STICK TO YOUR BRAND GUNS
It’s often easy to look at what competitors are doing and say to yourself “they look like they’re doing better than me.” This can lead to the next logical step of finding out what they are doing and copy it. Emulating their practices may seem like a good path for similar success, but it never produces the same results.
Ever heard of the Microsoft MP3 player Zune? Well it’s an emulation failure object lesson. The Zune was actually a good quality product backed with Microsoft’s resources. However, sales were not good. It was pretty much a copy of the iPod and many Zune owners rated it better than the iPod. So why did it flop?
Don’t Abort the Mission
We can go into the details of failed marketing and timing, but the biggest reason is Microsoft did not stick to its brand. Microsoft says “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Is copying a popular product achieving more?
The public didn’t think so. And neither will your customers if you reproduce a popular offering from your competitor. After a failed attempt to take down Coca-Cola with a competing beverage, Richard Branson said he learned you can’t just put out a product that is slightly better. You have to deliver something new and different. That something new and different is a product guided by your brand principles. Chances are you don’t have the same mission, vision and values as your competitor, which will make your product unique.
Serve Your Targets
If you are serving customers by making car buying fun, then you should have a very different experience from your more traditional car dealerships. Any product you choose to sell, will look different because it was first processed through the lens of making car buying fun. On the other hand, if you copied a competitor’s offering exactly, it would dilute your brand and make you less unique.
Releasing a new product while sticking to your brand will ensure it is tailored to your target audience. After all, you serve a unique section of the public and they don’t want copies from you. They want your style of product. Adding in different products or ideas that don’t match your brand, will confuse your customers and weaken your value.
It is always best to stick to your brand. Even if that means letting other companies own a product that looks cool or sells extremely well. Make sure every product, service and offering lives up to your brand principles and your target customers will not leave you. As long as your brand solves a problem, you will be needed.