Sam Caron

Sam Caron

Brand market fit vs. Differentiation

To be successful as an emerging brand, you have to accomplish two things:

  1. Fit the market
  2. Differentiate yourself from other, currently available brands.

This may sound obvious, but the main cause of failure in new brands is when they don’t hit both of those important points.

Think about it: if a brand fits the market – but isn’t different from its widely available competitors in any significant way – why would a consumer buy it, rather than a brand which they already trust and recognise? Conversely, if your brand is wildly different from what people can already buy, but doesn’t fit your target market, it won’t appeal to anyone.

Being different

Concentrated bearded man in hoodie sitting at wooden table and using tablet while working on brand design

As a new brand, you’ve got to be new and exciting. However, consumers don’t want something totally unfamiliar and off-the-wall – why would they gamble with their hard-earned cash?

Let’s think about a well known example – Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce. Levi Roots sauce first appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2007, and secured an investment of £50,000. By 2010, the brand was worth £30 million.

Why did a totally new product warrant so much confidence, and then go on to be so commercially successful? Well, it both fits the market, and is different. Consumers love spicy sauces – something to dip chips into, or to put in a wrap. At the time, there was a distinct lack of Jamaican sauces into which to dip those chips. A gap in the market was identified and filled.

Fitting the market

When you’re first starting out with a brand, one of the most important things you must do is understand your target market, and do everything you can to ensure your product(s) cater to it.

Let’s consider another example – imagine you’re just starting out with a new brand of cereal, and you’re really trying to differentiate yourself from what consumers can already buy. You notice that cereal almost always comes in rectangular boxes, and decide you’ll market your brand as ‘The Cereal in the Cylindrical Box’.

It’s definitely different from what’s already on offer, but why would customers care? Well, they probably wouldn’t. The might not even trust the cylindrical box when they see it in the store… Because it’s not what they are used to.

What to take away

Starting out as a new brand can be daunting – there seems to be a million things to think about. But if you laser focus on those two areas – being different and fitting the market – you’re already halfway there. 

You should know your target demographic as well as you know yourself – what they eat for breakfast, how much they earn, what car they drive. And you should always have your unique selling point – whatever it is that means consumers will choose you over your competitors – firmly in your head at all times.


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