Is Your Business Model Distinctive?

The Harvard Business Review recently published a quick read called Your Whole Business Needs to be Distinctive, Not Just Your Product. In it they cite the normal line up of Apple and IKEA when it comes to something distinctive.

“The most effective companies don’t rely on distinctive products, services or brand for differentiation; instead, they focus on creating an enterprise so distinctive that it can create many products, services and brands, each more compelling than the next.”

How does this pertain to us?

  • A one-off distinctive product from Mondavi is not going to change the way people view that winery. However, a winery like The Scholium Project can’t be ignored in its brand distinctiveness. (Those that try to ignore Scholium because they don’t like the wines are missing the point of this conversation.)
  • A restaurant that promotes wine through run of the mill wine dinners and intriguing wine lists is not taking a stand in which they are willing to irritate some customers in exchange for press and attention. Note the success of the Summer of Riesling in 2008 at the Terroir Wine Bars of the New York area.
  • A retailer that tries to satisfy everybody only falls into the competitive trap of the mega-retailers. What to do? Differentiate yourself and play a different game.

In the end here’s a good way to measure distinctiveness: how do your customers describe your business to others? The answer might surprise you.

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