Build Your Own Sandbox
I’m tired of complacency, laziness and status quo.
Do you feel the same way?
This is branding as we know it today.
You see them everywhere – Companies and organizations that come on the scene and as quickly as they came in, they are gone in a flash. Each one that you pass by, looks, sounds and feels like their competitors. There is nothing compelling about them. So it’s no wonder why they only have short life spans.
Nonetheless, I would ask myself why was it they failed to make it? Why did they fail to become legacy companies? I would analyze the owners, the staff and their branding looking for answers. The conclusion I came to was that they were in it for the wrong reasons.
It’s easier to copy a brand than build your own.
It’s no secret that when someone sees a company killing it – by increasing their revenue, staff and footprint on the world – others perk up their ears, sniff the air and start tracking down where all the noise is coming from.
When this person arrives at the source of the commotion, they see growth, opportunity and revenue potential, which is commendable. But all they see is the outside of that company and in all honesty, it looks pretty easy from that point of view. So what do they do? They copy that successful business in hopes that they can capitalize on their success. They copy their look, their messaging, their unique selling propositions…basically they sit their ass down in that company’s sandbox and begin playing with their toys.
That company that built that sandbox may look up a few times to see who has joined them but their attention quickly goes back down to what they were doing. This is the first sign of trouble to come.
Soon there is more competition plopping their asses down in that sandbox. When that pioneering company looks up once again, what they see surprises them. Their sandbox, the one they built, is full of others who look, sound and feel the same way they do.
Now, this pioneer is panicking.
What’s worse, is the incestual copying of brands you see in today’s industries. It’s gross really.
As he looks around he is wondering what the hell he needs to do to get rid of these invaders. Anger sets in. Confusion is next. Instead of looking for ways to separate his company from the invaders, he begins watching what everyone else is doing and he begins copying the invaders. What happens next is incestual. A sandbox filled with chromosome-deficient-mutants who are all sputtering the same messages in slightly different ways.
That pioneer began the right way by building their own sandbox but he didn’t do enough to make his sandbox impenetrable to copycats and lazy self-serving business owners looking to make a quick buck.
You have permission to build your brand YOUR way.
This manifesto is not a rant although that can be argued. It is a plea to business owners, leaders and people of power to stop doing what everyone else is doing. This is your permission to do things Your Way. A Way built on cause, purpose and mission-driven intent that is unique to you and no one else! I am giving you the ‘go-ahead’ to build your own sandbox so far away from everyone else that the moment some asshole gets a sniff of your success, they will see the long journey ahead of them to get to your sandbox that they will give up before they even get started.
What about those companies who have good intentions but fail as well?
I can tell you why they failed.
They didn’t believe in themselves and their brand. When things got tough, which happens with ANY business from time to time, instead of defaulting back to their purpose, cause, mission, and values, they opted to leave their newly built sandbox and go play with their peers in the crowded sandbox over there in the corner.
The rest is history.
Who told you that branding has to be done in a specific way?
I want you to understand that NOWHERE does it say that you have to follow everyone else just because that’s what everyone else is doing in your industry.
I mean really! Who told you you had to do it that way? Who told you that your brand has to sound like everyone else? Who said you must stay in the same sandbox as your competitors?
I will tell you who. NO ONE!
There is way too much competition out there and as our world grows more connected, many more countries will come knocking at your customer’s doors looking for their share of that person’s wallet. The companies that don’t get it will default to competing on bottom feeder tactics like price, boasting how good they are, selling out to get 5 minutes of fame, discounts, creating controversy on purpose, click-baiting, etc. These are businesses that forgo customer service in the name of making money. Brand experience, purpose-driven philosophy, cause, and values are things that they scoff at. The mere thought of this is a complete waste of time in their opinion. And they will be the first person to tell you so.
Those who think and look at the big picture will know better. They understand that success is predicated on longevity. They will ask themselves “How do I stay relevant for the next 20 years or more?”
They will discover that the answer is: Build Your Own Sandbox.
Do you want to build your own sandbox?
If you are thinking to yourself “I want to build my own sandbox.” I encourage you to keep reading because I am going to show you how to do it.
Building your sandbox takes time. Patience, vision, and belief are also required. You have to be in this for the long term for it to create success.
If you lack patience and are looking for a silver bullet to make your company millions in a matter of months, you have come to the wrong place. There are lots of instafakes on social media that can give you ‘secrets to their successes’ in exchange for a couple of hundred bucks. I suggest you seek them out but beware. It’s all bullshit. You’re welcome.
