Gain clarity by mapping your competitors.

Stef Hamerlinck
Aug 4, 2018 · 4 min read

Using competitor maps you can get a better view on your different types of competitors, direct and indirect. It gives you clarity and inspiration.

Let’s take a look at how you can map out the different competitors and brands to look out for.

1. Do your research.

Mapping competitors starts with doing research. Once you know ‘what’ your brand is offering, a simple Google search can get you some interesting results. Of course keep in account a couple of things when listing ‘competitors’.

  • A competitor is classicaly defined as “Any person or entity which is a rival against another. In business, a company in the same industry or a similar industry which offers a similar product or service.” (source)
  • Competitors should be in the same economical space, meaning, a customer can ‘choose’ between your brand and the competitors. Of course, brands can ‘grow’ and enter your space later, so keep that in mind.
  • Competitors can be more than what you are ‘offering’. Define competitors based on the customer needs, not on what you are delivering. For example: Deliveroo’s direct competitor in the online, ready-made food delivery is Uber Eats, but from a customers standpoint, local pizza delivery or even take-away restaurants solve a similar problem (getting something to eat quickly without cooking).

Make sure you do your own research, getting a list of competitors from your client or manager isn’t enough. A lot of times it is missing some really interesting competitors. So try to create this list from different angles.

2. Start on the inside.

Start with the direct competitors, the ones that are directly within the same space. For example, for Deliveroo we would take a look at all the online platforms that deliver ready made food at your doorstep.

3. Expand outwards.

Next to the most ‘direct’ competitors, we have the ‘indirect’ competitors. These are products or services that solve a similar customer need, for example ‘HelloFresh’ delivers groceries ready to be cooked at home. It’s not the same as a ‘ready-made’ meal but it solves similar customer needs.

4. Group if needed.

If you start seeing similar brands or have a really broad scope of competitors you can start ‘grouping’ multiple brands together. This is interesting when you are doing a more ‘macro’ approach, if we go back to the Deliveroo map we could have the following map:

As you can see we have created a category called ‘retail’ delivery, ‘pizza delivery’ and ‘take-away’ bars, these are multiple brands that belong to one category, but it’s really interesting to see how you brand fit’s within the bigger story.

5. Look beyond

The whole idea of a competitor map is to look beyond the ‘average’ competitors and start to see a bigger picture. For our Deliveroo example we could see ‘retail delivery’ as a service to look out for, once big chains such as Wall-mart start doing home delivery they become an option in the customers mind for getting food delivery. We add these types of brands to the most outer circle ‘brands to watch out for’.

As you can see, Competitor mapping can give you, your client and your team clarity as to how your market looks like, by looking beyond the borders of your ‘industry’ you can get a more long term idea that is based on your customers need, not your service or product. Once you have a good idea on the competitors, take a look at positioning mapping to really start differentiating yourself.

This article is written as part of a collaboration between HolaBrief and Let’s talk branding.


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Thanks to Fernando Ifrán

Stef Hamerlinck

Written by

Brand strategist and identity designer. Founder of a branding agency and branding community



Stories from HolaBrief's community on branding, design process, product development and more. Learn more:

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