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Battle of the Brands: When Great Minds Think Alike

It’s happened to all of us. You know, you have that brilliant idea that’s sure to make millions and then…BOOM. Someone else, or even worse, a major corporation, brings your “original” idea to life. Well don’t feel too bad because this phenomenon happens to big companies and start-ups too. Sometimes, I’ll see a new brand or service and think to myself, “Doesn’t that already exist?”

We live in a world today where jumping on the bandwagon is the thing to do, especially when there’s a profit to be made. As technology makes convenience more available and expected, more companies are able to market their services to “enhance” our lives, often leading to copycats and duplicates. Surely this has been going on for as long as brands have been around (forever), but today the very public competition is even clearer.

Most recently, the app Periscope battled it out with Meerkat for live video streaming service. Uber has decidedly beaten Lyft in the peer-to-peer ridesharing taxi service, and GrubHub seems to be losing to Seamless in online food ordering & delivery space. Brands not based in the app-o-sphere are facing off to win consumers as well: Blue Apron and Plated are still in the ring until one takes over the DIY gourmet meal home delivery system. But who will win? And how will we know?

When it comes to apps the answer is easier to define: the app or network with the most active users can solidly be declared the most successful. When it comes to delivery services, the brand garnering the most traffic (and revenue) is clearly the winner. And with subscription services like Blue Apron, the service with the highest customer retention rate takes all. But not really.

Today, it seems that even when a brand “gets it”, the others hang on.  Meerkat is still alive and kicking, for now, and Lyft recently partnered with Budweiser in what one can only assume is an attempt to validate their brand and increase recognition among the public (because everyone knows Bud Light…but who uses Lyft?). But does it matter? Probably not, and it is only a matter of time before the losers fall off, after trying with all their might to mimic the success of their…twins.

So how do some companies reach that peak of success while others fail – others who are seemingly doing the same exact thing? Why did Bob Smith make millions off that super cool umbrella-rain-powered-cellphone-charger when you thought of it first and are still stuck in your day job? How did Facebook REALLY take over MySpace (remember?!)?

It all comes down to three key elements, and only three:

  1. Branding recognition
  2. Public reputation 
  3. Ease of usability/access  

Properly tap into these three components, throw in some magic, money and luck and then…BOOM. You’re the next Bill Gates…or Mark Zuckerberg…or…wait…do we even know who created Seamless?!

~ Anne Martin, AAE, The S3 Agency


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