Creating a brand that stands out isn’t easy. No matter how good your product is, if you’re blending in with the rest of the market, it’s going to be tough to gain traction.  

One of the best approaches to building a distinct brand is to use a blue ocean strategy. This strategy helps brands stand out from their competition by creating a new market or finding untapped opportunities. 

Here we explore how to create a blue ocean strategy for your brand. We’ll cover the steps you need to take, what to consider when creating your strategy, and how to ensure its success.

blue ocean

What Is a Blue Ocean Strategy?

A blue ocean strategy is a way to create uncontested market space for your business. The goal is to move away from traditional markets and reduce competition by creating new, unoccupied market spaces.

This strategy has become increasingly popular in recent years as more businesses look for new opportunities to differentiate themselves and stand out in the crowded marketplace. Instead of fighting over existing customers, a blue ocean brand creates new demand, thereby making the competition irrelevant.

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne developed this concept and delved into it in their books Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift.  Why “blue ocean”? Well, think about where you’d rather go swimming.

blue ocean strategy book<br />

Do you want your business to swim in a vast blue ocean, filled with fish (customers) and little to no competition? Or would you rather swim in a red ocean, packed with sharks (competitors), fighting over what little scraps are available?  

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Kim and Mauborgne argue that focusing too much on an existing consumer base leads to offers of “more for less.” Instead of differentiating, companies just offer the same as everyone else, only cheaper. 

They believe that a blue ocean perspective helps business owners realize that demand is out there so long as you can find pain points that no one else is addressing. 

What Are the Core Steps of a Blue Ocean Strategy?

In their book, Kim and Mauborgne outline the four steps necessary to create an uncontested market space: eliminating, reducing, raising, and creating (ERRC).

Steps of a Blue Ocean Strategy

Eliminate

First, you need to eliminate factors that are not important to customers. Ask yourself what factors your industry competes on, even though customers see no value in them.  If your competitors are using them to differentiate themselves, you won’t differentiate yourself by copying them. So ditch those factors altogether.

Reduce

Next, you must reduce those factors that are not relevant to customers. Maybe these factors can’t be eliminated entirely, but they’re not nearly as important to customers as the industry believes they are. Take these down to the bare minimum and focus resources on what matters.

Raise

Now it’s time to raise the importance of factors that are important to customers and that your industry is not focusing on. What are your competitors ignoring that could actually be more valuable than they realize? 

Maybe you’re in an industry that produces a piece of safety gear that’s functional but generally an eyesore? There’s your opening to swim into that blue ocean. Create a product that’s just as functional but also focuses on style so that people actually want to wear it. 

swimming sharks

Create

Finally, you must create new factors that will make your brand stand out from the competition. Beyond factors that are being ignored, what’s a benefit that no one’s even thought of yet? What’s a problem with your industry that customers just accept because that’s how it’s always been? 

Here’s your opportunity to change that mindset and start making customers see that annoying aspect as unacceptable. Once they do, your business will be their only option … at least until it becomes industry standard (which is why it’s important to maintain your blue ocean perspective rather than treat it like a one-and-done strategy). 

Reduce factors that aren’t relevant to your customers. Take these down to the bare minimum and focus resources on what matters.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Blue Ocean Strategy?

The main benefit of utilizing a blue ocean strategy is the ability to build a strong, competitive brand without having to compete with existing market offerings. .

With a blue ocean strategy, businesses can create a market of their own that stands out from the competition and offers a unique value proposition to its customers. This can help businesses gain an edge over their competition by offering something truly unique and captivating, allowing them to capture a larger share of the market.

confident lady

Additionally, a blue ocean strategy can help businesses increase their profit margins by avoiding costly price wars with competitors. When you reduce or eliminate competition, there’s no need to compete on price and participate in the race to the bottom. Your businesses will maximize profits because customers will be willing to pay a premium to work with the only brand serving their specific need.

That’s not to say you can’t pursue differentiation and low cost simultaneously. In fact, Kim and Mauborgne argue that finding a unique space in the market while including affordability in your offering can create an even bigger advantage.

Another major benefit of using a blue ocean strategy is the ability to build a long-term, sustainable brand that fosters customer loyalty.

By offering something truly unique and valuable, customers are more likely to remain engaged and be more willing to invest in the brand’s products and services. This helps businesses create lasting relationships with customers which, in turn, helps them to secure long-term profitability. 

Blue ocean shift

How to Create a Blue Ocean Strategy for Your Brand

Creating a blue ocean strategy for your brand starts with analyzing and understanding the competitive landscape, then exploring untapped markets and new ways of reaching customers.

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Once you have a good understanding of the blue ocean concept, you can begin to create a blue ocean strategy for your own brand. Here are some steps to get started:
  1. Analyze the competitive landscape: Take the time to understand what your competitors are doing in the marketplace and how they’re positioning themselves in relation to your own brand.
  2. Identify new opportunities: Look for gaps in the existing market that you could fill with your product or service. Consider new customer segments, unexplored markets, or trends that may be emerging in your industry. These are the ways you swim away from the sharks of the red ocean and into your own blue ocean.
  3. Develop a unique value proposition: Create a value proposition that stands out from the competition and makes it easier for customers to choose your brand. Focus on what makes your brand different, such as offering more features or better service than the competition.
  1. Craft a compelling narrative: Once you have a unique value proposition, create a story around it that helps customers understand why they should choose your brand. A powerful narrative can create an emotional connection with customers, which is essential for building brand loyalty.
  2. Leverage technology: Utilize new technologies to reach and engage with customers in new ways. This could involve using social media or online advertising to spread your message, or developing apps and other digital tools to provide a more personalized experience for customers.
digital tools for business

Wrap-Up

Overall, using a blue ocean strategy is a great way for businesses to break convention, stand out in the market, maximize profits, and secure long-term customer loyalty. By offering a solution to pain points that no one else in your industry is addressing, you can build a strong, competitive, lasting brand.

Developing a blue ocean strategy mindset is a powerful skill. It takes innovation and a willingness to understand your customers and their pain points. It’s not easy, but it sure beats blending in and fighting for scraps.

Learn more about applying the blue ocean approach to your business in these books by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne: