In the 1980s, Target and Walmart were essentially the same type of store. Today, these retailers are known as, respectively, the yoga mom’s preferred chain store and Sam Walton’s discount juggernaut, but these connotations are fairly recent. These two chains were once almost indistinguishable from one another–and barely unique among dozens of other large, discount retailers. Now Target is considered the McMansion to Walmart’s manufactured home; while Walmart is seen as the unpretentious alternative to Target’s snooty aesthetic. We know how they did it, but why did they need to rebrand

To rise above the competition, it’s essential distinguish your brand from your competitors. As you might have heard in high school, “You are special, just like everybody else.” Your brand is different in your own mind because, well, it’s yours: like any parent, you think your child is unique. However, Consumers need a reason to choose your brand over the competition. This is easier if your products are slightly different. When choosing Tylenol or Advil for example, Consumers are actually comparing different medications (Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen, respectively) and not just two brands selling identical (or virtually identical) products.

Pepsi and Coke both sell carbonated beverages, but their core original colas (Pepsi and Coca-Cola Classic) are distinguished only slightly by flavor. They base their marketing now primarily on the images and feelings associated with their brands: Coke focuses on nostalgia and quality; Pepsi focuses on youth and novelty.

But is branding the only thing that matters? No, actually. Branding is essential, but there are other factors that must be considered when trying to gain a competitive advantage. At the core of all these unique brands is one thing that pushed the envelope and has customers returning: a unique product, service, or experience. What your customer gets out of the transaction has to be substantial enough for them not only to return, but to choose you over the competition.

What makes someone choose a specific type of, say, skin care product over another? Quality, preference, and experience. As you can see, a ton of research is involved in this, including knowing your customer’s needs and inclinations. You need to make sure your product is top-notch, using all the best material and resources, then when it’s time to sell, you give your product a unique identity based on well-informed decisions. If you have determined what your customers want to purchase, then your branding can do the rest through innovative marketing.

If Walmart and Target never further defined what their companies’ branding was, they would have never found such success. You can see this with other major competitors such as Pepsi and Coke, Starbucks and Peet’s, CVS and Walgreens, and more. By differentiating themselves from their competition, they each appeal to their desired customer. They are all special, it’s true; but they are also special in a unique way. It could be product, image, or customer experience.

As with a teenager defining his/her own style, you might encounter some growing pains as you craft your branding. You may try out a few different personas, but in the end you will discover who your brand truly is. To be successful in marketing, you must understand your brands on every level. That is where we come in. Let us use our experience and expertise to help you with any questions you have regarding your brand’s identity. We can guide you through branding, marketing, and more.

Are you ready to get started? We can help you define your brand’s voice and broadcast it to the masses. At StartUp TakeOff, we understand the value of a strong team. We also know that finding the right people can be nerve-wracking and time-consuming, so we made it easy for our Clients. Choosing the wrong partners can be a costly misstep for any entrepreneur, which is why StartUp TakeOff’s founder, Stefani Thionnet, has assembled a diverse group of marketing experts from across the industry who will provide you with solutions that save you time and money. Our team of marketing industry veterans will get to know you and your brand so that we can provide solutions perfectly tailored to your needs. The best people often strike out on their own, but we’ve brought them together to get results you will love.

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