There are a lot of brands and marketers out there that are incredibly stoked by the success of others, and that’s only natural because there are some next-level businesses out there that are changing the world. However, I’ve noticed a trend in that the appreciation and idolization of other’s success has actually become a roadblock to their own success. I think every CEO/CMO/Marketer/”Social Media Whatever” can benefit from identifying and understanding this “appealing” mistake, and never make it again.
Your brand is not Uber, never forget that.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where an awesome client/prospect jumps up across the lunch table to explain their product or company to me by comparing it to another already-existing, massively successful brand.
“We’re the Uber of dry cleaning,” “We’re the Tom’s Shoes of super-niche fair trade, hand made Guatemalan leather goods,” “We’re the Casper Mattress of the beauty industry,” they chant enthusiastically.
In my mind, I facepalm and think to myself, “that sounds cool and all, but you’re not.” I don’t think this because I’m a know-it-all dick with all the answers, or because their product isn’t as incredible as Uber—it very well may be. I think this way because by comparing yourself to others, you aren’t giving your brand enough credit and have inadvertently devalued your own creation. This blog post was inspired by the real Facebook ad below by Parachute Home in which they call themselves “The Warby Parker of Bed Sheets.”
First, they’ve compared themselves to a brand that is undeniably brilliant and well-established. This means that instead of setting out to show the world what makes their own brand incredible and unique, they’ve drawn a comparison to another brand that is so aspirational, I now have no choice but to initially doubt that their brand/product/idea could possibly be as good. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I’d be willing to bet that anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a “my brand is the next Instagram pitch” knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Secondly, comparison is the thief of joy. If a benchmark goal of your company becomes emulating another, you may find that your business goals aren’t as organic and original as what your innate intellect and heart truly desires. I’m pretty certain the founders of Airbnb didn’t set out and say, “We’re going to be the Kayak.com of private home rentals.” They more likely said something like, “We’re going to fuck up Kayak and the hotel industry so bad, that by the time they figure out what happened, it will be too late. #DISRUPTIVE.” and then they proceeded to following their own goals, writing their own rules, and changing the industry forever. Warby wouldn’t be Warby if they partnered with or admired The Sunglass Hut. Wait… The Sunglass what? My point exactly.
Most importantly, you should never compare your brand to another brand again, because one day, you want other brands and marketers to be comparing themselves to you. Focus on becoming the”YOUR BRAND of YOUR INDUSTRY.”
I don’t want my company Giant Propeller to be known as “The Uber of Advertising”, I want it to be known as itself, a leader in it’s class, the digital agency that others will refer to as the company that was ahead of it’s time, did things differently for the better, and is unapologetically itself. A brand built without the expectations and patterns of other’s previous or current success.
Study those that are successful, understand them, then package them up in a safe box somewhere inside your mind, and continue doing your thing and nurturing your own brand!
So there you go. You’re not Uber, don’t ever forget that. Pitch your brand as itself, love what makes it tick, and how it communicates and it presents itself to others. Develop your brand’s own voice. It and you should always speak as you truly are.
Here’s my moment of shameless self promotion: If you liked this article and understand the value of what i’m preaching, but find yourself saying “damn, I wish I was as poetic as the dude who wrote this. I need help developing or polishing our brand’s voice,” our creatives at Giant Propeller are here to help. Hit us up. We always keep it real.
Thanks for reading.
Giant Propeller CEO & Creative Director