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Great Brands Don’t Follow Trends, They Create Them

The title of this blog post is a quote from a book that I’ve been reading, What Great Brands Do.

It’s been a fantastic read so far, and the idea of creating trends instead of following them has stuck out to me more than any other idea. The author, Denise Lee Yohn goes further with the idea:

Some people think that a key part of building a great brand is being trendy, meaning following current trends. But in fact, following trends can be a risky endeavor, because trends change quickly, and trying to adapt your brand to each change can compromise its integrity.

When you follow a trend set by a competitor, you’re actually putting yourself in a comparative position, where consumers see you as a follower, not a leader. Your products will be perceived as similar to your competitors’ products, but with a modifying “-er”: that is, bigger, cheaper, faster and so on.

It’s funny because I see this happening in the WordPress space all of the time. A competitor launches a feature or adds a new fancy widget, so we immediately halt our process and start chasing what they’re doing.

“They made how much money last month?”

“Clearly we need to be doing what they’re doing!”

“That’s where the money is!”

Chasing cash like that is a guaranteed recipe for disaster.

Chasing competitors is especially bad in the support and maintenance space. There’s this idea that support and maintenance is easy recurring income. We’ve busted that myth but it doesn’t seem to keep the misconception from running rampant.

I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve seen companies rip our site content or even our actual design. Like, literally copying and pasting images, CSS and HTML.

It’s hilarious.

As if some design element can somehow replicate our people or our commitment to quality service.

Brands aren’t built on jpegs and PHP.

Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Focus on the thing you do best, and do it better than everyone else. Innovate in your space. Own it and build your brand around it.

Don’t waste your time following trends, create them.