Mary and Tom brought in a pile of sand and dumped it in their back yard for their daughter Jan to play in. By the end of the summer, how much sand do you think was left? If you said not very much, you are correct.
On the same day, their neighbors Joan and Bob brought in the same amount of sand and placed it into their son’s sand box. They taught Bobby that sand belongs in the sand box and encouraged him to play as much as he liked, and to return any piles of sand that accidentally landed outside the sand box back in. By the end of the summer, how much sand do you think Bobby had left? If you said more than Jan, you are again correct.
What does any of this have to do with small business? That is a good question.
You see, your internal brand is a bit like a sand box. The four elements of your brand: the vision, mission, values, and company belief systems are the four sides of your sand box. What the sand box does for you is to define your area of strength - the area where you plan to dominate the market. This helps you:
- Be more flexible
- Be more focused
- Avoid shiny baubles
Flexible: Making decisions on the fly becomes a simple task. When faced with an unexpected opportunity, instead of wondering if you are making the right decision you will be certain. If it falls within your internal brand identity, you will know to turn on a dime to take advantage of and quickly leverage the opportunity.
Focused: It becomes easier to stay the course and truly focus on those things that are important to the growth you desire. How? Just being aware of when you are leaving your sandbox will enable you to spend less time outside of it. By consistently focusing on tasks and strategies that strengthen your internal brand, you will become more focused on a smaller patch of ground. That laser-like focus enables you to get more done, and to get the right stuff done.
Shiny Baubles: Shiny baubles are distractions that look like opportunities. When you are unsure of your brand identity and what your company stands for, it is very easy to get distracted by shiny baubles. An example of a shiny bauble is getting involved in FaceBook because a social media expert has convinced you that it’s the wave of the future and you need to be there. However, if you are a head hunter specializing in top executives, you may be better off concentrating on leveraging LinkedIn. In other words, FaceBook is outside of your sand box.
Clearly identifying your sand box provides clarity in one additional way. Once you have identified your sand box, you want to concentrate on playing within your sand box and staying out of everyone else’s, even your highly successful competitor. The best way to beat out, or at least gain on the competition is to concentrate on your unique strengths and consistently make them stronger. The only chance you have of beating out your top competitor is by being the best ‘you’ you can possibly be.
Are you ready to be focused and flexible? Then follow these two steps:
- Clearly identify your sand box (your internal brand identity)
- Play in your own sand box (and stay out of the neighbors’).