Every new brand, and every brand that decides it’s time for a rebrand starts with a case of writer’s block — staring at a nearly blank page, with only three unhelpful words at the top:
Who are we?
But why deal with the frustrating struggle to find originality when you can ask a different question:
Who else is like us?
It’s true; it’s incredibly valuable to compare yourself to brands that have already done the hard work and heavy lifting of becoming great at what they are. Why?
•You’ll instantly gain insights as to what your tone could be
•You can “borrow” from those other brands’ successful marketing playbooks
•By studying the history of other brands, you can hopefully avoid some of the growing pain-oriented mistakes they made
•Ultimately, you’ll have a North Star — a hero brand (or group of brands) to emulate, all along the way
So, here’s how you do it. Find a talented moderator who can guide a passionate group of decision makers through the exercise, let’s call it “Brands that remind us of us. And why?”
With an experienced moderator, you’ll be less likely to swallow your own Kool-Aid and get to really excellent, true — and deeper — answers. After all, I can just about guarantee every brand that tries this exercise will say a brand that reminds them of them will be “Apple.” And the “why” will be, because they’re highly innovative. Which, while it may be true, is a case in which you need to dig for gold, not just take the Mica that’s sitting on the surface.
Besides that pointer, there are four rules:
•Pick brands that are as far outside your category as possible. Really, abide by this one hard core and you’ll see how valuable it is
•Be sure they’re household names everyone understands. Resist the urge to name obscure local brands, your examples need to have relevance to everyone in your company
•You only have to come up with one “why” that brand reminds you of your brand — feel free to come up with more than one if you can/want, but you only need one
•Everyone has to agree with both the brand and the “why.”
You’ll know when someone’s shouted out a gem — it’ll be obvious to everyone in the room. And if you’re really good, and maybe just a little lucky, you’ll find a brand that’s so much like you, you’ll be able to say, “We could be the _____ (that brand) of _____ (your category).
In any event, go to school on every brand that makes the cut. Their origin stories, their founder’s histories, their high and low points, their competitors, everything. You’ll find your marketing creativity goes through the roof. And you’ll go from blank page, to best seller.
Be digestible. And thanks.