Albert Einstein famously said, If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
Who are we to argue with Einstein?
Typically, when a company makes the decision to rebrand, leadership will often focus on redefining and/or improving its key attributes associated with product quality, service delivery and beating the competition.
- How can we become more innovative and disrupt the industry?
- How can we improve product quality and service delivery to reposition the competition?
- In what ways can we become leaders?
- How can we better meet the needs of our customers?
- How are we better than our competitors?
- How can we be the number one choice in our industry?
Although these are all important questions that will yield valuable insights into a rebranding effort, such questions force people into compartmentalized thinking. None of these questions on their own – or even collectively – will answer this broader, much more important question that will lead to building a brand of excellence:
“If I were to build a company that would put mine out of business, how would I do it?”
[Brand: A set of distinctions a company owns that make a positive and noteworthy difference in the lives of its customers.]
Asking this question will naturally place you in the mindset needed to build the strongest possible brand for your company simply because it will motivate you to examine every component of your business from the ground up, starting with your business plan.
Also, notice how this question is directed inward to the soul of your company versus how your company can beat your competitors, or even put them out of business. There are several reasons for this…
FIRST: Focusing on your competitors requires you to look outward versus inward which is non-productive and a waste of energy unless you’re interested in acquiring one of them. It is much more productive to compare yourself and your company to who and what you were yesterday than to what another company is today.
Plus, it isn’t fair to you to compare yourself to another company that has its own unique business plan, its own approach to business growth and sales, and its own unique resources and goals. In other words, building a brand of excellence can only be done by focusing on your own company – not a company of which you have zero control.
Yes, you certainly do need to know who your competitors are – their strengths, weaknesses, offerings and brand position. However, building a brand to exploit their weaknesses, for example, may not even be achievable, would likely be unsustainable, and may not even meet the primary needs of your customers.
SECOND: You will always have competitors – some stronger and larger, and some smaller and weaker than you. At Seroka Industrial Branding, we have a client with $112 million in sales competing with three companies, each boasting more than $1 billion in annual sales. Our client can barely keep up with customer orders because they have such an impressive reputation and following in their industry.
The reason? It’s because their brand reputation was built on a solid foundation of exceptional performance and delivery instead of a multi-million dollar marketing spend. Which would you rather have?
THIRD: It’s a shallow and weak strategy. Competition is both healthy and good. Competitors push companies to perform at their best: competition inspires innovation, keeps companies ethical, and provides customers with options. In many ways, competition is the antidote to apathy and mediocrity. Take the high road with your brand by welcoming competition and not fighting it.
Building a brand of excellence will require an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in all facets of an organization, and you’ll need to create and foster a strong culture to drive it forward.