Who are your brand enemies?

Define your brand based on who you aim to defeat.

Who are your enemies? By enemy, I don't mean the old High School jerk that you still run into in your hometown, or that one person you can't stand seeing their posts in your Facebook feed. I don't even mean a company that is merely your competitor or that brand that is stealing your clients. By enemy I mean who are the people, organizations, or movements that are actively trying to crush the things that you value? Who believes most fervently the opposite of what you believe? Who is doing things wrongly?

At first you may think—as I did—that this is a really negative way of approaching your brand. However, I guarantee you that this approach is just as affective as defining your brand beliefs in a positive way because recognizing those that oppose your beliefs can help you to put an even finer point on what it is you truly stand for. In other words, knowing what you don't believe is just a powerful as knowing what you do believe.

Our enemies should motivate us to pursue our convictions, just as much as our allies do.

Here's a simple example:

A friend of mine started an amazing natural beverage company. They wanted to bring their knowledge of organic farming and quality ingredients to everyone, starting specifically with fountain drinks. But who were the big players in the fountain drink space? Companies that embodied the exact opposite: synthetic sugars, preservatives, manufactured flavors, etc. Defeating such a giant enemy became a defining factor for their company. With every success their brand enemies had, their company was in retreat—and they decided that were not going to let that happen. This approach gave them something to fight against, just as much as it gave them something to fight for.

Use your enemies' goals to your advantage.

Every company can and should use their enemies goals to their advantage. Having something tangible to fight against is perhaps one of the greatest motivators for any organization. When we see our values being destroyed by others in real and tangible ways it taps at the core of who you are and what you truly value.

So, stop merely thinking about your enemies in the abstract and recognize those people, organizations, or entities that oppose your beliefs, so you can more clearly define what you stand against and what you stand to lose if you let your enemies win. Write them down, strategize about them, and make a game plan to fight against your brand enemies.

Here is a sample from the Why Deck, which is a simple tool I created for helping my clients discover their brand beliefs:

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