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company advantage
Created on April 2, 2015

What's Your Company's Advantage?

Written by Rod Anderson, CEO, Sandbox Brand Marketing

If you have read Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema’s book, ‘The Discipline of Market Leaders’, you are familiar with their break down of the three Market Disciplines or Strategies that will allow you to win within your category of business.

1.    Operational Excellence; based on low price and convenience. Walmart is the King of this.

2.    Customer Intimate; based on tailoring products and services for a specific clientele. Legal firms and many marketing agencies fall into this category.

3.    Product Innovation; based on creating products and services that are proprietary and unique. Apple is a great example to describe this category.

Recently, I to visited the campus of The Wizard Academy in Austin Texas, where I was exposed to why certain messages and words are memorable. They teach why implementing strategies that include thinking around “Third Gravitating Bodies” and “Particle Stacking” will drive growth for companies and brands. Roy H. Williams, proprietor of The Wizard Academy leads the program. Roy and his team create some of the most memorable advertising you see and hear in both Canada and the United States.

Years ago Roy introduced a fourth Market Discipline called “Path Dominance”, meaning you make yourself the only game in town. Budweiser achieves this by purchasing shelf space or owning pouring rights into many distribution channels, thus driving market share and revenue as a result. 

Recently a good friend of mine, Gair Maxwell of, spoke to a fifth Market Discipline called the Legend Leader. The Legend leader outshines is an approach where brand story outshines your products and services. Gair, a very gifted speaker, breaks down the stories that drive brands that have a Legend Leader approach, places like St Andrews Links, schools like Harvard, and sporting goods companies like Nike. Are any of these brands providing products or services that define them within their category in such a way that it out shines the edge that their brand story provides.

My observation is that although you need to be good at all five disciplines to survive in todays completive business world, it is vital that you choose one that you can deliver on better than any competitor in order to win. At Sandbox, Brand Inspired Marketing, most companies we research, and work with, compete in categories where they due not have a significant advantage in any of the first four disciplines list above. Where they can take a leadership position in their sector is by incorporating story to build a Legend Leader approach for their brand and marketing efforts. 

Every company we company we engage with is driven by a story that has yet to be written. These stories usually exist intuitively and guide the thinking behind the company and are integrated outwardly in the company’s values, culture, products and services. The power comes from uncovering the story behind company and brand and bringing this story to the market in meaningful ways. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, the story is built around the ‘why’”.

A great start is to measure your company against competition in in the first four Market Disciplines listed above. Honestly compare your business to your competitors in your sector to determine if you truly can take a sustainable position based on one of these areas. If so, you may not need to consider becoming a Legend leader. If you find you are not outstanding in one of the first four disciplines, consider how telling your company’s story would give your company dominance and true differentiation within your sector.