May 22, 2014

Your Strengths May Not Be Sufficient

Every company has strengths — things they do remarkably well. Your company could be strong in design, customer service, sales, engineering or a combination of areas.

But are your strengths enough to differentiate your business? Maybe not.

Your strengths enable your company to be successful and deliver a strong value proposition, but they may not be enough to separate your firm from the competition.

Strengths are table stakes

The Central Group (featured here and here) manufacture corrugated displays and packaging, and they are really good at it.

They operate four facilities with over 400,000,000 square feet. They are constantly investing in new equipment, systems and technology to improve their productivity and capabilities. And they are ISO certified with a deep investment in environmental accreditations.

But as Rick Eastwood, President of Central points out, manufacturing attractive, functional packaging and displays are table stakes in his industry. All of their major competitors can deliver well designed displays. The gap is whether the display can increase the clients’ sales at retail or not.

Strengths are required just to play the game. But they don’t separate one firm from the next.

Recognized as the “best”

Differentiating your brand does not originate from your firm’s collective strengths. It originates out of one identifiable strength.

What do you do better than anyone else? What strength do people seek you out for?

Apple is known first and foremost for their design. That’s their number one strength. Starbuck’s primary strength is they offer a “third place” for people to congregate and have a treat. Google is known for search, and their ability to “organize the world’s information.”

What about your firm? What are you known for?

Differentiation is created by isolating and magnifying your primary strength, and baking it into everything you do.

Only one company can be the best

The wrinkle in finding your company’s primary strength is choosing one that your competitors don’t already own.

Only one company can be perceived as the best in a category. For example, Apple has design, and Toshiba, Dell and HP cannot claim that strength. Apple owns that strength, and that’s what differentiates them in their marketplace.

What strength can your company own?

Find a strength that is unique to your company that none of your competitors have already claimed, and own it. Make it yours. Protect it. Invest in it. Make it be that one defining strength that differentiates your brand from everyone else.

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