There are business categories where one company has become dominant and every other product combined doesn’t equal it in market share. When that happens, it is often because all of the competitors are me-too companies. They’ve forgotten a very important rule of branding – differentiation. Instead of being a me-too, companies should create a counter-brand.
Counter-branding is all about identifying the characteristics of the market dominant product and being the opposite. Instead of copying the leader, provide a viable alternative.
Where do you begin:
- Who is the leader? Identify not just who they are but what they are all about. What makes them unique? What attracts consumers to them?
- What would the opposite be? Detail the characteristics that consumers would select if provided the option.
- How can the experience change? What about the process and the interaction can be changed? Not change for the sake of change but actual points of differentiation that provide an entirely different experience.
- Where can your marketing vary? With the product and the experience on a completely different level now you have to change the marketing. The message and media have to be different to make an impact.
Compare Mac and PC. Look at Coke and 7-Up. Now think about the other companies in your category. How are you different?
Me-too companies can’t build a brand. There is no way for them to build an emotional connection with the consumer – the leading competitor always has that bond. Look around and think about the duplicates in your town. How many frozen yogurt shops or dress shops or coffee shops or car dealers that are so similar when you are inside one you can’t tell the difference?
Take the lead from other Counter-Brands and find your version of the “Un-Cola” and “Be Different”.