Defining Competition on Purpose

Revisit purpose. Clarify objectives. Build key strategies. Create ideas and tactics. Repeat.

This is an oversimplified version of the traditional planning process, but we’ve all been there.

At some point, someone says, “Let’s do a competitive review.” From there, clients do an intra-category business overview and the agency assesses the sea of advertising sameness.

I believe this approach is flawed for two main reasons. First, it encourages brands and agencies to navel gaze within their own category (SEE:  sea of ad sameness). Second, it stuns a brand’s ability to become motivated by what really matters to people: its purpose.

Don’t let the status quo convince you to conduct the proverbial competitive review. Rather, gather insights and inspiration from brands that share your values and a like-minded purpose. Let purpose define your competition, not categories or advertisements.

Let’s use Uber as an example. Their purpose is to evolve the way the world moves. My guess would be that they’re less concerned about what Lyft and Sidecar are doing and more interested in how brands like Airbnb, Amazon and Virgin are innovating their way to making the world move better. 

Staring at the competition staring right back at you is a monotonous endeavor. By taking a step back and thinking about which brands we aspire to have in our company, we’ll have a better chance of stumbling into the inspiration we’re looking for to make our brands more meaningful.