Reverse engineering is the process of making a reproduction of another’s product/service by tearing it down and figuring out how it works in hopes of duplicating or producing better value.

Doing this process presents a lot of great benefits in business:

  • It greatly reduces the cost of research & development
  • It allows you to understand why it has an impact on the market
  • It can help you better understand the competition

In this five-part series, I want to take you through a series of reverse engineering procedures that will allow you to tear down your competitors to see what really makes them tick. You will gain an edge on the competition if you understand their fundamentals – this gives you the “one-up”.

The series will comprise of the following (which you may use to jump around):

Whether you know it or not – your competition is doing this to you. The competition is keeping close tabs on you; they may even be your customers to get on the inside!

But enough of all that… let’s get into the top of part five of the series: Brand.

Understanding the Competition & Brand

Is it possible that you can reverse engineer a brand?

That’s certainly a tough question but when you break it all down you are really looking at major points that create the “essence” of a brand:

  • Tone
  • Image
  • Consistency
  • Uniqueness
  • Creativity
  • Connection
  • Authority

Each of these can be observed and replicated to a degree though you’ll never quite make an exact match (which means they have a good brand, to begin with).

Let’s go a little further into all this…

A. Pick up the “language” by following their work

From content to the products – this is where you’ll understand the majority of the items on our above list.

Reading their content can give you clues as to the tone they have when discussing their business. The creative work they do can help explain their image to the marketplace (hip, cool, professional, etc). You’ll also learn of their consistency of work, uniqueness in what they do, and how they’re pushing creativity.

An easy way to find out all these key items is to just listen to the community, too. See what others are saying about the competitor. Go on and even contact some of these individuals and ask for their opinions about them.

B. Participate in the “experience”

As we touched in a previous part of this series – become part of the “experience” by being a customer/fan of your competitors.

You’ll get deep into their system so you can pick up on things like how they handle customer service and the connection they have with their community.

  • Subscribe to their lists and social profiles
  • Shoot them an email
  • Use their live chat
  • Join their forums

Really engrain yourself within the community so you can figure out all the details that make their brand unique.

C. Rub elbows with the associations

Who you work with greatly effects the market’s image of your authority.

People avoid new players in the market because people don’t know if they have staying power or can deliver like the big competition already has (and proven to do so).

Start schmoozing with who they work with. Buddy up with their associates to get feedback and opinions about their brand from those that work the closest (yet still on the outside). Gaining leverage on their associated partners can also lead to a pivot in the industry which may point in your direction if you’re bringing greater value to the market.

You can replicate a product & service but you can’t replicate a brand if they have done their homework and created a concrete unique selling point and experience. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t find out what makes them tick. You can understand their brand by going in deep and once you know how it all works (and why people react the way they do); you can take the appropriate actions (combined with the other reverse engineering) to generate a better presence in the marketplace.


Understanding your competitor’s branding can help you understand where your brand stands within the industry and marketplace. Understanding the brand also allows you to create a unique selling point that truly makes your business different from the rest.

You also learn which type of customers are attracted which is great for understanding where and how to market your business. See if you can “one-up” the brand at their own game and snag the authority.