They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But what if you can’t even recognize your foe? Every brand, every company, every individual has an adversary, whether recognized or not. It could be inertia, a rival company, old habits, or even the shadow of your own previous success.
Did you know that Apple never directly named IBM as its enemy? Instead, they used an evocative ad to challenge the status quo and point at the giants without saying a word1. That’s right! They made it clear who the ‘enemy’ was without ever naming them directly. The impact? Revolutionary. Once you name the enemy, you create a rallying point, not just for your team but for your customers, too.
But why do we need an enemy? Psychologically speaking, opposition creates cohesion2. Humans are programmed to stand together against a common foe. This isn’t about creating negativity; it’s about harnessing an innate human trait to motivate and create a shared vision.
Let’s look at Tesla. Their ‘enemy’ isn’t just traditional automakers but the very concept of fossil fuel reliance3. By setting up this antagonist, Elon Musk didn’t just sell cars; he sold a vision of a sustainable future, garnering legions of passionate supporters in the process.
However, there’s a cautionary tale in this. Naming the enemy isn’t about creating a scapegoat or fostering negativity. It’s about clarity, focus, and alignment. It’s a tool, and like any tool, its effectiveness lies in its judicious use.
Consider the times we’re living in. We’re in an age where lines blur between fact and fiction. Amidst this confusion, having clarity on what you’re up against can be a beacon for your brand, guiding decisions, forming strategies, and unifying efforts.
So, ask yourself, who or what is your enemy? Name it, confront it, and rally your troops. Because once you’ve named the enemy, you’ve taken the first step in conquering it.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu