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You are not Apple Nike or Coca-Cola

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Some of my marketing colleagues and friends won’t be happy I said that but it’s still true. As the Creative Director of Brooklyn-based creative agency, I help small and medium-sized businesses brand (or re-brand) themselves. The problem is, oftentimes, they think they want Apple’s strategy or Nike’s strategy. The truth is their marketing strategies can’t be like Apple’s or Nike’s because they’re not Apple or Nike. They don’t have the same resources, employees, or even visions. However, just because their resources, employees, and visions are different doesn’t mean they’re not as good or that they don’t offer just as valuable of a service or product. So, when a marketer, branding strategist, or designer comes in with (great) examples they like from, say, Amazon, just say no (sorry, I just quoted Nike).

To demonstrate, take a successful social media campaign in which a giant anonymous company launches a YouTube commercial, gives away free gifts, and uses celebrities to talk about their company. Before copying this exact strategy, think about your own business. Are you the same? Will your campaign work as well with the C-list celebrities you can afford to enlist? Will your video with 1/100 the budget be able to compete? That’s right. You need a different strategy. You still need a strategy but it needs to be different.

Another thing I often see is when an excited small business wants to do a “teaser” ad. Often, a small business thinks everybody lives in their bubble and can’t sleep at night because of their teaser ad. They are waiting up all night to see the final ad. When the actual ad comes out, chances are most people that end up seeing the ad never saw the teaser.

A better alternative might be to use your marketing dollars to repeat your regular ad several times. You need to find your own differentiated advantage. What makes your company unique and impossible to copy? Do you offer the most natural products or the best possible customer service? These are now things you can work with to brand your company.

Einstein once said that “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” I think this applies here. When you try to copy a brand’s strategy, you essentially take the solution to one problem and apply it to a completely different one.

If you’d like help branding your small or medium-sized business, feel free to contact us at or call us at 718.305.7225