The correct answer to this questions is: it depends. There are pros and cons to both angles. While most businesses believe they want to take the lead, there are benefits to following that might yield better results in some cases.  Let’s examine both options so you can discover the most effective direction to take your brand strategy in.

Benefits of Being a Follower Brand:

– Consumers may buy your product because it is similar to one they are familiar with
– Competitive pricing that is “close enough” without the original brand premium pricing
– Learn on your competitor’s dime by observing their successes and failures

Drawbacks of Being a Follower Brand:

– Potential advertising backlash for being unoriginal or a copycat brand
– Your brand is always late to the party, allowing the leaders to step in first and gain market shares
– Innovation becomes more difficult because someone already did it before

If you think your brand is better suited as a leader, then continue reading to delve deeper into the other side of the brand positioning fence.

Benefits of Being a Leader Brand:

– Automatic advantage because you’re the first to present a product or service that fills a need
– When properly marketed and scaled, you can see tremendous benefits from market share growth
– You can use words like “original” in advertising, which can make followers seem opportunistic and/or disingenuous

Drawbacks of Being a Leader Brand:

– You make the mistakes the followers learn from first, and they may be costly
– There may be little to no available data or reference points to help guide your strategy
– It’s hard to know if you have a “hero or a zero” product or service (thanks, Lori Greiner)

 Leader vs. Follower in Action:

Here’s a quick example of how a leader can impact a follower product. While shopping in a well-known organic food store, one can spot both the TOMS® and BOBS line of shoes.  Not only are they similar in look, they both sport a charitable mission behind the product:

Now that you have a better perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of being a follower and a leader, it’s time to finally answer the question we initially posed.

Should your brand take the first groundbreaking steps as a leader or should you hang back to reap the money-saving benefits of being a follower?


**Our blog is a resource guide for educational and informational purposes. (And sometimes venting about topics such as sub-par experiences and/or individuals who wear Vibram Five Fingers to dinner parties. You know–the usual.) To write our articles, we use our experiences, the experiences of others and various other resources including but not limited to the wild wild web, the Encyclopedia Britannica (what? you didn’t buy the extended library collection of 1989?) and/or The Magic 8-ball. (Kidding. But maybe not.) That said, our advice doesn’t come with any guarantees. By visiting this site, you’re essentially signing a contract that says that you understand that we make no guarantees, and you won’t try to sue us or report us to your cousin, who just got his/her law degree and could use the practice. Because that would be awkward and not cool. 🙂