Why you should stop trying to be the next Sunbrella

As new manufacturers enter the casual space, I’ve noticed a key theme: They want to be somebody else. Or rather, they want to be the next *insert biggest brand in the industry.*

You’ve heard it before. A brand comes out with a product and touts all of its special features, saying their product is going to change the industry forever. And then you take a closer look and realize they’re not offering anything that’s not already on the market. Even worse, they’re not talking about the things that actually do make them different.

This frustrates me for two reasons.

  1. When you try to be something you’re not, you lose what makes you, you. Your product simply gets compared to the bigger brand name you’re trying to be, which doesn’t always end well for you.
  2. If you truly have a game-changing product, you not only need to do your research about what’s out there, but you have to boast the right features.

For example, if you’re a manufacturer of poly lumber furniture and you try to sell the product based on the fact that it’s weatherproof, you’re not going to have much success. If you say it’s better than the best poly lumber brand on the market, that’s not going to do you much good either. But if you try to sell the product based on the fact that it’s made of eco-friendly recycled materials taken out of the ocean—that means something to people.

There’s no problem with dreaming big, but you have to stay realistic. You’re likely never going to beat out a top brand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do extremely well on your own.

Remember two things: First, avoid comparisons. Whether in business or life in general, comparing yourself to someone or something else is never a good idea. Everyone’s in a different situation—financially, mentally, etc.—so comparisons are not reliable. Further, this takes the attention away from your brand and reminds everyone how great the brand you’re comparing yourself to is.

Second, remember that you don’t need to be the next Sunbrella or Ikea. If you have something unique to offer and you present it in the right way, people will see the value. As the poet Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

The One Stop Shop blog is your number one source for furniture industry tips, advice and how-to's. From social media guidance to breaking down trends in the industry, One Stop Shop offers solutions and ideas that will help specialty retailers, manufacturers and designers succeed in business. Alex’s millennial tendencies and love for listicles runs deep, but not as deep as his passion for providing useful, helpful and informative solutions. Have something you want Alex to write about? Contact him on Twitter @CLalexM or by email at Amilstein@casualliving.com