When you teach someone how to throw a baseball, you tell them to look where they want the ball to go, step toward where they want the ball to go, and then throw the ball where they want it to go. To the novice thrower, this can sound frustratingly uninstructive. So, too, is the simple complexity that is viewing your business in a way that narrows your perspective to one that can provide an experience that is specific, unique, and superior to all the others.
The strongest brands have a clear focus on what they do, what they want to stand for, and to whom they can provide it, and they offer what they do in the same way and with the same quality every time they do it. The clearer the focus, the stronger the brand. Companies that try to veer off the path—getting into what they consider collateral offerings—often get into trouble. Consumers are smart enough to question the connection. A key factor in brand success is to concentrate on what you do and do it well.
As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once said to me in a conversation a few years back, “Average is over.” In this hyper-connected world, “good enough” is no longer enough.
Taking this one step further, relative to seeing new opportunities, consider how to “unbundle” one particular dimension of an experience and then become the expert in that area. This is a lens that has provided success to a number of market innovators.
And it often starts with standing up and moving from behind your desk, putting down your phone, and looking away from your screens. You have to exist in the world where you want to succeed. If you don’t know what it’s like to shop at a supermarket, you are unlikely to understand how to create an experience that will make your supermarket do something that no one else does. All of this is easier said than done, of course. When Friedman and I talked about how the idea for his book Thank You for Being Late originated, he told me that he never minded if one of his appointments ran late and he was left waiting in reception for longer than expected. He always saw this as a gift of unstructured time in a space that he hadn’t chosen, and it’s where he’s had some of his best ideas or come to an idea for a solution to a previously intractable problem.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Allen Adamson. Excerpted from Seeing the How: Transforming What People Do, Not Buy, To Gain Market Advantage, copyright © 2023 by Allen P. Adamson. Reprinted with permission from Matt Holt Books, an imprint of BenBella Books, Inc. All rights reserved.
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