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Value innovation is about making the competition irrelevant by changing the playing field of strategy, writes EDWIN MOINDI.

KongōGumia, a construction company in Japan has existed for 1,400 years, while Beretta, the firearm multinational was founded in 1526. These brands outlived their founders by being flexible and relevant. KongōGumia had to sell coffins during World War II to stay afloat and Beretta had to expand vigorously and research its clients’ needs consistently.

Does the longevity of your company attest to the fact that your brand is different and relevant? To stay relevant, a brand has to be interesting. Seth Gordin talks about the purple cow experience. If for example you were driving through the Nandi highlands and noticed Friesian cows, your curiosity will rise if they are unnatural. As you see more cows, your interest would diminish until you come across a purple cow, which has never been seen. In life, people usually look for interesting things. However, how does one stand out in a market where everyone seems to be peddling the same product? How can one make the mundane interesting?

The Young and the Restless, an American soap opera which has been broadcasting from 1973 with syndication worldwide has been the number one daytime drama in America since 1989. It has stayed number one because it has the ability to keep its clientele at the edge of their seats. It makes them relate and engage with the content on display. They “own” the brand and customise it to their own divergent thought processes.

Being different and interesting

Organisations should uproot their DNA and strive to be interesting because at the core of being interesting is the word “risk”. Taking risks involves change, flexibility and discarding old perceptions. New ideas require one to engage the client extensively and continuously. Being able to say you are unique and different in a market means you have to be offering something that is needed by your clientele, which no one else offers.

The Blue Ocean Strategy developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne gives a unique identity to a business. It is about playing within a clear blue ocean, away from the bloodied red ocean of cut-throat competition where companies are busy fighting for smaller and smaller margins, dwindling shelf space and visibility in the marketplace.

Gordin stated that one needed to be remarkable, target a few early adopters, create a product they would love, let them be the evangelizers of the product and let them market it to the larger market. The value of the group is not related to its size but rather its influence.

Value to clients

To stand out, consider reconstructing your market boundary like Cirque du Soleil, who blend opera and ballet with circus or South West Airlines which offers flexibility of bus travel at the speed of air travel using secondary airports. Offer value innovation by creating value for the buyer, the company and its employees. This opens up new and uncontested market spaces.

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