Happiness comes from many different sources, but the one characteristic that happy people share is that they are different. They are different because they have found a way to be true to themselves.
Why is it so hard to step out of the shadows and express ourselves uniquely?
Coupled with the fact that there is no social incentive to behave differently, it’s easier to deal with what we already know. The lack of incentive starts at school, trickles to our neighborhoods, our organizations and is weaved into our society. As a result, uniqueness diminishes and the risk of replicating other people’s acts or expectations increases.
What applies to human beings is also true for companies and brands.
We may think that copying can be a winning strategy. Samsung is the perfect example of a huge success, copycat strategy. But this type of success never lasts long. Soon someone like Huawei will pop up and do it better, faster and cheaper. In a globalized world, if we don’t force ourselves to step out, inevitably a better imitation will appear.
It’s much more difficult to do something that nobody has done before. Oftentimes companies rely on new technologies to enhance innovations and experiences. This can be a solution, but it’s very rare to distinguish yourself with technology alone. Technology is indispensible, but more and more accessible and easier to catch up with.
Step out of the shadows and to be true to you.
Innovate by listening. Determine what makes you uniquely valuable. Have the courage to express your unique characteristics. Invite judgement and feedback by others. Learn from failures and persist, despite what your critics may say. Stay the course until the journey becomes a success. Our DNA, our personal histories and our experiences shape us uniquely.
Adopt a true to you strategy
The French fashion brand was founded by Agnes Troublé, one of Frances richest women. A freelance stylist with no fashion education, she created her own brand in the early 1970’s. Starting from scratch, she has built and maintained her empire, and still holds 100% of the company. She now has 272 boutiques all over the world in cities like New York, London, Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Agnes B decided to create fashion she fancies, not allowing outside trends to dictate her choices. Her clothes reflect her own timeless style–a blend of non-bourgeois elegance and rock’n roll attitude. Quentin Tarantino chose her fashion designs for his Reservoir Dogs characters. In a heavily disrupted industry, Agnes B has resisted globalization and the commoditization coming from low-cost design brands such as H&M and Zara, and the industry consolidation where so many fashion brands end up as subsidaries of worldwide groups like LVMH or Kering.
Now in her fifth business decade, Agnes B remains independent and edgy. She is an icon for young artists such as Jain, the singer who always wears her dresses. Agnes B has rejected trends and copycat strategies, setting the stage to be original and unique. Her legacy teaches us that if you want to build a lasting business that no one can copy, you have to build the only monopoly that no one will ever be able to replicate–the monopoly of you.