When it comes to building a strong business you won’t be able to position yourself without conducting thorough research into the competition. Your brand strategy needs to be stress-tested against rivals in order to confirm it is unique. You need to establish what’s in the market, what’s working and what isn’t and understand how your audience is responding in order to set yourself apart.
So, here is our five step guide to carrying out a successful competitor audit.
1. Start close to home
If you don’t carefully analyse your own brand you won’t have the full scope of what others are doing differently. Examine the core elements of your brand – your website, sales collateral, presentations – and work out what should stay and what can go. That way you’ll know what you’ve got to work with.
2. Look to the future
Consider where your company is heading in the next few years. Are you planning to launch new services? Develop any new products? Open an office overseas? The competitors you face today will change tomorrow. Keep these questions top of mind to ensure you capture everyone in your net.
3. Break it all down
When it comes to breaking down a rival brand, separate out all of the assets to analyse them more closely.
- Which touchpoint demonstrates their brand best?
- Which asset best illustrates their visual identity?
- Where do they best demonstrate their verbal language?
There are countless places a brand can show up, from logo and tagline to packaging, products and brochure via sales literature, ad campaigns, websites and apps. Ensure you are covering them all in your analysis.
4. Go both verbal and visual
Consider the brand from both verbal and visual angles: a brand may appear on the surface to lack good visual design, but their tone of voice can be quite powerful and hit the mark with audiences.
Examine both the top line messaging across a brand as well as the overall style.
- Is it consistent, relatable or ownable?
- Is it passive or proactive?
- Who is the primary target audience?
- If their brand was a person, what sort of personality do they have?
This refers to everything from logos, colours and typography to iconography, imagery and video.
- What grabs your attention?
- What feeling does it give off?
- Is it consistent?
- Is it unique?
5. Examine the final picture
Once you’ve interrogated all the assets, match them up against each other and add yourself into the mix to see where you sit and where the white space is. This process is called brand segmentation.
A few things to think about as you do this final step…
- What area/s is each competitor trying to own?
- How much does their brand tie into this?
- Does their messaging convey their positioning consistently?
- How does the overall experience of their brand support this?
Once you’ve got this down on paper, you’ll have a clear and objective understanding of not just the competition, but also your own strengths and weaknesses. You can then use this to create a unique brand positioning. Because the truth is if you don’t know what your competition is doing today, how are you supposed to know what to do tomorrow?