Be a Loud Brand, but be Careful

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Regardless of whatever industry in which you find yourself, success is often measured by the market share your business possesses.

Beyond the spreadsheets and the shareholder value, it all boils down to how much you control in the market.

There are very few monopolies in any marketplace, which means competition exists in nearly every industry. That also means that there is huge responsibility to not only make waves in your industry but also stay aware of how the waves of others affect you.

In other words: you have to stand out in some way, but be aware of what your competitors are doing as well.

You’ll want to stay relevant so you can attract the best people and stay on top of your industry. Usually relevance is best earned through doing good work, but don’t forget about ways to go above and beyond outside of your work too. (Think about Tesla and SpaceX, who saw that coming?)

The extension of this idea, to stand out and connect with your clientele outside of the office, is always valuable in building a better business and a stronger, more personable brand.

My industry, for example, is mortgaging. Now mortgaging is not necessarily a “cool” kind of industry. We do not have the luxury of creating massive, fun, brand activations that soda companies or snack companies might have, so we don’t focus on that, we work with our strengths.

Don’t ever think that there isn’t a way to amp up your company and brand to the consumer. There always is. And you can always find one that will positively impact your business without detracting from your competitors.

Some ideas may not work for your kind of business and your success with a strategy may be smaller than you hoped. That’s okay, learn from your mistakes. You might not have the funds to sponsor a massive sporting event either! That is okay too, so long as you try, even in the smallest of places.

Keep in mind that the more attention you bring yourself, the more likely that rivals will notice and try to outdo you. More often than not, it is not a personal attack but common business sense. They want to make their stake in the industry as large and stable as possible and so do you.

Competitor usually does not mean rival.

Sure, some will be. The Yankees and Red Sox are prime examples of that. But those are 2 out of 30 teams, meaning the other 28 teams are just competitors.

And even rivals can treat each other well. If you paid attention to the rivalry matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens this last weekend, you might have seen the sign below, referencing the shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue.

Photo from @RichieWalsh


Knowing how to advance your brand without taking others down is a good business lesson to learn, no matter who you are or where you work. Being a military veteran, I know the difference, trust me!

But remember that a competitor taking notice of you means that you are doing something right.

Use the opportunity to push back on them, too. I don’t recommend getting into in all out fight with business rivals — making others mad is not what you want, but staying competitive is healthy.

You will probably lose the edge on a competitor someday. It is inevitable for all businesses: fax machines and VHS rentals don’t last forever. Market shares fall as an industry gets more saturated or changes over time. When this happens, don’t give up on your drive to make a difference.

Never settle.

You may have to pause your strategy and reassess who you are and who you want to be, but don’t try and stay the same, don’t fall for the trap of “doing what has always been done.” Plan ahead as much as possible for the upsets that a competitor might bring and don’t let them get in your head if they try.

Play fair, but make your mark and be prepared for the pushback.