To know your competitors is to outperform them.

To effectively manage a brand, you need to be on both the offense and defense. You need to understand potential risks to your company that could negatively affect the brand and know how to spot a brand-building opportunity when it comes across your desk. As a brand manager, one thing you should always be doing is keeping a tab on your competitors. Like a rival football team, you need to understand your oppositions’ plays: Study them to determine what move they’ll make next so you can get on top of it before they score. This exemplifies just how important it is to identify and know competitors.

Benchmarking your competition has other benefits, too, such as knowing their weak points and how you can fill in the gaps for their customers. Here are the top reasons to keep an eye on your competition:

Learn from their mistakes…

Your competition is vying for the same customers as you are, so if your competition does something to upset, alienate or anger customers, be sure to take note. You’ll want to avoid making the same mistakes. If it was something like a poorly thought out social media post, you can discuss with your social media team about why it was negatively received and steps to take to avoid making this mistake on your own social media profiles.

For larger issues (think BP oil spill), you’ll need to discuss your brand crisis communication plan with your team. Hopefully you already have this plan developed. If you do, you can review your plan and look for pitfalls—if any—in your plan. Keep an eye on how your competitor handles the situation and make note of positive and negatives of how they handle the situation. If you don’t have a brand crisis communication plan, now is the time to create one. This plan will help you manage negative press and mitigate brand damage as much as possible.

…And mimic their triumphs

When your competition does well, you want to surpass their success. And while you don’t want to mimic your competitors’, you do want to make an effort to examine them. What did they say and/or do that resonated with the audience? What strategies are they using successfully–and could these work for you too? By knowing what works for them, you can get a better idea of a) strategies and tactics and b) how to minimize your competitors’ success. Your best playbook is going to be a combination of audience research, studying your competitors and building upon your successes. And if a strategy or tactic didn’t make the impact you wanted, don’t throw it out. Review it once more and see if there are ways to tweak or improve it to meet your desired goals.

Know where your brand stands

Do you know how your company fares in the market? Do customers prefer competitor products or services over yours (and why)? Are you differentiated enough from your competition to stand out? If you don’t, you cannot identify areas of improvement nor can you capitalize on your strengths. That’s why you need to benchmark your competitors, as this research can give you a better idea of where your own brand stands in term of customer favoritism and market performance. You can see what types of messages you send to your customers versus your competitors, see if these messages are differentiated or cookie-cutter and learn how well they resonate with audiences.

Finally, remember that knowledge is power

This saying may be cliché, but its overuse is for a good reason: It’s true. Having all tidbits of information at your disposal is necessary to effectively strategize in all areas of your company, from product development to social media. As a company voted one of the best Chicago branding agencies, we know this helps you improve on not just your weak areas but your competitors, too, giving you an opportunity to fill in product or service gaps in the market.

Conducting an effective audit on your brand is a tedious process and one that can be ongoing indefinitely, depending on your goals and/or needs. Paragraphs is recognized as a Top Branding Agency on DesignRush, and we’ve helped national companies with brand equity research and offered suggestions based upon findings. If you would like to find more about your brand’s performance, contact us today.

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