Brand Predator: Adaptability is the New Competitive Business Advantage


We’ve spent the past week with our eyes glued to Discovery’s Shark Week extravaganza, during which time we’ve gleaned some invaluable insights about how these fearsome apex predators have made their way to the top of the food chain. One that we keep coming back to is how sharks have continuously adapted and evolved in order to keep their place at the top. Why has that resonated so much with us? Because adaptability is the new competitive advantage.

Adaptation Means Specialization

Sharks date back an incredible 420 million years. Over that time, these finely evolved predators have evolved into 470 different species, each with their own specialized skills for thriving in a particular environment. The ability to adapt to different food sources, water temperatures, and different hunting methods have made sharks the hunters that they are today. While a “generalist” shark might still make for a decent killer, there’s no denying that it’s the perfectly honed skills and traits of these individual species that make them truly fearsome predators.

The same is true of brands. While many start off as generalists – selling clothing or providing accounting services – it’s only when they start to home in on a specific niche or business model that they really become an awe-inspiring presence. Angry Orchard specializes in hard cider and only hard cider. Warby Parker focuses on glasses frames, not anything else. There’s a reason for this.

Specialized brands:

  • are considered authorities in their field
  • command higher price points
  • can easily target and segment their audiences
  • enjoy higher conversions
  • can leverage its brand positioning and expertise
  • more easily remain ahead of the curve.

Specialized brands are the sharks of the business world. They take a long-term view – and continue to work towards it at all costs.

Adapt or Face Extinction

Adaptation isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s crucial to success in business and marketing. Your brand needs to be aware of its current capabilities and be ready to refine them or change direction when market conditions call for it. Failure to do so can result in lost market share, or at worst, extinction. Remember Polaroid, Blockbuster Video, and Borders? All were behemoths who failed to adapt and are now consigned to the history books.

Remember, it’s not only the attributes of your business that are open to adaptation. Your products, services, messaging, or brand positioning can all be changed as well. Just as a shark must quickly adjust how it deals with certain hunting conditions, your brand must be ready to alter its course to take advantage of new trends, technologies, or advances.

You can do this by:

  • embracing new marketing channels
  • rebranding or refreshing your brand
  • repositioning your brand
  • adjusting your messaging
  • going after new market segments
  • expanding or narrowing your offering
  • trying new business models

Successful brands marry their long-term goals with shorter-term objectives that can be easily adjusted as needed – exactly as a shark uses different hunting techniques depending on local currents or conditions.

Adaptability Means Success

If you want your brand to enjoy shark-like longevity along with truly killer profitability, your brand must be able to adapt and evolve. This can mean specialization in the long-term or being open to new messaging, marketing, or positioning in the shorter-term. Combine the two, and you’ll be primed for killer success.

Need help setting a new course for your business? Call in the experts for help.

See Also:

Hire Like a Shark: Tips for Sinking Your Teeth into the Best Candidates

Shark Week: Competitive Business Analysis Reveals Predators Lurking Under the Surface

Sink or Swim: How to Survive in a Competitive Marketplace

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