Imagine an industry. You can pick any industry, but we’ll go with furniture making. For years and years and years, the furniture industry is essentially stagnant. New players enter the market and older players leave. Some businesses get bigger, others fold. There is balance.
For the purposes of this little story, we’ll say there are 100 players in the game. We’ll assume they, like any other stagnant industry, operate on a bell curve. A few radical players at each end of all the spectrums, and a whole bunch in the middle.
Then something happens that changes the way the furniture making business works. We’ll say it’s the green movement. All of a sudden, the market is demanding green products. People are going bananas for Mother Earth.
What happens to the players?
All the dudes in the middle flock to the eco end of the spectrum. Instead of a bell curve, you have 99 newly minted vegans and one neanderthal who clubs his breakfast to death.
This is not ideal, but it’s probably not going to bankrupt anyone.
But what happens next?
Seeing their success, a bunch of other dudes think, “Hey, I heard there’s money in green furniture” and they hang up their shingles as the makers of bamboo coffee tables. Instead of 100 players across the eco-spectrum, you’ve got 1000 players all at one end. The market is flooded, but that’s cool for a while, because bamboo coffee tables are all the rage.
But what happens next?
The customer cannot differentiate between Tree Huggin’ Harry and Granola Munchin’ Mike. They are confused, and so they do nothing. They make do with the coffee table they already have. Harry and Mike are living in their Prius.
Now imagine you had one guy who said, “Screw the environment. I’m killing elephants with nothing but my bare hands and a tractor wheel and then I’m gonna make lamps from their trunks. BOO-yah.”
What happens to that guy?
He gets really, really rich.
Because now, while you have 1000 people competing for 90% market share (the newly eco chic), you have 1 guy with the other 10% (Sarah Palin) all to himself.
Thank you, Naomi. What’s the point?
Make a very consistent branding statement. Consistent to the point where it makes you a teensy bit sick. And make that branding statement the polar opposite of what is favored by everybody else.