Last week I stumbled upon a fascinating TED speech. Shawn Achor’s “The Happy Secret To Better Work.” But instead of just liking, tweeting or sharing it for its intrinsic value – and I highly recommend you watch it for that – it points to the main skill of brand stewardship: escaping the average.
Here's to finding ways to escape from norm to outlier…from commodity to brand.
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, but, as I write this in my shorts and flip-flops, enjoying a balmy 74 degrees here in California, I decided to rename it "Hedgehog Day" from this year forward. February 2 will henceforth be the day where you forecast the scale potential of your brand…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Remember the “Hedgehog” concept from Jim Collins' Good to Great? In a nutshell, the Hedgehog is doing one thing and doing it well. In the book Collins uses the parable of the clever, devious fox and the simple hedgehog. The fox keeps coming up with new ideas, but the hedgehog handily defeats him by doing his one trick: rolling into a thorny ball.
The example he uses is Walgreens. During the 1980s, Charles “Cork” Walgreen III transformed the lackluster company by getting rid of more than 500 restaurants – approximately half of the company’s footprint – and refocusing (read: rebranding) the business on becoming the most convenient “corner” drug store. It was an emotional decision because Walgreens invented the malted milk shake, his grandfather started in food service, and the restaurants Walgreen dumped included those named after him, Corky’s.
But it was the right thing to do if Walgreens was to be the best at something and scale. He gave his team five years to accomplish the task. When after six months, no progress had been made, he told his team they now had four and half years. Then, they got busy. With that narrowed brand focus, Walgreens grew to 8,210 locations, offering drive-through and 24-hour pharmacies literally always on the corners of busy intersections.
So why am I renaming and celebrating Hedgehog day? Because it gives me a definite day to converse with my clients about three critical questions – assessing the scale potential of their brand. The Hedgehog questions, if you will:
1. Can you be the best at something you do…and are you doing that?
2. Are you passionate about that something?
3. Does that something make you a living?
Answer yes to all three, and all you have to do is curl yourself up into a thorny ball and scale your brand. Now isn’t that a better use of forecasting than Punxsutawney Phil’s lackluster accuracy in predicting the weather for the next six weeks?
Happy Hedgehog Day!