I'm presented business pitches all the time and it's incumbent upon me to distinguish between viable investment proposals from those with no prospect for success.
One technique I use in judging businesses is the 'ER' filter. 'ER' Brands are those that rely on others to explain 'who' they are. For example, when the pitcher says, "we're just like X only cheaper, healthier, faster, bigger, sexier, " whatever. These descriptions instantly set off my beware alert about this company's breakthrough ability and long-term viability.
An 'ER' position relegates your Brand to subordinate status as compared to the Brand used as your benchmark - it tells consumers your Brand possesses only comparative value rather than inherent value. It also puts your Brand under constant pressure, because NOW its value is tied to Brand X's product/service. This leaves you with little basis to achieve meaningful and sustainable differentiation.
Iconic Brands NEVER settle for being 'ER' Brands. Your Brand must capture the imagination of customers and investors alike - and have reference points ONLY to themselves.
Not every product can be truly new but even if it is somewhat derivative the Brand must be clearly different. You CANNOT use an existing Brand to explain yours - as a well conceived Brand platform and market positioning can relegate competitors to irrelevance.
Don't be an 'ER' Brand, it never works in the long-run.
Principal, Fund-House Ventures, LLC