How to Grow a Brand & Beat Competitors in the Market

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How Brands Grow" by Byron Sharp. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want your business to be the best in its field? Do you want to know how to grow a brand through great marketing?

According to Byron Sharp, the author of How Brands Grow, growing a brand relies on a fixed pattern that focuses on attracting new customers, rather than keeping existing customers. He also claims that memorable branding is an essential part of this pattern, as it keeps customers thinking about your brand.

Continue reading for Sharp’s advice on how to grow a brand and more information on the pattern of brand growth.

The Fixed Pattern of Brand Growth

Sharp uses data to argue that acquiring new customers, and not retaining more existing customers, is the key to brand growth. At the core of Sharp’s data-centric argument is a statistical pattern we’ll call the “fixed pattern of brand growth.”

Every time a brand grows in market share, its market penetration (total number of customers) increases dramatically, while its customer retention and average purchase frequency increase only modestly. In other words, when a brand grows faster than its competitors do, it’s always due to a greater total number of customers. Sharp finds that this pattern holds true for brands in wildly different industries, in markets around the world, and in data sets collected over the past several decades.

Let’s break this idea down. Theoretically, how a brand grows and earns greater market share (earning more than its competitors) is done so in three ways:

  1. Acquiring more customers
  2. Losing fewer customers to competitors over time
  3. Persuading their existing customers to purchase from them more frequently 

However, by examining the data, Sharp finds that when you break down the sources of any company’s profits and compare them to their competitors, you find that no brands accomplish goals two and three significantly better than their competitors. All competing brands lose about the same percentage of their customers to their competitors every year, and no brands have customers that buy much more frequently than their competitors’ customers do. Winning brands always set themselves apart by accomplishing goal one: acquiring more customers than their competitors.

According to Sharp, the fixed pattern of brand growth implies that no matter what managers or marketers do, it’s impossible for a brand to surpass its top competitors by seeking to make its customers more “loyal.” In other words, there’s no way to dominate a market by targeting the customers you already have. Ultimately, such marketing is a waste of money. In contrast, acquiring new customers will always be the most important factor in knowing how to grow a brand.

How To Grow a Brand With Memorable Branding

Because consumers only think about a select few brands when deciding which to purchase, Sharp claims that the most effective way to grow a brand is to increase the likelihood that consumers will think about it.

Sharp proposes three main ways to grow a brand by influencing your customers to think about it:

  1. Advertise regularly to create brand memories.
  2. Create recognizable brand assets and keep them consistent.
  3. Expand your brand’s reach to increase its visibility.

What consumers think of your brand matters far less than how often they think about your brand. According to Sharp, if a customer recognizes your brand and considers buying it, however briefly, they’re already vastly more likely to purchase your brand than your competitors’ brands, whom they don’t instantly recognize and thus ignore completely.

How to Grow a Brand & Beat Competitors in the Market

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Byron Sharp's "How Brands Grow" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full How Brands Grow summary :

  • Why everything you know about marketing is wrong
  • An unpacking of the unsubstantiated marketing myths that business schools teach
  • The psychology behind consumers’ purchasing decisions

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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