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Constrain yourself: How to outthink your competitorsConstrain yourself: How to outthink your competitors
November 24, 2021

Constrain yourself: How to outthink your competitors

Constraints are your best friend

We're often led to believe that life would be easier if we had more money, more time, more skill but that's rarely true. In fact, it's the limitations in life that force us to think and get creative.

A great example is the British game show Countdown; 4 players, 9 letters, 30 seconds, and you've got a show that's been around since 1982.

So don't think of constraints as constraints, think of them as your best friend. Think quick, get creative with what you have and produce something you've never tried before. The result will probably be something new, exciting and an efficient use of your resources!

When it comes to building a strong brand, constraints open up new lines of creativity and resourcefulness.

They help you think about things differently, in a way you might not have done if you had all the money or time in the world, and, most importantly, they help you outsmart your competitors.

When you're ready to throw everything you have into building the brand of your dreams, you don't want any obstacles. But the truth is, there will be tonnes of them. The trick is to see them as a good thing. When you have all the resources available, it can be challenging to focus and know where to begin/what will bring you the best results — it can be paralysing.

The more limitations you have, the fewer decisions you have to make and the clearer your decision-making framework becomes.

Imagine this - the big players you're going up against throw all the resources they can at solving the same problem as you. They create a product they can market to as many people as possible because they can. How can you possibly compete?

You, a minor player on the battlefield of your industry, have very little money and only yourself to build your product and market it.

What do you do?

You get creative and a little crafty. You've got a similar product and you can't afford to market to everyone, so you identify an audience and position yourself just for that niche as the very best option for them.

The goal is a hyper-differentiated positioning for your brand in customers minds — they can't not choose you because it feels like you created your brand solely for them.

Maybe, you add design constraints for your whole business to be more innovative.

A clothing brand with just one product?

A moisturising cream only for people with a particular skin condition?

A snack brand just for people who love anything with peanut butter?

At Squeeze, we're about building the mindset and then sharing the tools for creating an epic brand - the brand only you can build.

So what we're saying is this - don't let constraints get in the way of building out your dream. Embrace them and use them to your advantage.

The more limitations you have, the fewer decisions you have to make and the clearer the decision-making framework becomes.

You're forced to get creative, resourceful and focused.

Articles we think you'll find useful

  1. Phil Hansen’s Ted Talk: The Power of Constraints
  2. Paynter team: Constraints make you interesting
  3. Vikas Hazrati: Constraints are Advantages in Disguise

Some honest and practical advice

Constraints, limitations and a 'that's not possible' mentality can get us down. But if there's something you want to do, a change you want to make or a problem worth solving, reframe your constraints and use them to your advantage.

When thinking about how to position your brand and stand out against the competition try this exercise:

  1. Write down all your constraints
  2. Think about your ideal customer and add more constraints that mean you only serve them
  3. Now start thinking about your brand within those constraints, ignore the 'what if we had' thoughts and use what you do have

Brands you can learn a lot from

Paynter - the jacket brand that only sells one product each quarter (and they sell out very quickly).

Thursday - the dating app going up against the big players by limiting itself to being open just one day each week.

@ErinOutdoors, a photographer on Instagram experienced lockdown over the pandemic like the rest of us. She couldn't go out so she brought her passion indoors to create #ErinsGreatIndoors and her personal brand and community grew massively.

That's it for this week. We're working fast now to launch the first version of our website and community space.

Something I need help with - if you're working on a brand right now and have your vision and mission nailed, I'd love to feature you on our Brand Examples directory.

Fire over those two pieces of information and I'll come back to you with what else we need - really not much at all and as we grow, more and more people (customers and potential employees!) will get eyeballs on it.



Keep being an outlier 💪

J + K