The Strategic Advantage

Dealing with the competition is the job of strategy.

And a successful strategy will deal with the competition in a deliberately different way. Looking for ways to combine different sets of activities that will deliver a unique mix of value to the desired audience.

Done well, and those activities fit and reinforce one another. Done wrong, and they’re nothing but a collective of parts.

This is the difference between being a ‘me too’ brand and an innovator. A me-too brand will seek to make incremental improvements to existing products, while innovators will look for ways to combine different sets of activities that result in something new.

It’s how Southwest Airlines became the most profitable airline in North America. Differentiating itself with low fares, frequent departures, point-to-point flights, and customer-pleasing service.

And why Apple dominated the digital music player market even though it wasn't the first to introduce such a product. Creating a new business model that combined its capabilities in hardware, software, and service to produce an entirely new ecosystem for customers to purchase and listen to digital music—iTunes.

Toyota’s strategy in developing their hybrid engine Prius was to create a competitive advantage within an important segment of eco-conscious buyers. With the additional hope that it would also help provide them with a competitive advantage over the competition moving into the future.

There are a number of ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Strategies can be based on low-cost leadership, focus, or technical differentiation. When you're working in a competitive field, it's essential to do whatever you can to create a distinct advantage that will help you rise above everyone else. One of the best ways to do that is by taking a strategic approach to your business—one that aligns your business needs with your brand needs. The sooner you start doing that, the better off you'll be.

Tanner Garniss-Marsh takes the guesswork out of branding, helping leaders grow their business with branding they and their customers love.


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