be-originalI was watching an episode of Bar Rescue this week. I find the show thoroughly entertaining as the host John Taffer goes in and rips apart failing bar businesses. As I often do, I find parallels with my business, web design, development and management. (I know, I find parallels everywhere to the web world. Hey I am a web guy :) )

Why you ask? Well, first they send in a spy to check out the bar and to sample the food and drinks. In my case I look at the website and evaluate. They figure out why the bar is losing money, re-design the space and fix the deficiencies. Very similar process for me but I don’t get as angry as the host of Bar Rescue. (Most of the time)

I was watching an episode the other day. The bar owner had sold his previous bar. He then opened a new place across the street. This particular bar was in New Orleans which means it is one of the few places in the US where you sell drinks to go. Instead of coming up with a new concept, he copied the plastic to-go cup in color and looks. (the old bar had a green hand grenade shape at the bottom, the new one had a turtle motif on the bottom, but both looked identical) The result? They got sued for copyright infringement and spent $100,000 defending the suit. His bar ended up a cheap copy of his old place and the result was a cheap imitation that was easy to miss. So easy in fact, that the spies which were sent in actually walked by the place!

So, this made me think in terms of new websites and new business branding. Often times clients will look at their competitors and want to copy what they see. Now competitive analysis is a great first start when you are in the process of getting a new business venture going. But copying what they’re doing is never a good idea. You want your own original branding strategy. Readers to my blog will remember I spoke about names in my last post. You also want to think very carefully before you name your new business. If you choose a name which there are already five or six other companies with the same name, chances are you will not get a great domain. And even worse, you actually drive traffic to those sites.

Bottom line: Be original in your name, your design and everything you do so that you establish your own brand and company identity. You want to differentiate yourself, not copy others. Do your competitive analysis, but think of ways you can be better than the existing competition. As the web world is ever changing, chances are your website is a good place to outdo your competition as you can have the most up to date website with the latest technology.