Tools by Artemis Doupa
20 June 2023
20 June 2023
Temps de lecture : 4 minutes
4 min

How can creative businesses stand out in markets dominated by multi-nationals?

With its intricate maze of challenges and fierce competition, the marketplace can seem formidable at first glance, especially for small, creative brands just starting their journey. Having long established their dominance, towering multinational corporations command the landscape with their vast resources and global reach. This can often cast an overwhelming shadow on smaller brands attempting to make their presence felt and secure a slice of the market.
Temps de lecture : 4 minutes

However, these emerging players have some aces up their sleeves. They possess hidden strengths - their inventive capabilities and distinct offerings - which, if wielded strategically, can pave the way for them to claim their rightful space in the market and truly distinguish themselves in the crowd. Most importantly, in this vast market landscape, size is not always a determinant of success; it's the ability to resonate with consumers and offer something uniquely valuable that ultimately helps businesses to rise above the noise and stand out.

In the world of business, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your product should be for everyone. However, for small creative businesses, this is often a mistake. These companies thrive when they find their niche, solving a specific problem for a particular group of people.

Copying the strategies of giants like Apple, H&M, or Zara may seem tempting, but it often leads smaller companies astray. These huge corporations play by different rules, backed by vast budgets and disparate goals. Attempting to walk in their footsteps usually leaves smaller brands falling short and feeling defeated.

The most successful small brands are those who understand this. They recognise that they're playing a different game, with its own set of rules. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, they focus on finding dedicated fans, those who truly identify with their brand. Some of the many strengths that small business can draw on to stand out include:

The power of niche marketing and personalisation - These are two areas that larger corporations often overlook - small businesses can carve out their unique space in the market. They can connect deeply with their customers, providing something truly special that resonates with them. This approach, more than any other, allows creative brands to stand out among the giants and make their mark.

Opportunities made possible by business agility - Small creative businesses enjoy an inherent agility that is often absent in larger multinational counterparts. This agility allows them to swiftly adapt to changes in consumer preferences and emerging market trends. When velvet becomes the fabric du jour or when minimalist design takes a back seat to bold maximalist aesthetics, these smaller businesses can pivot quickly, capitalising on trends before they become mainstream. This is seen very often in slow fashion and it is one of this type of fashion’s many benefits for small businesses.

The appeal of authenticity - Smaller businesses are often characterised by a powerful sense of authenticity that is difficult for multinational corporations to replicate. This authenticity can take many forms - it might be the inspirational story of a fashion designer who was taught to sew by her grandmother, or the interior design firm founded by friends who shared a passion for vibrant, eclectic spaces. These narratives give a small creative business a unique charm and personality that can foster deep connections with consumers, who are increasingly drawn to authentic, personal engagement.

Ties to local community - Small creative businesses with strong ties to their local communities often seem to have an advantage as well. They can foster these ties in various ways: hosting local events, collaborating with local artists or craftsmen, or supporting community causes. Such initiatives can build a strong, positive brand reputation, encourage customer loyalty, and create a sense of belonging among consumers.

Leaning into novelty and specialisation - In industries where novelty is often celebrated, emphasising innovation and creativity is an excellent strategy for standing out. In the realm of fashion, for instance, a small creative business might leverage sustainable practices, producing clothing from recycled or ethically sourced materials. This commitment to sustainability can not only differentiate the business from larger competitors; it can also appeal to an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base.

In the interior design industry, a small creative business might set itself apart through personalised services and unique design solutions. Instead of mass-produced, one-size-fits-all designs, this small business could offer customised designs that incorporate local artisanal crafts or innovative space-saving solutions. Such a commitment to personalised, unique experiences can make this creative business draw attention to itself and build a loyal customer base.

There is no need to fear the challenge: small creative businesses have the potential to generate a significant impact. By leveraging their agility and authenticity, emphasising creativity and innovation, focusing on niche markets, and building strong community ties, they can rise above the giants and carve out a distinct, memorable space in the industry. This unique space is not just about surviving amidst the competition - it's about thriving.

Artemis Doupa is CEO and Founder at and maakeAcademy and author of bestselling book Design & Grow.

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