Relativity and Originality
From branding point of view, there is no better way of defining a brand’s unique value propositions (“UVPs”) than by studying its peers or “competitors”. How else do you differentiate yourself in the marketplace? It is by a theory of relativity and the myth of one’s innate originality.
Just as we each are created with unique fingerprints, DNA and identities, no brands are alike, personal or business. However, all brands are created equal and are endowed by their creator with unmistakable personae and unalienable rights to pursue success in free capitalist competition.
Competition Is Needed for a Brand to Grow
A competitive environment is the amniotic fluid for a brand to grow. “UVPs” and “Competitors” are the yin and yang to each other.
Then why do most people view competition with a knee-jerk reaction of fight or flight or with fear and repulsion?
It’s the mindset that makes a world of difference.
Limiting and Limitless Mindsets
A limiting mindset of scarcity: If you view competition as a zero-sum game with winners and losers, you are trapped in a limiting environment (“game”) with finite and scarce outcome (“trophy”), where MY surviving and thriving must be based on YOUR being dominated, beaten and dead.In this situation our “free” market ends up with only few monopolies and a vast majority of beaten and choiceless mass.
A limitless mindset of abundance: If you view competition as an endless process of expanding possibilities, where perpetual diversity defines every brand’s identity and vibrant competition differentiates each brand’s focus and performance, “competitors” become “peers” and even “collaborators”, then we have achieved true power and success for every brand in a rich and expanding economy with optimized choices for all.
Great Brands Thrive in Competition
Here is my true story. I belong to a professional networking group meeting at 7:30 AM once a month. In one such meeting, two professionals from other groups, including a “competitor” came to participate as guests. My “competitor” owns his branding agency and they offer almost the same services as we do. Boy was I hyper alert and allergic to his presence that morning! By chance he got to do his elevator speech introduction first, so I had the advantage of “beating” him when it was my turn. Usually that early in the morning I was still foggy minded and would not care much about what I casually say in my 1-minute introduction, but this time I was determined to list all my UVPs and differentiating factors and gave it my best shot, ever.
Lo and behold, another guest that morning hired me a couple of months later, and told me that I impressed him that morning as “extremely intelligent” even though he could not recall what I pitched. I almost wanted to write my “competitor” a thank-you note for stimulating me to put my best foot forward. That morning, my best elevator speech ever was inspired by the competition.
My email inbox is inundated with newsletters that I don’t have time to even delete. I often read other fellow branding agencies’ newsletters to find out how they do branding their way and to learn and sharpen my unique approach and methodologies. I am grateful for their big-mindedness by putting me on their mailing lists.
So love your “competitors” because they stimulate your growth and make you more focused on developing your UVPs. In an ideal world, there is no such thing as a “competitor”. If each brand knows its DNA and UVPs then all its “competitive” brands are potential partners.
In our practical reality, great brands are the results of constantly innovating themselves, and at the same time supporting a healthy ecosystem of biodiversity by being truly large-minded collaborators to each other.
Turning Competitors into Collaborators
In the early days of Microsoft and Apple, they first viewed each other as arch enemies fighting for dominance. Every force has its counter force in physics and in the business world. Until Bill Gates and Steve Jobs came to realize that Microsoft and Apple both would be better off with collaborative synergy, rather than fighting in a dog-eat-dog, laissez faire way of capitalism.
In Stephen Covey’s book “The Eighth Habit”, he defines “synergy” as 1 + 1 = 10. True leaders and visionaries who can scale up their brands by turning competitors into collaborators. Not only because they know that it is better to grow a larger pie together than fighting over the crumbs, but they EMBRACE competitors’ UVPs, and LEVERAGE them to complement and supplement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
In the process, each discovers and defines its true differentiators and strengthens one’s own UVPs, grows its team and multiplies market reach and influence.
Practical Issues for Collaboration
But, what is beautiful and idealistic in theory is not always the reality.
Practically, there are other important elements that will make or break healthy competition and/or collaboration. Evaluate prerequisites carefully before jumping into a collaborative relationship solely based on wishful thinking. Consider factors such as that it takes two equals to be true collaborators, and all competitors must respect the same sets of rules. Do you share the same mindsets and values? Are all the players on the same page in terms of trust and competence? Is it in your MUTUAL interest to invest in growing a long term collaborative relationship? Can you narrow your collaborative scope with another to be issue-specific if a full-scale partnership is not feasible? Make sure you are inviting a true like-minded team player rather than a thief or an advantage-taker.
At 10 Plus Brand, we build, grow and market business brands for companies and individuals, by mapping out a brand’s DNA™ with our proprietary process, creating brand narratives verbally and visually, on websites and social media with content, videos, graphic and web design. Call us at 1-888-288-4533, or email us at: info@10PlusBrand.com, or visit www.10PlusBrand.com.
Written by Joanne Tan, © 2019.
Edited by Glenn Perkins.