How American Baseball taught us the Golden Rule of Brand Differentiation.

brand differentiation agency

Differentiation works in Major League Baseball too.
Re-reading Marty Neumeier’s book ‘Zag’ this week, I was fascinated by the story of America’s shortest ever professional baseball, Willie Keeler. Wee Willie, as he was known back in the good ol’ politically incorrect days of the 1890s stood at just 5 foot four and weighed 64kgs. Keeler played with a bat the size most commonly used by junior baseballers learning the game, yet somehow he amassed an incredible streak of 200-hit seasons that spanned from 1894 to 1902. After playing 19 years in the Major Leagues he retired with a lifetime batting average of .347, placing him in the top 0.01% of baseballers, all-time.

So how did Wee Willie manage to build such a massively successful business of hitting runs in the Major League when his natural attributes were not well suited to the task. If Keeler was in business, many would have told him to change his trade. The competition was just far too strong, with so many other bigger, stronger baseball’s much better suited to hitting it out of the ballpark, how could he possibly succeed.

Turns-out Wee Willie applied a differentiated mindset. He was well known for his simple philosophy of ‘hitting ‘em where they aint’ – and he made a damned good career from his approach. Keelers approach was all about brains over brawn. At a time when his competition was only thinking brawn, Keeler learned how to find the spaces between the fielders.

Which is the first golden rule of differentiation. For most businesses, a lack of preparedness to step outside the paradigms of their category mean they are drawn into trying to out-muscle the competition to hit the ball cleanser and further. The problem with that approach is it’s touch to achieve, almost impossible to sustain, and as history shows, someone is always bound to turn up who can hit the ball further than you. And when that happens you’re left with very little brand equity.

But the differentiators, the different thinkers of the business world are able to look at that same competitive baseball pitch and spot the gaps between the fielders, exploring each of them for a rich opportunity to tap into an untapped market, to meet an unmet need. This is the reasons we build differentiation into our branding process. Applying this same mindset allows us to guide business and their brands to new and lucrative opportunities, successfully launching and re-positioning them for immediate growth and sustainable, profitable success.

If this approach has the elements you’re looking for to build your brand, we’d love to talk through some of our case studies to demonstrate to power of differentiation approach. Give us a call and we’ll make a time to meet.

Meanwhile – happy batting.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more at…
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