Those of you who are in it to win it the right way. Let’s begin.
The world needs and desires business owners like you.
One of our most primal instincts is to be part of communities. Communities that share the same values and causes they do. When people find a community that fits their own values and beliefs, they stay there for the long term.
Your company is going to build a brand that creates community – internally and externally.
Not only will customers stick with you, but they will also promote you and advocate for you. Don’t forget this also applies to your employees. You are going to create community, culture and life long fans.
To build your own sandbox requires the right tools.
These tools can be found anywhere. Using them properly is where most business owners give up.
The tools you will need to create your own sandbox are:
- Your Purpose
- Your Values
- Your Mission
- Your Cause
- Continuous Learning
- No Fear
It’s unfortunate that in today’s world personal values are being ignored. If society took a deep breath and looked intently at their personal values before they commented on social media, the world would be a better place.
Your Values are one of the cornerstone tools to start building your sandbox. Without a set of values, you cannot move forward. Your values will act as your guidance system when it comes to customer service, hiring, firing, collaborating, aligning with other companies and decision-making principles.
What are your unwavering values as a person?
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities and measures you use in decision making. They are the principles or standards of behavior you use to gauge judgment of what is important in your life.
You can see our Values HERE
Understanding your personal values are necessary for creating the next pieces of your sandbox. So it’s important that you take the time to polish these and if you have to, revise them as needed.
In 2009, Simon Sinek opened the eyes of the corporate world to the power of Purpose. Back in its infancy, Purpose was ignored. It wasn’t taken seriously by anyone but the few who watched his Ted Talk. I took it seriously the moment I saw his Ted Talk go viral in 2013. So much so I went on a journey to discover my own Purpose.
The moment I discovered it, crafted it into a sentence and began implementing it with intent and belief, my world changed. My business changed. The way I marketed my company changed. Purpose gave me clarity and direction. It has been my beacon since 2013.
To create your own sandbox you will need to discover your Purpose. Understand that this statement needs to come straight from the owner of the company. Their personal purpose is the foundation for creating a purpose for their company. Because like any organization with leadership, everything flows downhill. It starts with the leader and filters through the rest of the company and brand.
But beware there are many companies that claim they are purpose-driven but when you pull back the curtain, that Purpose statement they created is nothing but a marketing ploy. Your Purpose has to be felt in your heart and soul. It has to mean something to you and your brand. It has to be authentic for it to be effective.
Learning your Purpose takes time and can be done through Simon Sinek’s website and by reading his book Start With Why. You can also watch his 2009 Ted Talk HERE
When you have your Purpose created, you can move on to create your Cause.
Simon Sinek talked about Cause extensively in his book The Infinite Game. His argument encouraging organizations to create a Cause is compelling. SO much so, it really got me thinking about vision statements differently. Because let’s be honest, all of this stuff seems like a complete waste of time and nothing but fluff that is simply there to appease HR.
After reading his book I looked at vision statements differently. I now see the impact they can have on a company when created properly. So naturally I created one for my company.
Here is a brief explanation of a Cause so you can understand the difference. I also encourage you to read The Infinite Game.
A cause embodies the principles and values of an organization’s leaders and employees. The objective of a Cause is not to win. It’s all about the infinite game and legacy you desire to create. A Cause is specific and gives a sense of where the company’s going that empowers every person to use their judgment to do the right thing, for now, and for the future. It gives your people a reason to build your company without you. Continuing a legacy when you are long gone.
Creating a Cause takes time.
Your Cause is not about becoming the biggest, the best or number one company that sells the most widgets. It’s not about reaching a certain revenue goal either. It is about pursuing something that is infinite and will probably be unattainable. Where most companies go wrong in creating a vision statement is they look at it as a goal. It is not a goal, is it a vision of the future, a Cause to believe in and pursue relentlessly. It is something so noble that others are willing to devote their lives and careers toward advancing it. When their careers are over, the Cause can live on and serve to inspire further progress of the company or organization. Kinda like handing over the baton knowing that what is being created stays on the same track, no matter who is piloting.
A Cause is informed by your Purpose. It describes a vision of the world that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to see that vision advanced.
There are five criteria to articulate your Cause.
