The term "disruption" is losing its luster. As every brand struggles to stand out in a sea of sameness, many leaders are left to wonder: is building a disruptive brand even possible?
Taking down industry behemoths and elbowing your way into the conversation is no easy feat, even for brilliant entrepreneurs.
But it can be done.
In less than five years, Dollar Shave Club broke through the men's shaving industry like a band of insurgents, shook up the old folks home at Gillette and got a whopping $1 billion from Unilever just to pipe down.
There's a rare breed of disruptive brand-building pioneers emerging, and they're not doing it the way your daddy built his business. True disruption these days requires a much deeper level of dedication than what most leaders are willing to commit.
What does it take to out-brand, out-innovate and out-execute your competition? Here's what every leader needs to know about genuine, earth-shaking disruption:
1. Get Uncomfortable
In a video by Create Your Future Life, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski explains how lobsters grow. Using lobsters as a metaphor for personal development, Twerski says that in order to get bigger, they must leave their confining, protective shell numerous times in life in order to produce a new one. "The stimulus for a lobster to grow is that it feels uncomfortable," he explains.
Comfortable leaders build mediocre brands. Great leaders build extraordinary companies and brands. If you want to be disruptive, you need to get out of your comfort zone and make room for opportunities to break your own shell.
2. Change the Conversation
Disruption cannot be delivered to the world as a plain ol' vanilla cupcake. If your brand doesn't offer a captivating idea or an unconventional story, no one will hear you.
Take a look at Prohibition Bakery, which successfully attracted a mass following during America's seemingly impenetrable cupcake craze. The bakery's chef and bartender duo combined two things people love--booze and baked goods--in an ingenious way. Cupcake flavors like Car Bomb, Pretzels & Beer, and Scotch & Cigar position Prohibition Bakery on an entirely different playing field than ordinary bakeries.
Do you want to separate yourself from your competitors and take their customers with you? Then change the conversation and inspire your audience.
3. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Many companies make the mistake of prioritizing product development over brand development. It's one of the most costly mistakes companies do. You're building a brand from the moment the idea is born and the moment you ask people to support you. Failing to invest and think about brand, can be the difference between success or failure.
Let's examine jeans brand Hiut Denim. For three decades, the small town of Cardigan, Wales was the epicenter of jean manufacturing in Britain. Then one day the factory closed and people lost their livelihood.
Huit Denim's founder David Hieatt decided to bring those jobs back. Sure, it would've been more affordable to open a factory elsewhere, but there was value in leveraging the history and experience of the local Wales town.
Put a great deal of time, money, and love into your brand--your success depends on it.
4. Predict the Future
Extraordinary companies anticipate what's ahead of the curve. As Al Ries explains in "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding," brands who want to rise above the competition must create a new category in which no competition exists.
An iconic example is Slack, which used a dynamic personality, a humorous tone, and interactive features to grow its popularity. Slack was the first company to define this new approach to communication, and other brands have been unable to compete.
A brand must first anticipate changes and then act upon them in order to truly pioneer industry change.
5. See the Forest and the Trees
It's easy to let details slip by when you're focused on stressful demands like driving revenue and boosting awareness. But details overlooked comprise your brand's big picture. Disregarding the details means you're disregarding your brand's long-term value.
Plant-based meat company Beyond Meat shows why a big-picture approach is so important. The company's goal was to create a viable protein alternative to satisfy the masses. In a society that eats so much meat, this would only be possible with products that looked and tasted like the real thing.
After nearly a decade of lab testing, Beyond Meat was able to create a plant-based burger that really sizzled and bled, effectively outlining a new future for protein as we know it.
View every small detail as a new opportunity to strengthen your brand and never lose sight of how every decision, nuance and detail impact the larger picture.