Why copying your competitors will damage your brand | The Giles Agency

September 16, 2019

by Nicky Jenner

Product marketing is incredibly tricky business.

As soon as one company launches a shiny new product to market, as long as the demand is there, they’ll only have a short window of time to be a market of one before competitors follow suit.

This is no new phenomenon, but it’s important to remember that standing out will always beat following the crowd – and here’s why.

One of the main challenges we face when clients ask us to help with their product marketing is how to differentiate them from their competitors – and sometimes even how to differentiate between individual products within their own portfolio that seem similar.

This is the case in almost all industries. Travel insurance from brand X may offer the same policies as insurance from brand Y, for instance. Hotel X may open right next to hotel Y – with the same view and facilities. If you remove the badge from the front of car X, the specifications might be remarkably similar to car Y. You get the gist!

So, how can you offer the most distinctive, memorable product within a crowded marketplace?

Think purpose

Your starting point, as with the vast majority of communications, should be purpose. For example, why, exactly, are you launching Product X?



‘Because others offer it’

Unless your R&D department has been given an overly generous budget for the year, chances are that you’re developing Product X because a competitor offers it. No problem – but think carefully about how you go about it. If you brief your creative team in this way, you’ll soon find you have a campaign that’s just like everyone else’s. To see the best results, define and advertise what makes you different – not who else offers the same as you. Don’t aim for mediocrity or the average. Aim higher.

‘So I don’t fall behind’

Rather than getting the upper hand on your competitor, by recreating their product portfolio rather than adding to it all you’re doing is saturating a market so that nobody stands out… including you. You’re also diverting your attention away from your business, and preventing you from looking ahead and possibly creating the unique, forward-thinking, never-before-seen Product Y.

‘I want to see success like my competitor’s’

We’ve worked with clients who offer a competitor’s marketing, branding, visuals and tone as a reference for how they’d like to present their product. This is great if accompanied by an instruction to do something different or better – but we often get critiqued and asked to make creative work “more like theirs”. This is how you end up with a confused market that’s completely saturated with the same jargon and buzzwords. The best approach is to have your own tone of voice, identity and messaging, to make customers remember you.

‘It seems to be doing well for them’

It’s key to remember that, while you see Product X and its market reception, you’re not privy to the planning and development that went into creating the product. You have no idea about the behind-the-scenes research, testing, spend and actual ROI of a company’s activities.


We’ll be revisiting this topic more in the coming weeks. We’ll pick apart other aspects of product marketing and competition, from how to highlight what your customers really want to know to how to make sure your product’s standout feature does just that – stands out.

If you’d like to discuss any of this with a member of our team, please do get in touch and see how we can work together to see success.