Updated: Aug 23
Part of the branding process is looking for ways to leverage your business’ uniqueness in order to stand out from the crowd. This pertains both to the aesthetic elements of your brand but also in its messaging. In order to truly stand out in your industry, it’s so important that you get a feel for your competitive landscape.
The overarching goal here is to see how your competitors are making their mark in the industry and looking for opportunities to set yourself apart. So what is the framework for competitive analysis? Let me walk you through my own approach so that you can start working on your own competitor analysis.
IDENTIFYING YOUR COMPETITION
Before you can begin to do a competitive analysis you need to identify your competition. How you choose to go about this will vary per industry. For instance, if you’re a service-based business, you’ll likely want to focus largely on your local competition. However, if you are a product or even a digital service, you’ll want to expand your competitor analysis beyond your area.
Start by creating a list of at least five local competitors. These can be both small and large competitors in your city or region. Make note of their names, website URLs, and social handles.
To give your analysis proper breadth, make another list of at least five global competitors, these can be both small and large scale businesses from other cities or countries.
This helps you to analyze the competition both locally versus abroad and small versus large scale. Having a wide scope is beneficial for pinpointing trends and opportunities to be different.
BRAND COMPETITION ANALYSIS
1. What logo styles are common in your industry?
Start collecting the logos of each of the competitors on your list. You can do this by saving them from their websites or taking a screenshot. The goal here is to look for trends that exist among your competitors with regards to their logo styles. Make note of the following characteristics:
What style do they have? Is it typographic or do they use imagery?
Are their brand names contained in a shape?
What font styles are they using? Sans Serif? Serif? Script? Display?
Do they use more than one font?
Are they colourful? Do they have one, two or three+ colours?
In the example below, I did a competitive analysis for massage therapy businesses in the Toronto area. With the logos you’ve saved from your own list, drop each one of your competitor’s logos into a single document, seeing them side-by-side is the best way to begin to recognize trends.
2. What colour trends exist in your industry?
Make note of the brand colours each competitor uses. In order to properly evaluate this you need to do this visually. Since there are so many shades of each colour, I recommend taking screenshots of swatches from their websites or logos and renaming them with the company’s name. Put them in a single folder on your computer or, ideally, in a single document to compare.
What this does is help to paint the colour picture of your industry’s frequently used colours. Using the same brands from above, these are the colours that exist among them. The most obvious takeaway is the lack of warm colours across the board. Only 25% of the colours used are warm, whereas 54% are cool tones.
3. What is their key messaging?
When it comes to your competitor analysis, be sure to make note of their brand messaging. As you review your competitor websites, look for taglines or mission statements. How are they the same? How are they different? Do they even use a tagline?
Pay attention to the tone of voice. Is it direct? Personal? Clinical? Honest?
What about the type of language they use? Is it simple? Complex? Serious? Fun?
A great tool for analyzing which words your competitors are using is wordart.com. Go to their website to generate a visual that shows which words are being used most often on any particular website. Go Import > Web > enter URL > hit visualize.
The graphic above quickly shows you which words are used most frequently on the website of massageaddict.ca. If you can create one of these for each of your competitors you’ll be able to quickly identify the similar language.
4. What is their main call-to-action (CTA)?
Following on the heels of the messaging and tone, look for their main CTA? Is it to make a purchase? Book an appointment? Opt-in for something?
Is the CTA clear? How do they guide the user to this action? These are all questions to ask yourself as you analyze your competitor websites. If everyone is using the same tactic, start thinking about what you can do that goes against the status quo that would pique your audience’s interest.
FINDING OPPORTUNITIES IN YOUR COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE
After you’ve spent your time analyzing your list of competitors, you’ll start to see patterns and trends emerge. Where ever there are similarities and overlap, make note.
Based on your findings, what are the key takeaways? These could be common colour palettes that are used, a similar voice or logo style. These takeaways are what you’ll use to identify holes in your industry that you could leverage within your own business.
For example, returning to the logos of Toronto’s massage therapy industry, you can see there is an overwhelming number of brands that use sans serif fonts in their logos. This finding, along with the dominating cool colour palettes used suggest a new brand may want to use warm tones and explore designs that use a script or display font to differentiate themselves in the industry.
Be sure to take your time evaluating your competitive landscape. Whether you’re doing so to design a brand that will grab the attention of your target audience or if you’re looking for new tactics to implement in your business strategy — what you choose to do with your competitive analysis is up to you.