use contact page on your website. Take the popular complaints, and flip them to your advantage.
Get inspired by something you could work into your own online strategy, or find out where they’re falling short. Is there a point where you can step in?
Are Your Competitors Still Using Traditional Offline Marketing?
It’s easy to get consumed in all things digital, but it’s important to check out if your competition are also using more traditional marketing methods as well.
Is it enhancing their brand or service, or keeping them stuck in the past?
Are they using offline marketing to promote the same message, or is this how they target a separate audience with a different message? For example, maybe their running billboard advertising.
It’s not the rule, but traditional marketing methods are often implemented when aiming a message to older audiences.
Could you use offline marketing to go one step further with part of your target audience, advertise in your local paper for a same day collection service for certain areas?
Think outside the box – this isn’t just about leaflets through letterboxes.
Holding and attending networking events is a great way to not only keep an eye on your competition, but you can get to know them too. If you see they’re taking part in industry events – show your face too!
Have your brand competitors pulled any PR stunts to get in the press, or an offline marketing campaign with the aim of it getting shared on social media by their customers?
Starbucks is a great example of this.
By implementing a process as simple as staff writing the customers name on their cup, it added a personal touch to the customer experience of buying their daily coffee.
But it’s not just that.
Starbucks knew that when they started this campaign, everybody would be snapping and posting photos of their cup, and even better if their name had a hilarious misspelling. Their logo would be all over everyone’s social media feeds.
It suddenly gave all those millennials who could never find their name on stuff in gift shops what they had been waiting for their whole lives.
You first need to identify who your competitors are and what their service/ product offering is.
You then need to analyse every part of their brand strategy including their marketing campaigns and pricing structure. You can use this information to spot gaps/ weakness which you can then take advantage of.
A competitive analysis should examine your competitors’ unique features, place in the market, pricing structure, marketing activities, differentiators, strengths and weaknesses, location, company culture, and customer reviews.
How to Perform a Brand Analysis on your Brand’s Competitors
Hey, it’s always good to know who you’re up against!
Now we’ve shown you how to do a competitor analysis, this research process will help you:
Become aware of your own strengths and weaknesses
Find new opportunities
Create a more informed and effective marketing plan
Remember, a lot of the information you collect will be based on investigation and guesswork. The only other option you have is investing in a research firm.
Don’t be afraid to put your brand analysis to good use. But don’t copy. Be authentic, originally, and wholly you. All of the research in the world shouldn’t stop you being yourself.
Found areas in your competitor’s marketing or branding that you’d like to take advantage of but need help? Get in touch with us here at Canny.
From Australia to America, we help brands connect with their customers in a way their competitors can’t.
Founder and Director
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