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The Art of Strategy

Thumbing through the pages of The Art of War by Sun Tzu, I came to realise that the military tactics can be applied on pretty much any aspect that requires strategy. Of course, communication and marketing are included. While a war does not take place literally, brands certainly combat in the market to reach positioning and mark differences to stand out.

Here are some points I found essential to keep in mind when designing strategies for branding. Quotes taken from classics.mit.edu

Chapter V – Energy

10 - “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.”

Within the market, the ‘attack’ goes to the target, not to the rivals (other brands). The number one priority is the people who trust the quality and the experience that the product is offering.  ‘Direct’ and ‘indirect’ may be translated into direct and indirect marketing. Creativity is what will make the combination possible in order to catch attention.  And through it, it will be feasible to generate powerful maneuvers.

Chapter VI – Weak Points and Strong

1 – “Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.”

Unlike the previous statement, the “enemy” in this case is the rest of competitors. Whoever becomes a pioneer when using new technologies or innovative forms of communication will be the one in leading new tendencies. The second or third to repeat that technique will only be a follower.

28 – “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”

On the other hand, holding onto the tactic that made the brand a success can be dangerous. The main risk is lacking freshness and creativity; hence, it is very important to constantly analyze the target market in order to not miss a thing. Circumstances affect habits so better stay focused on any kind of transformations.  The only constant is change.

30 –“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”

No rival is really small or invincible. There is no point in trying to ‘attack’ them in the aspects where they are already dominant. It is a question of observing and tracking their errors in order to take advantage.

So know your brand through your target’s perception. Ask them what they think so that you will know exactly where you stand. Also, know your competitors to find out about their strengths and weaknesses. Planning the right strategies require observation, exhaustive research, and creativity. That explains why it is an art.

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