Fast Company

How to Approach Branding like a Game—and Win

Is it a coincidence that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt (a.k.a. the founder of Google) are all avid chess players? Probably not. Building a brilliant brand is a game of strategy—a game that these men have mastered with awe-inspiring results. Take a cue from their (and my own!) hobby, and start building your branding strategy by adapting a few basic chess rules:
 
Avoid moving a piece twice during the opening
 
Okay—In chess, once you’ve developed a piece, you should leave it in place until you’ve developed other pieces. In building a brand for your business, this translates to: Don’t get ahead of yourself. I recommend making progress step by step in multiple areas.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket r you’ll lose out on opportunities.  Move one step forward on each of many ideas and then let your overall position improve.  Then return to that first piece you moved and strengthen its position. Repeat!
 
Avoid premature attacks
 
Many beginners lose games because of their eagerness to attack opponents’ pieces. This eagerness beats out prudence, so these players make their move before setting up their own pieces in a way that will help carry the attack to victory. In business, think of an “attack” as a launch. Many people are so excited by their vision that they launch a business or brand without the infrastructure to sustain it. Huge mistake, and the fastest way to lose both money and credibility. Before any big launch, make sure you have the right workforce, enough time, and—most importantly—quality product(s) in place. Spend the necessary time setting yourself up for a successful “attack” before you pull the trigger.
 
Seek a weak spot in your opponent’s position
 
All good chess players have incredible powers of observation, which they use to predict and detect their opponents’ weaknesses; then they have the confidence to take advantage of those failings. This is crucial in business. To stay relevant and provide a product or service that people actually need, pay attention to what’s going on around you! Read business journals, newspapers, and blogs. Analyze competitors’ websites. Determine where there is a gap in your market, and immediately begin brainstorming strategic ways to fill it. Then start these moves all over again!

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