The business world is rapidly evolving, and the business ecosystem has never before seen this level of competitiveness as seen in the 21st century. Companies are fighting to become market leaders in their industry, they are building brands and products that are not only meeting the needs of consumers, but they are doing it in ways that are both experiential and consumer-centric.
For startups and young companies, building this kind of brands requires a lot more than just having a great product or a revolutionary idea in the market. Building a brand that is both competitive and outstanding, a more strategic approach has to be adopted. Businesses have to clearly and intentionally distinguish themselves from the competition and position themselves in their market.
A good way to doing this is through this framework displayed below;
When customers make buying decisions, they always take into consideration the three factors highlighted in this framework.
- Operational excellence of the brand
- Performance superiority of the product
- Customer-centricity of the brand.
To be a leader in your market, or to differentiate your brand from others within your market, you have to be well-positioned to meet these three criteria. Not necessarily positioning to be a leader in all three, but at least being a leader in one aspect and providing fair value in the other two areas.
- Operational Excellence; in simple terms, this is the ability for your brand to be able to deliver 100% on its promises to your clients on the product/service or value you are providing for them. For example; for a courier business, operational excellence will be on-time delivery of packages and proper handling and management of packages 100% 0f the time.
- Performance Superiority; this is the aspect where your product or service does better than whatever product or substitute to your product there is in the market. For example; for a vacuum cleaning production company, performance superiority is having a product that cleans better than whatever vacuum cleaner there is in the market.
- Customer-Centricity; this simply means operating a brand that is 100% all about the consumers. A brand that builds based on the customer’s feedbacks, a brand that follow-ups on a customer after purchase, etc.
Choosing an aspect where you can be a leader depends on your target audience, how you want your brand to be projected to this audience, what level of value you want to provide to them, and the type of story you want to tell using your brand.
A good example to cite for this framework is the Apple brand.
Apple has positioned itself to be a leader in the area of Performance Superiority (Innovations). This has guided the brand’s performance and position in their industry. It has guided its internal affairs like; brand decision making, product offerings, human resource skills, and even investment options.
We can all agree that in the entire electronics industry, we all look to Apple for tech innovation, but not for the best customer-centric products or operational excellence in terms of things like low product cost or product delivery/support. This is because they have selected an area where they will be the market leader and the other areas where they will deliver fair value to their customers, and they have remained steadfast to this.
So as a startup or a growing company, it is very important to strategically decide how you want to be seen in your market. Select an area where you will be a market leader in your industry and other areas where you will deliver fair value. Choosing these areas and sticking to them religiously, won’t only make you stand out in your marketplace, but also, it will make decision making easier for your company.