When speaking with entrepreneurs in the wedding industry, I almost always ask who they consider to be their competitors. After hearing their list, I'll ask, "What about Company X?"
"No, no, no," comes the reply. "We do not compete at all. We were first/we have a different service or product/we are better."
Sorry, but you don't get to decide whether or not you compete with Company X. The marketplace does. And the market often does not take into consideration the differences you are citing. This is especially true in the wedding industry where repeat clients are few and the typical client only pays attention to bridal marketing for about 6-18 months. If potential clients think you offer the same thing that another company does, that is all that matters.
If you want the world to see that you offer something head and shoulders above the rest, then you need to be honest about when and where brand confusion is happening. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending it's not is a losing game.
This is harder than it seems. Too often, when companies realize they are being lumped together with someone else, they tend to get louder, flashier, and more gimmicky. Focus on being unique, not on being different. Being somewhat similar is not the sin of competition. Not being true to your core is.
Originally published November 2011