The word “Strategy” has many definitions. The word strategy was said to have been derived from the word strategies. While the name might have originated from Strategos, the art and principles of strategy have long existed.
Strategy was an art practiced in ancient times by general, military governors, and politicians. To the general, it is the direction to take after mapping the full environment and the enemies’ terrain then a direction is designed or deployed to either counter an opponent’s move or force an opponent into an unfavorable situation.
A politician sees strategy a bit different from the general, a politician sees strategy as a form of negotiation to gain practical benefits from a situation no matter how bad it is.
Strategy therefore can be seen as a defined opportunity to gain more than your current situation offers. What this means is that strategy is not seen as a backward or forward exercise but the act of deploying what is necessary to reach the destination and this requires understanding the past but using it to navigate the future barriers that might come your way while trying to arrive at your destination.
One style of designing a strategy is the art of imitation, this style allows you to observe what happened in the past or present of a brand you intend to copy and allows you to see their weaknesses and ride on it. The Problem with imitation is why it allows you to understand the mistakes of the first brand in the category if wrongly used gives birth to brands with sameness and lack of differentiation.
Imitation can be used effectively in two complementary steps that would give value to those who deploy it. The first step is through analyzing what the first mover in your category does and copy what the aspects that would build a solid foundation for category and brand and then challenge what the weakness or shortcoming is.
The next step is to seek inspiration from brands in another different category that offers or communicates similar value to what you would like to create. The aim here is to copy from that different category what can work in your category that would give your brand a different feel and means to differentiate your offerings.
These two complementary steps can help design a brand that not only challenges your category but can create opportunities that can aim the creation of a new category or a subcategory where the brand applying these two steps is the leader. A leader of a category that was borne out of studying the past and present of the first mover in category while working towards a future projection of what your brand should be like in the nearest future.
The art of imitation being wrongly done creates undesirable business outcomes that can be detrimental to the business growth and taking that route is not what any business should look forward to.