August 30

Be innovative to win a slice of the Apple.

It’s not what you do but the way that you do it, says innovation guru, Cris Beswick (pictured). Here, he gets to the core of the strategy which is powering Apple above its competitors in the crowded tech marketplace and says smaller businesses should watch and learn.

Earlier this month, Apple became the most valuable US firm and surpassed its competitor Exxon Mobil. Apple has always been admired for its business and branding strategy and I’ve always been a massive fan.

Apple has been making its way to the top and overtook Microsoft in May 2011; its next competitor was Exxon Mobil which has been the most valuable company since 2005.

Apple reached this position not only through its business and branding strategy, but also through superb leadership and innovation. Organisational culture is key to its phenomenal successes.

Remaining innovative is the true secret to beating your competitors – setting yourself, your products and your brand message apart is not easy, but it is vital to elevate your business above others. Apple is experiencing amazing success with its latest gadgets – such as the iPhone and the iPad – despite operating in the saturated tech market. There is a lot businesses can learn from its example.

In today’s hugely competitive, globalised market place filled with savvy consumers and agile competitors, there is little room for innovation, as we’ve historically known it. Big leaps away from competitors are hard and whatever you make or sell can and will be copied with ease.

When I work with organisations and their senior teams on innovation, what we are really looking at is culture and how to do things differently. Why? Because competitive advantage is no longer about ‘what you do’, it’s about ‘how you do it’. Your competitors can copy products along with everyone else, but if you get it right, they won’t be able to do it like you do, they won’t be able to copy your culture – it’s unique! It’s what I call ‘Differentiated Innovation’.

Skyrocketing trust

Apple is constantly one step ahead of its competitors – its amazing products and business processes have skyrocketed it from an ailing organisation into a trusted, renowned brand. You can produce the best products on the market, but without the culture of innovation which pulls everyone collectively in the right direction; your organisation may find itself floundering. Always looking forward and not back is what got Apple to where it is today and it is a lesson for any SMEs which have been struggling, whether it is due to the economic downturn or circumstance.

Apple’s ethos is ‘to build something truly different, you need to work in a truly different way’ and it is this thinking which has placed it at the forefront of the industry.

The common ground that brands such as Apple and Microsoft share is that they are the best at what they do – they really differentiate themselves from their competitors by being visionaries and have mastered the art of unearthing unarticulated needs as well as articulated ones.

This creates a desire for their products, which helps make their brands the ‘no-brainer’ choice.

Changing the way you do things may seem like a risk, but calculated risks are crucial to ensure your business doesn’t plateau.

Competitive advantage

My message to SMEs is that building a co-created and firmly underpinned innovation culture continues to be one of the main drivers of competitive advantage. as evidenced by the continuing success of these brands.

The secret to why they are the world’s most valuable brands is examining not what they do but how they do it.

Cris Beswick’s latest book is ‘The Road to Innovation’.


Differentiation, Innovation Culture, Leadership, Strategy

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