An ‘ER’ brand is a business that relies on others to explain ‘who’ they are. For example, when anyone tells me, “we’re just like X only cheaper, healthier, faster, bigger, sexier, whatever”. (Hence the name “ER” from cheap-er, etc.) These descriptions instantly set off my internal fire alarm about this company’s breakthrough ability and long-term viability.
Never be an ER brand. One way to distinguish a really viable business from a so-so one is to see if they are a copycat brand.
Why It’s Bad to be an ER Brand
An ‘ER’ position relegates your Brand to subordinate status as compared to the Brand used as your benchmark — it tells consumers your Brand possesses only comparative value rather than inherent value. It also puts your Brand under constant pressure, because NOW its value is tied to Brand X’s product/service. Moreover, this leaves you with little basis to achieve meaningful and sustainable differentiation. In today’s market with so much competition, your brand should stand out as unique in itself and not depend on another brand as a crutch.
Iconic Brands Are Unique
Your Brand must capture the imagination of current customers and potential consumers alike — and have reference points only to itself. Not every product can be truly new, but even if it is somewhat unoriginal, the brand must clearly stand out above the competition. It cannot use an existing, competitive brand to explain itself.
So, think — what makes you unique? Not just that you are cheaper, better, etc., but HOW are you cheaper, better, etc. What features and benefits does your product or service have that your competition does not? Focus on your strengths, benefits, features and how you can solve or alleviate your potential target market(s) pain points or problems. This is what’s called a unique selling proposition or USP. This must be defined as well as your target markets before you can build your brand.
Never be an ‘ER’ brand. It provides no opportunity for momentum growth and scaling.
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