Mar 5, 2015

Focus Your Brand To Win

Where does your brand play? How does it win?

These are two of the most important questions in defining your brand strategy. It’s a matter of positioning and focusing your business.

A company that defines where it plays and how it wins can create a substantial competitive advantage. They appear to always be one step ahead while their competition is duking it out over features, price, and relationships.

As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

When you define where to play and how to win your brand will be where the customer is going to be.

Choose Your Playfield

Focus your brand by deciding where you will play: market segments, business needs, distribution channels, or verticals.

Roger Martin’s book, Playing To Win, has been influential on my thinking in this area. He writes, “Focus is a crucial winning attribute. Attempting to be all things to all customers tends to result in underserving everyone. Even the strongest company or brand will be positioned to serve some customers better than others.”

How can you segment your marketplace, product categories, or customers to serve a clear group that plays to your firm’s strengths? Who can you serve better than anyone else?

Commit To Win

Choosing the right playing field is only part of the branding equation. How are you going to win on that playing field?

Another book I refer to frequently is Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. It argues, “Target a specific niche market as your point of attack and focus all your resources on achieving the dominant leadership position in that segment.”

Moore takes the idea of the playing field — a niche market — and emphasizes focus. Choose your market and commit to it. Put everything on the line to win.

Moore continues, “If you are committing an act of aggression [working to be the dominant player in your niche], you’d better have the force to back it up. Or, to put this in terms closer to our immediate topic, marketing is warfare — not wordfare.”

Generalists and Dabblers Never Win

The easy decision for a company is to accept any customer that walks in the door. If someone is willing to pay them they take it — the perception is revenue is revenue. 

But not all customers are good customers, and not all market segments are the right segments. Sticky Brands set the conditions for success by making deliberate decisions of where to play and how to win.

Wayne Gretzky had it figured out. He played where the puck was going to be. He wasn’t concerned with where everyone else was skating. He played his own game. He played to his strengths and became “The Great One.”

You have a similar opportunity for your brand. Make the decisions now of where your brand plays, how it wins, and then commit every resource to achieve that victory.

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