In today’s ever-changing business landscape, there is no shortage of fear and uncertainty. But what if you could take those fears and use them to build something better? What if you could become a “Calculated-Courage” brand? —a brand that willingly addresses its business fears by gathering enough knowledge, building faith, and taking swift action. Easier said than done. Especially because it’s much easier to be a Stasis Brand (or, worse, a Coward Brand) than a Courage Brand.
Let’s explore what it takes to become a Calculated-Courage brand and how it can help you succeed in the 21st century.
The first step in becoming a Calculated-Courage brand is gathering enough knowledge about your industry and your customers so that you can make informed decisions about your future. This means doing research on the latest trends, understanding customer needs and interests, and staying up-to-date on the competition. Having a strong knowledge base will help you make calculated risks with confidence.
Proactivity is one of the most important qualities for any business to possess. Being proactive means staying ahead of the competition and anticipating your customers’ needs before they even know they have them. It reminds me of own my favorite tee shirts that I’ve made and often wear during my Keynotes: Mistake It ‘Til You Make It. I’ve never been much of a fan of Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Frankly, it’s terrible advice. Proactive brands are making calculated risks—even mistakes—and are learning from and iterating off those little glitch moments.
Here are 3 Courage Brands that are moving fast, staying proactive, and delivering on their customers’ needs:
Amazon: Amazon is renowned for its customer-oriented approach. So much so that Forbes recently wrote about Amazon and their guiding principles for innovation: “Move First, Experiment Constantly, and Fail Fast.” The article went on to showcase how Amazon had little experience in hardware when they launched their Kindle e-reader in 2007. And while everyone advised against it, Bezos and the team knew better. The rest is history. Courage Brands have permission to look at powerful ideas as assets—the delivery and the rest will follow. This allows them to create better products and services that cater to their customers’ needs—not just today or tomorrow but 3 years down the line.
Apple: It must be nice having 48 Billion cash on hand, which was the number in the bank for the forward-thinking giant by the end of 2022. A drop in their bucket (2.5B) is what’s now allocated over the next 10 years to nudging Apple into the sports entertainment game. It’s a blip of a risk for them to stream Major League Soccer on their platform. And, the futurist in me believes it’s only a matter of time before Lionel Messi and other famed global soccer stars end up in MLS AND on a documentary featured around the globe downloaded via Apple. It’s nothing sort of iBrilliant.
Uber: Uber has not only revolutionized the transportation industry but they’ve revolutionized themselves after having a culture hiccup under founder Travis Kalanick. Whereas many Silicon Valley companies have been in the land of layoffs, the last 6 years under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi have been a slow-cooked restart on doing things right by its people and culture. How has it paid off? Just this week, Uber recorded their strongest quarter ever. They surpassed Wall Street’s estimates while marking a 49% increase from 2022.
Once you have gathered enough information, it is time to start building faith in yourself, your team, and your product or service. This means having an unapologetic point of view that supports why your product or service is valuable to customers. It also means believing in yourself and recognizing that failure is part of the journey toward success. Building faith allows you to stay motivated even when things get tough.
Here are 3 Courage Brands that are unapologetic in who they are and what they stand for while having a total conviction for the work they do:
Method: Cofounder Eric Ryan thought it was odd that you needed rubber gloves while cleaning your house. How clean are these ingredients if you need rubber gloves between your body and the 11-syllable words found on the back of most cleaning products? So, Method launched a cleaner product and an even cleaner purpose statement, “The People Against Dirty.” Are you FOR dirty or AGAINST dirty? Having this cause for “clean” is their way of building Believership.
Patagonia: Patagonia has been the poster child in the purpose space for as long as all of us have been studying purpose. Of course, the poster I refer to would have had to have been made with fully-recyclable material since their purpose statement, which you often now see in their advertisements is, “Build the best product. Cause no unnecessary harm. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” And while Patagonia is in business to save our human planet…
SpaceX: ….another is in business to courageously prepare for human life on another planet. It is said that Elon Musk has a certain blueprint for success when it comes to recruiting people, and according to the rumor mill, this formula consists of 1) Passion, 2) Talent, and 3) Value. When you have a sea of passionate people all focused in the same clear direction, that’s a Courage Brand at work.
The last step is taking swift action on all the knowledge and faith that you have built up. This means having a solid plan in place before making any big leaps for your business. It also means having the courage to take risks and make hard decisions without fear of failure or criticism from others. Taking swift action requires trust in yourself as well as trust from others—especially from potential investors or partners who believe in what you are trying to do with your business.
Here are 3 Courage Brands that have achieved success by taking swift action to stay ahead of a changing market or obstacles:
Netflix: I recently ran into a funny Netflix ad that was as much “self-help” as it was “self-promotion.” The ad copy read, “You Got This! Never forget we started with DVDs.” This put a smile on my face and was a reminder that Netflix took swift action by transitioning from a DVD rental service to offering streaming services in 2007. Today, they’re in the original content space and are competing not with another platform but—in the words of CEO Reid Hastings—your sleeping.
Airbnb: Airbnb was able to capitalize on an emerging trend by creating an innovative platform that allows visitors to rent out spare rooms, apartments, villas, or other accommodations directly from homeowners instead of relying on hotels or resorts. They moved quickly so they could establish themselves as a leader in this space while beating out competitors such as Couchsurfing and HomeAway who were trying to do the same thing.
Disney: Bob Iger is back again and he’s back to doing Bob Iger things as Disney recently beat Wall Street’s expectations. While it sounds like they have a way to go and are under “significant transformation,” Iger is committed to transferring creative power back into the hands of its content creators. In my view, this is code for a lot of expensive labor being cut out, which could benefit the actual creators of content. Disney will continue to put that content on its streaming service, Disney+, which allows users to access its library of movies and shows on any device.
Above all, being a Calculated-Courage Brand can help differentiate you from competitors by showing customers that you are clear and confident about who you are as a company and passionate about delivering value to them through your products or services. So, gather some knowledge, build some faith, and get ready to take brave action! Your future success depends on it.