It must be:
- For Something
It serves as a positive and specific vision of the future. While being against something may be effective in rallying people, it doesn’t inspire and it won’t last. A Cause is what you stand for rather than what you stand against.
It is open to all those who wish to contribute. A Cause attracts people from diverse skill sets. A great Cause inspires all to make their worthwhile contributions and feel valued for it.
The primary benefit of the cause has to go to those other than you. For example, if you go to your boss for career advice, the expectation is that the advice you receive will benefit your career. If your boss gives you advice that benefits their own career, they are not service-oriented. This extends to organizations, leaders and companies. The products and services business creates must be designed to primarily benefit its customers, not the company. If you are a leader, your leadership has to benefit the people you lead.
A great Cause must be able to endure political, technological and cultural changes. So, if you define your Cause based upon a particular technology or a specific product and there is a market change, your Cause will not last long.
Your Cause has to be big, bold and ultimately unachievable. This is how you create a Cause.
Once your Cause is complete you are ready to use the next tool to create your own sandbox. Your Mission.
To create a mission statement, you need to define what you want to accomplish as a company. It’s a self serving goal that can ignite motivation in yourself and your staff. It embodies your values and correlates with your purpose. It can be short term, everlasting or simply a call to arms for internal purposes.
Again this is a statement that has to mean something to everyone in your company. It is not to be created simply to look good. It has to embody the spirit of your organization.
Any great leader who is building their own sandbox knows that they have to be a sponge. They need to be continually focused on the big picture. To do that they need to be open to new ideas, thoughts, insights, and ideas. This only happens when you are genuinely humble and willing to be a continual learner.
As your company grows and your sandbox starts generating attention, people will be testing its security. They will be trying to get into your sandbox. A sure-fire method to keeping these greedy bastards outside of your sandbox is to keep learning.
Here are ways to keep learning:
- Listen to your customers and employees. Read their reviews, engage in conversations and be intentional about it.
- Listen to podcasts and read books about business owners and their methodologies
- Keep up to date on consumer & market trends
- Look for inspiration from other industries, sectors, and individuals who are not even relevant to your industry.
- Collaborate with other companies who share the same values as you and are complimentary to your business. Visit their sandbox from time to time to see what they are up to, share ideas, take them back to your own sandbox and see if you can implement them in your business.
Continuous Learning keeps you relevant. It encourages evolution and creativity. Which are very important tools to the durability of your sandbox.
Evolution & Creativity
The world changes quickly and so do your employees and customers. Being adaptive, willing to evolve and being creative with your company will fortify your sandbox walls from any intruders.
As time progresses and as you continue to learn new techniques, ideas, methods and insights. You have to be willing to implement what you learned. Experimenting and becoming creative with your ideas to see if they’re beneficial to your company’s growth and added value. Through experimenting and being creative, you learn. Most will fail and that is a good thing. Failure is a learning experience.
I make it a habit to evaluate my business every year.
During this time I break apart my company, examine the pieces and evaluate what stays, what goes and what I can add. I constantly evolve my business.
Evolving your company keeps you relevant. It also keeps complacency away.
Your core values are also there to keep you centred. Lean on them. Make sure everyone in your company believes in them as well.
Your staff also need to believe in what you are building. Having that collective mindset of belief will make your sandbox a cultural powerhouse impenetrable to any intruder.
You have permission to do things Your Way.
You have permission to go build your own sandbox. A sandbox built with the tools to make your sandbox last a lifetime. Owning a business is hard enough. Does it have to be boring? Aren’t you entitled to have excitement in your life as you build your legacy?
No one told you that it has to be done a certain way or else you won’t get customers or employees.
Don’t believe me?
Ask Apple how they did it. Ask Patagonia how their sandbox has been doing since 1973. Talk to Lush and ask them how their sandbox has held together for the last 2 decades.
These brands and many more didn’t follow conventional tactics and industry norms. They didn’t plop themselves into their competitors sandbox. They went and built their own. They used the tools I outlined and created it into a fortified brand that will last another 100 years or more.
I hope this has inspired you to believe in yourself, your organization, your people and your customers.
Now go build your own sandbox.
Do you care about your clients and brand?
Do you feel like others don't get the method to your madness? Do they look at your excessive nature of caring and going the extra mile as a waste of time and money? Do they have a chuckle at your expense?
Don't stop doing what makes you great! Do more of it because this is what separates shitty brands from great ones.
If you have a desire to take your brand to a new level of success, let's talk.
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