I am always persistent about getting my brands differentiated. I have seen colleagues who sometimes want to do what competitors are doing so that their brands do not get left behind. These are good intentions, but can be very wrong sometimes.
Good brands get stronger by getting more and more differentiated (and relevant) as time progresses. Weak brands get less and less differentiated with time, as competitors copy their positioning, or as the category gets more cluttered. By getting less differentiated, a brand falls into the ‘being average’ trap.
The first thing to clarify is who are your competitors. A no brainer? You will be surprised at how brands sometimes fight against the wrong ‘competitors’, such as TV channels against each other, instead of vs. Youtube. Here are some tips for you:
1) Ask your consumers who they will consider if your brand is out of stock, or is suddenly priced double vs. before. Before they start buying your products, what other brands do they consume in place of your brand. When they shop for your brand, which other brands do they compare it with.
2) To get a more macro view of ‘other’ potential competitors, ask the consumers from the usage perspective. For all possible usage occasions for your brand, ask the consumers to list brands that they will consider, will buy, or are currently using.