June 30, 2016

How to Make Your Brand Stand Out in a Crowd

On a hot Monday afternoon, July 4th, 2016, competitors will gather at the boardwalk on Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y. to compete in one of the most famous Indepedence Day traditions around – the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Now, despite what some may think of the contest itself, there is little doubt the impact it has had on the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog brand.

This was a brand that was previously only known to a select few in the northeast, but is now known around the world. And much of the thanks for that comes from those who showed up every Fourth of July in front of the brand’s Coney Island location to see how many hot dogs they could eat in ten minutes.

That’s right – a brand was able to build an entire branding strategy off of a competitive eating contest.

How did they do it? This situation is a classic example of a brand seeing an unmet need and filling the space.

There normally isn’t a lot going on in terms of televised entertainment on this day of the year, and the company had been holding hot dog eating competitions for many years. With the foresight to see the potential behind filling the entertainment void, Nathan’s then was able to connect their brand with the holiday in general. As the competition’s popularity grew, so did the brand recognition and brand equity.

For brands looking to stand out in a crowded marketplace, looking for ways to reach outside of just your product can be the most effective way to differentiate from your competitors. Nathan’s was sitting in the packed hot dog-selling industry, with little brand separation, especially when competing against the bigger brands in its space.

-2984f6fe0c6f7f25They didn’t look to try and create a fancy new logo or change their brand values – instead, they used the local strength of their brand and a timely piece of entertainment connected with their product to gradually build up.

An important point to keep in mind, however, is that a quality product behind the brand is a vital piece of the puzzle. There is little doubt that if Nathan’s sold an inferior hot dog that didn’t stand up to the reputation of the brand, then its growth and reputation would be limited.

Let’s assume you are offering a high-quality product in a crowded space where your brand is struggling to stand out. You may not have something unique as the hot dog eating contest to help grow your brand, but your brand is so much more than its tangible assets.

Maybe your customer satisfaction is astoundingly good? Maybe you have a strong connection to a season, place or feeling? Or possibly your brand is synonymous with a particular event, much like the Nathan’s example.

All of these are ways to spread your brand beyond the traditional brand limits, and find new audiences who simply needed to be made aware of your brand and what it stands for.

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