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More And Less

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

We sometimes trick ourselves into believing we can have the best of both worlds. A foot in both camps. Full belly and cake on the plate. Working towards a goal means abandoning an alternative worldview. Brands like Mecca Cosmetica, Lululemon and Blue Bottle Coffee thrive because they are crystal clear about their identity. Like them, we have to choose what we will be more of and less of to create a successful business.

More about service, less about volume.
Less about scale, more about significance.
More about affinity, less about awareness.
Less about tomorrow’s results, more about lasting impact.
More about the right customers, less about the most customers.
Less about reach, more about resonance.
More about the long game, less about near-term gains.
Less about competing, more about mattering.

Being all things to everyone is never a sustainable option. The good news is you decide what stance to take.

Image by Sonny Abesamis

Questions Worth Asking

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The progress we make in business and in life hinges on our ability to ask the right questions at the right time. What we need to discern and prioritise are the questions it’s most important to address.

The questions we don’t know the answers to can be divided into three categories:

1. Questions that can’t be answered yet.
2. Questions that aren’t worth asking.
3. Questions we should be answering, but haven’t had the courage or thought to ask.

We spend the majority of our time going around in circles addressing one and two. But it’s three—the questions we haven’t considered that get us to where we want to go. It’s always harder to determine if this is the right path than to inquire, which way next.

What are the questions you’ve been afraid to or have forgotten to ask? These are ones worth answering.

Image by Alexis Mialaret

Copy And Paste

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

If you can copy and paste the same rejection and send it to every candidate is it worth responding?

If you can replicate your competitor’s innovations why bother to invest in your own ideas?

If you can multitask while you’re on a call to a customer was the call worth making?

If you can ignore the email for a week is that a relationship you value?

If you can pay for attention why worry about investing time to earn loyalty.

The point of the work isn’t simply to get it done. It’s to be proud of the way you’ve done it.

Image by Jacob Botter

Unlikely

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When you’re shopping at Uniqlo, it’s unlikely a sales assistant will ignore you. When you’re a visitor lost in Melbourne, it’s unlikely someone won’t stop to give you directions and a friendly smile. When you take a sip of Tea & Glory tea, it’s unlikely you’ll confuse it with a cup of Tetley.

The best brands are unmistakable, not only because of what the do and the way they do it but also because of the things they don’t and will never do. What are your customers unlikely to experience?

Image by Patrick Vierthaler

Present Tense Planning

filed in Brand Strategy

When surgeon and author Atul Gawande treats a terminal patient, he doesn’t assess the available options in ways a conventional medical team might have weighed them up in the past. Instead of wondering whether they should keep fighting or if the time has come to give up, he and his colleagues ask a different, more important question.

“What are we fighting for?” They are seeking to understand what a good day looks like for the patient, and then to treat him in a way that enables him to live that day until the end of his life.

Most of us are not making life and death decisions about our work, career paths or business growth, but we’re still planning for the future. We come unstuck while strategising tomorrow’s survival when we compromise on what’s important to us today.

What are you doing on your good days?
What choices do you need to make today to protect them?

Image by Kev Lewis

The Link Between Actions And Outcomes

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

When we set a goal to achieve a particular outcome, we zoom out to consider the big picture. And while a result is dependent on knowing what we’re aiming for, it also requires us to do the things that give us the best chance of accomplishing it. A successful attempt to get fit doesn’t hinge on joining the gym or buying the running shoes. It depends on us setting the alarm and doing up the laces.

What are the three smallest steps you can take today, and every day to get you to where you want to go? Start there—then do up your laces.

Image by Stefano Coroso

Gaining The Advantage

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Success

This week you answered a customer query and solved her problem. You responded to every email, tweaked your resume and made your case well in the last meeting. You ticked off the things on your to-do list, had a look at your numbers and made solid plans for the weeks ahead. And that’s exactly what your competitors did too.

We spend a lot of our time doing the busy work of trying to gain an advantage in an attempt to compete and win. It turns out that the most sustainable path to significance is to do the things that the competition would never dream of doing—the things that only you would do.

You don’t need to compete when you know who you are.

Image by chat des Balkans

In Praise Of Curiosity

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Not so long ago conversations with strangers just happened anywhere and everywhere. This was especially true in Dublin where I grew up. It was not unusual for someone you’d never met to practically tell you their life story while you were standing waiting for the 16A bus into the city. Showing an interest in other people, or being what some people might call, ‘nosy’ was part of our Irish DNA. That’s certainly changed the world over.

I’ll never forget the story author, Maeve Binchy once told during an interview, when she was asked where she got her ideas from and why her dialogue so good. She was sitting on a bus one day and overheard a conversation between two friends who were heading into town. One was planning to buy a 25th wedding anniversary card for her parents. “That’s nice.” her friend said. The couple’s daughter made a face. “Not at all, they have a terrible marriage,” she said. “But you know, the worse the marriage, the bigger the card.”

That conversation inspired Binchy to write her bestselling book, Silver Wedding.

Today, eyes down, earbuds in, thumbs scrolling, we are the losers. Our capacity to be interested is diminishing, as a result of our obsession with being interesting. We don’t know what we’re missing.

Image by Toshihiro Gamo

By How Much?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Our financial advisor, who lives in another state, almost 3,000km away, stayed for dinner after our annual appointment last night. Sarah spent time catching up with our boys, chatting to them about their plans for summer and beyond. We exchanged dessert recipes and movie recommendations. Of course, Sarah could have spent those three hours on more measurable or scalable business building tactics. The things that provide her with an immediate metric or result—proof that she’s making progress or doing a good job.

Every new client Sarah chooses to work with comes to her by word of mouth. She’s recommended because of her warmth and humanity, not just because of the measurable outcomes she delivers for clients.

Our best work is often the thing that’s not replicable, scalable or measurable. That’s why it’s our best work.

Image by Sebastian Sikora

A List Of Alternatives To Winning

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Alternatives To Winning

  • Caring
  • Helping
  • Being human
  • Growing wiser
  • Inspiring others
  • Righting wrongs
  • Upholding values
  • Giving generously
  • Learning patience
  • Prioritising values
  • Practicing empathy
  • Building community
  • Leading thoughtfully
  • Acting with integrity
  • Exploring possibilities
  • Encouraging progress
  • Making a contribution
  • Teaching perseverance
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Experiencing fulfilment
  • Working towards mastery
  • Changing how people feel
  • Questioning the status quo
  • Putting people before profits
  • Creating the future you want to see
  • Doing work you’re proud to have done

It turns out there are more ways to matter than just winning. We get to choose which boxes to tick.

Image by Odwalker