Having a passion for something popular is the pits. It can be REALLY hard to find your motivation to start a brand/business when you know there’s already a large offering out there for the same product or service. 

How will you compete with brands who have been doing it for years? How will you find an audience when they’ve already chosen their favorites? Is there still room for you?

To talk about this we’re going to use tacos as our model. Why? They are a hugely popular food. You can get tacos just about anywhere here in Arizona. And there are a lot of people who have been in the taco business for a long time. Plus they are a delicious example. 

If your dream was to make and sell tacos, odds are you’ve had the saturated market blues. But regardless of what your dream is, you can use these tips to push past the feeling of inadequacy and get the courage to start a brand in an overwhelmed space and do so in a way that makes you stand out. 


Make it Personal


No matter what kind of business you’re starting, a good story is a powerful tool for getting off the ground. People love rooting for people. They love supporting brands that are on a mission. Even if that mission is something as simple and common as tortilla-wrapped happiness.

So get your story out there early and often. 

Are you two sisters who have dreamed of this since you were little girls? One of you is spicy and the other is sweet and you’ve created a menu of savory and dessert tacos?

Was your mother a master tortilla maker and you’re using her recipe to bring Mexican tradition into modern environments?

Did you and your hubby have competitions to see who could make the best vegan tacos and that evolved into your menu?

Whatever your story is that led you to taco making, share it. It’s the number one advantage small brands have over corporate entities. Taco Bell doesn’t have a personality. But you do. 


Create a Club


People want to see themselves in a brand. We all need a permission slip to participate and one of the best ways to signal to your audience that your tacos are for them is by showing who else is enjoying your offering. 

If you offer late-night hangover tacos out of a truck to college kids, there better be pictures of partying co-eds mowing down your taco party pack. If you run a family restaurant maybe your youngest customers are called Taco-teers and get a free taco every year on their birthday. 

The point is, brands for everybody tend to attract nobody. It screams generic. This doesn’t mean you have to be super niche, you could be in service of your entire town. In which case you might name your menu items after local landmarks and source your products from local farmers. 

We all want to be in a club. Especially a taco club. So make sure you are showcasing who your members are. 


Be Funny/Clever/Unforgettable


Quirk is tough to beat. Do you remember Snapple facts in the lids? They were just these silly little bits of information that came with each bottle. Now, show of hands, how many people really love Snapple?  

Snapple is cool only because it’s memorable. Not because it makes the world’s best refreshments, but because we all remember popping the top and sharing what it said. You can apply the same technique to your own branding strategy.

Make super shareable and relatable memes about tacos and happiness (the two are scientifically proven to be connected). Have all your IGTV videos be of customers taking their first bites of tacos. Brand a mustache onto every handmade tortilla. 

Even just one little distinctive element can set you apart from the crowd. If you can make people laugh, smile, or delight in the experience even just for a second, that feeling will leave a lasting impact.


Create a Takeaway


In saturated markets, people have to leave a lasting impression to get a second chance. They have to create the “Oh have you heard about this…” sensation within their brand. How do you do that? Give your customers a great experience they can walk away with.

Maybe everyone gets a tiny dessert before they go called “What the flan?”

Perhaps you put a salsa recipe in each check your customers can take home and try to make for themselves.

Or you have a fun social media-worthy sign that people take a picture in front of. (Like “The Henry” here in Phoenix… and yes, they have a taco item on the menu.)

Even if you’re an online business, things like packaging or handwritten thank you notes can leave the same sort of takeaway that brings you back time and time again. Dollar Shave Club (in addition to hilarious, audience-specific branding) sends a fun little pamphlet with each order… meant to be read on the toilet. 

In a crowded business space, it helps to give people a cherry on top.


Quality Must Be Undeniable


We won’t linger on this for a long time, because it almost goes without saying, but you have to provide quality. When there is heavy competition there is little room for error. So before all the branding and the flare, you have to make sure the quality is there. 


Flip Tradition or Use Nostalgia 


People like two things: old and new. Hilarious. Maybe a little stupid. But it’s true. We either like the thing that is like nothing we’ve ever seen or we like the thing that takes us to a special place in our past. Even in super saturated markets, there is room to be inventive or deeply rooted in tradition. Both have their own audience and their own appeal. 

You could be the first company to do an all taco meal kit service. Or your taco shop could hold a monthly cooking class that teaches a new generation old school techniques. The point is something new makes us (the consumers) feel fancy in our keen ability to be the first to a discovery. Conversely, tradition makes us feel noble by upholding long-held knowledge. 

Leaning in either direction is bound to give you an edge on those who ride the safe middle. 

What it all boils down to is experience. You and everyone you know could sell tacos, but the ones who will succeed know how to distinguish themselves in small, but meaningful ways. There are a lot of people doing a lot of the same who still find an audience because they’ve tailored their brand to themselves and their audience instead of trying to fit in.