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Notebook

Thoughts & musings.

The Price of “Yes”

I was chatting with a business owner the other day. She told me a story about a client who asked for a service that was radically outside of her company’s core competency. I asked if she agreed to take on the contract. “Heck yes,” she grinned. “When a client asks can you do that? the answer is always: definitely!” 

Who doesn’t admire that sort of initiative? The problem, I considered later, is that there’s a cost to ‘yes’, and that is a steady dissolution of an identity, a brand, and very probably over the long term, a business.

It’s an old adage that bears repeating: companies that do everything do nothing particularly well. The promise of short term gain will forever lure businesses from corner shops to multinationals into the dangerous realm of ‘yes’. Only later do they discover that the road to hell — or at least insolvency — is paved with diversifications, brand extensions and vertical integrations.

If the rules of successful branding were boiled down to one word, that word would be: focus.

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