If your business operates at all likes ours, Friday tends to be a good project clean-up day; it’s a chance to work on a number of smaller revisions / updates that don’t easily fall into the weekly creative workflow. But we’ve also found that Fridays are a good opportunity to take stock in your company and turn an eye toward the big picture: what you’re doing well, what you could be doing better, and where you’re headed. The mood is typically lighter on Fridays, so we find it’s far easier to have some of these conversations in a more organic way than trying to force them to happen on a packed-calendar Monday. The challenge, though, with the big-picture, ‘where are we going?’ conversations is that they can easily spiral out of control, and you can get sucked into the abyss (I’m sure you’ve been there; that moment where you lose sight of the actual starting point of the conversation). So, this Friday, I’d like to propose a simple exercise. Select 3 of your competitors and give their websites a thorough review – and then compare your findings to your own company. Now just so we’re on the same page, when I say “competitor” I don’t mean the local company that you’re already crushing. I mean the big guys: those companies that you both love and hate at the same time – the ones that inspire you to be better and also make you realize just how much more work you have to do. Sound familiar? Take those three companies, read through their websites, and ask these questions:

  • What message are they trying to hammer into your brain as a prospective client or customer?
  • What does their website do really well? What doesn’t it do very well?
  • What is the high-level impression that you get about this company (i.e. “this company is really…”)?

Now open a new tab, look at your own website, and do the same thing. Chances are the answers (in comparison to each other) could be quite eye-opening. But here’s the thing (and I can’t stress this enough), the point of this little exercise is not to make you feel badly about where you are or all of the things that you could be doing better. The point is simply to illustrate how easy it can be to begin to develop a better branding roadmap. Don’t like how you finished the “this company is really…” sentence? Great, now you have a concrete target to begin fixing. More than anything, though, is the understanding that constant change is a good thing: keep looking at the other guys, keep improving, and keep beating yourself up a little bit (at least for a few hours on Friday). We’re believers in taking our own medicine, so we’re off to do our own review:

We’ll let you know how it goes.