Competing on price alone is bad. (Here’s what to do instead.)
Competing on price alone is bad. (Here’s what to do instead.)

By on in Branding, Strategy

Competing on price alone is bad. (Here’s what to do instead.)

When you hear the brand name “Bed Bath & Beyond,” what’s the first thing you picture?

Let me read your mind: Was it a coupon?

If I got that right, it’s not because I have ESP. It’s because, for decades, the brand’s iconic white and blue 20% off mailers defined the brand. They’d turn up in your mailbox frequently, and sometimes their presence would compel you to get in the car and finally buy that blender or duvet or shower curtain you’d been meaning to get.

Now, when I ask you to picture anything else about the Bed Bath & Beyond brand, can you conjure any specifics?

I’ll be frank, I can’t. I remember going there as a kid. It’s where I bought a royal purple quilt when my mom let me decorate my bedroom at 10 (her penance for making me move to a new town before fifth grade). It’s where I went shopping for twin XL sheets for my college dorm. And while I remember those shopping outings because of the life events they were tied to, I don’t remember the store as anything other than greige aisles filled with unremarkable home goods.

This is not to pile on Bed Bath & Beyond, which has had a rough go of it for years—declining sales, a revolving door of leadership, and an activist investor takeover. It finally succumbed to bankruptcy in 2023 and now exists only as an e-commerce shop run by its new owner,

But it is to make a point. Bed Bath & Beyond wasn’t bringing anything distinctive to the party aside from those coupons. After years of attempting to compete on price alone, the brand finally lost when other retailers entered the fray and undercut them on price.

You can find unremarkable home goods on Amazon, too. But no one can beat Amazon on scale, price, and ease. You can buy that same nondescript desk lamp for less, with one click, and it can be on your doorstep by 5 pm tonight if you have Prime.

If you’ve been defining yourself as the lowest-cost provider in your space, don’t wait for your Amazon to come along. Start rethinking your branding right now. What else sets you apart in the marketplace?

Often, you’re already doing something that’s worth talking about. You might have:

  • A stellar team. Are your people known for their friendliness, product knowledge, or investment in solving customer’s problems? Your team can be a powerful asset in distinguishing your business from others.
  • A unique solution to customer problems. Do you approach your industry from a new angle? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but if you do something a little different from your competitors, that’s something you can and should point out.
  • A bigger purpose. Eighty-two percent of consumers report wanting to buy from brands with values that align with their own. If yours is a mission-driven company, sharing that mission with the world can help attract like-minded customers.
  • A history in the industry. If you’ve been in the game for a while, you bring deep knowledge to your customers with every interaction. Sure, the new kid on the block might have some flashy branding, but they don’t know the intricacies of your field like you do.
  • A great online experience. How you present your business online matters. If you have features on your site that make it easier to navigate, understand your offerings, and buy, that’s a differentiator.
  • A strong brand personality. Do you have a vibe that others in your space can’t compete with or replicate? How many mediocre bars have coasted on being “the Irish pub with the best Guinness on tap” or “the bar with the speakeasy vibe that you can only enter through a telephone booth?” Having a schtick gets a bad rap, but it can help you stand out!


If you’ve been defining yourself as the lowest-cost provider in your space, don’t wait for your Amazon to come along. Start rethinking your branding right now.


If you can’t spot what makes you special on your own, it’s okay to ask your customers for some feedback. What do they love about you?

Again, your differentiator does not need to be a groundbreaking product, nor do you need to be driving a seismic shift in your industry. It really can be as simple as “our team is incredibly nice,” or, “our return policy is super generous,” or, “our online product filter is the best.”

Once you have a sense of what distinguishes your business, start talking about it in your marketing. Share your mission statement. Build your social media presence around your vibe.

Of course, it’s easy to write a blog about how to distinguish your brand from competitors; it’s a lot of work to actually do it. But often the most challenging marketing exercises can reap the greatest rewards. Defining your brand as something other than a low-cost provider is the kind of foundational shift that will give you a leg to stand on no matter what new bargain-basement-priced competitors enter the market.

Are you ready to uncover what really makes your brand special? We can help.