How to Survive Against Fierce Competition


Dealing With Competition

The Reum brothers, Courtney and Carter, are known for their roles on the television show Hatched. They are also behind many household brand names including big names such as Lyft, Pinterest, Warby Parker, and Shake Snack. Their new book, Shortcut Your Startup: Speed Up Success with Unconventional Advice from the Trenches is full of advice and shortcuts for those who want to take a start-up organization and scale it quickly.


In the Introduction of your book, you talk about both how it’s cheaper and easier than ever to start a business but also that the competition is more fierce than ever, too. What are the implications of these market forces?

The effects are twofold. On one hand, an abundance of resources has recently come into existence that—in a vacuum—would make life infinitely easier for any entrepreneur. Obvious examples are Kickstarter, social media marketing, Amazon’s e-commerce platform, data analytics—the list goes on. Obviously, these facilitate the arduous and historically expensive process of starting a business. Just look at the following graph showing the decrease in time needed to scale a brand.

Copyright Reum Brothers, Used by Permission.

The problem with these resources, however, is that everybody has access to them. Since these goods and services simplify business building, more and more people enter the landscape and competition increases. While the increased number of competitors certainly is an implication, a more important one is that it becomes significantly more difficult for the best business to separate itself from the crowd.


Use a Microscope and a Telescope

Another juxtaposition of ideas is from the old saying that you need to have a microscope on one eye and a telescope on another. You also use the speedboat versus sailboat analogy. Talk about this and how aspiring entrepreneurs need to understand the differences and their role.

How to Create Brand Names That Stick

A Great Name is a Must

Whether you are launching a new company, a new product, or refreshing a brand, you need to have a great name.  Some companies have a name that just fits while others see massive marketing campaigns fail because of a poor name.  Still others have names that are limiting future growth.  For instance, Tony Hsieh, CEO of says that started out as

Alexandra Watkins is a nationally recognized naming expert and founder of Eat My Words. She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. and Entreprenuer.  Her clients range from Disney to Fujitsu.  She recently wrote the small, but powerful book Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick.


“Your brand name makes a critical first impression. Even more than your shoes.” Alexandra Watkins



For those not in the field of marketing and branding, why is picking the right brand name so critically important? 

Your name will last longer than any investment you make in your business.  Think about that for a minute…will you have the same tablet, mobile phone, printer, and office furniture twenty years from now?  Not likely.  But you will have the same brand name.  That’s why it’s important for you spend the time to get it right.


Qualities of a Perfect Brand Name

What are the qualities of a perfect name? How do you know you’ve landed on the right choice?

A helpful and purely objective checklist for the qualities of a perfect name is my SMILE & SCRATCH Test, a 12-step name evaluation method based on my philosophy, “A name should make you smile, instead of scratch your head.” If your name passes the test (and clears trademarking and international linguistic checks), you can be assured you have a winner.

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SMILE: The 5 Qualities of a Super Sticky Name – the perfect name has all of these characteristics:

Suggestive – evokes something about your brand

Meaningful – resonates with your audience

Imagery – is visually evocative to aid in memory

Legs – lends itself to a theme for extended mileage

Emotional – moves people

5 Tips to Avoid a Branding Collision


A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a traffic jam.  Not the slow moving type, but the “get comfortable you’re going nowhere type” that shouts, “You missed your morning meeting!”  Realizing that a traffic accident could be to blame, I decided to practice gratitude.

“I am thankful that I am in a comfortable car, safe and sound.  God, if someone is in an accident up ahead, please be with them and provide comfort.”

A short time later, the traffic began to move.  It’s a good thing because I can only meditate for so long before I feel trapped.  I’m sure I was there for at least an hour practicing mindfulness and gratitude, which means I was stopped for about 27 seconds.


Accident Ahead

As we moved up, sure enough, I could see what was causing the delay:  an accident.  I did what you would do.  I steeled my eyes on the road ahead and drove without so much as glancing.  Yeah, sure you do.  Trying to keep moving, I glanced ever so quickly to note the vehicles, the emergency responders, and a fleeting view of the injured.  I try not to look—I’ve read that rubberneckers cause numerous secondary accidents—but I’ve also read that looking may be good for you.  Eric G. Wilson, the author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can’t Look Away, argues that it helps us understand life’s deeper meaning.

At the very least, we can tell ourselves that studying wrecks helps us learn from others’ mistakes.

As with accidents, I watch corporate disasters the same way.  Several memorable disasters including Bridgestone’s tire recall, JetBlue’s trapping passengers onboard as categorized by Business Insider.  Anything from the Paula Deen meltdown to Target’s PR nightmare qualifies.

This past week, I witnessed a different type of branding wreckage.  Sure, it may not be as noteworthy as the mistakes above.  It doesn’t involve a consumer brand name, and it doesn’t endanger anyone’s health nor involve racist or offensive remarks.

Still, it provides lessons that are worth exploring.


“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” –Philip Kotler


Platform Confusion

Last week, the National Speakers Association (NSA) announced it was jettisoning its venerable brand in favor of a new name.  That name is Platform.  Though I was not in attendance, I almost immediately was made aware of the announcement via emails, texts and tweets. (See also Rory Vaden‘s excellent post on this subject).


It was almost as if I could hear the tires screeching, the glass shattering, the metal twisting.  This was a branding collision, and the onlookers would be gathering to watch.  Why?

First two disclosures:



One of my close friends is Michael Hyatt.  He is the NYT Bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  He runs a conference called the Platform Conference and has an online community that will make your head spin at Platform University.  He was the driving force encouraging me to blog.  On the book jacket, you will see my endorsement:

“Michael Hyatt, one of the pioneers of social networking and blogging, shares his successful blueprint for raising your visibility. Learn from his experience and save yourself time, money and frustration by following his step-by-step advice.”