Smart brands put All the Wood Behind the Arrow(s) by developing core competitive advantages in a few select areas to win at the point of attack and maintain their market presence against great offs and greater giants.  What key takeaways can we extract from these companies?

Culture comes from you.  Where you find your cultural heritage, your deep passion for an area of excellence, is a deeply personal choice.  You may be committed to doing the right thing for planet earth and you may simply find electromagnetic protective relays to be "beautiful, beautiful things."

The core of Method's business resides in their deeply felt belief that there should be a better way to clean.  This wasn't an idea that sprung from a research panel but from a personal conviction on the part of hits founders that the world wasn't right without a sustainable, ecologically sound detergent--and one that happened to smell nice and come in an attractive package too.

Dr. Ed Schweitzer (Schweitzer Engineering) saw beauty in electromagnetic protective relays.  His calling came to him very clearly, and after speaking with him, it seemed that it would have been impossible for him to have chosen a direction in life too far from this area.  He didn't gouge his customers.  he wanted the product to help people.  The brand's culture was firmly rooted in honesty and integrity.

This isn't a decision made from marketing research.  This comes from your sense of who you are, no matter whether you were born a Boeotian or an engineer.  Your culture is your soul.

Functional expertise is something that comes from what you do for others.  Whatever you choose to excel in, it has to matter to your customers or channel partners.  Method became the flag bearer for the "clean detergent" category by virtue of its formulation and its attention to customer experience.  Without the experience, the formulation would have been ignores as just another unknown brand--while without the formulation, the user experience would have likely missed a large part of its intended market.

Your functional expertise is your craft, your vacation.


Contributed by Stephen Denny, Keynote Speaker & Author of Killing Giants, 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry.