What’s Your Purple Cow?

Brown Cows Are Boring!

Many of you have read the book, The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin. It’s a groundbreaking book full of case studies on how to make your business truly remarkable.

As we all know, after we’ve seen one cow we’ve seen them all. When you drive by a heard of cattle they all just look like cows and it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.  But if you drive by a heard and standing in the field is a Purple Cow you have to tell someone because it is so different.  Cows might be well-bred, Six Sigma cows, lit by the most amazing light, but they are still just a cow. They’re boring. But what if the cow we saw was purple? Now that would get our attention. It could be in a field of perfectly fine, or even excellent cows, but this cow would be remarkable. Now that’s something worth talking about, and worth paying attention to. There’s boring stuff everywhere we turn, like brown cows, which is why so few of us pay any attention.

This article is a plea to marketers to make a difference by creating products and services that are worth marketing in the first place. Strive for passion, originality, guts and daring. It’s the only way to be successful. The one sure way to fail today is to be boring. Your one chance for success is to be remarkable. So you have to be a leader, because you can’t be remarkable by following someone else who is already remarkable. His remarkable thing is already taken. So go find another way to be remarkable.

Toyota PriusThe Toyota Prius is bought by people who are environmentally conscious and they want to show off their feelings to everyone in their neighborhood. By showing off what they drive, they’re signalling their emotions to others without coming out and saying so. So maybe you also like the Prius, or maybe you don’t, driving a Prius says something about who you are. This is a purple cow.

Lu Lu Lemon-1Lu Lu Lemon took the active wear clothing category to a whole new level.  This company priced their clothing line at 200-300% higher than comparable discount retailers with a similar product line. This move immediately positioned Lu Lu Lemon as the must have line of clothes for young and old. The reason was because they were different. Many folks couln’t afford them. People were talking and commenting “wow, Sally, your butt looks great in those pants, who makes them?” And there you have another purple cow.

Canad Trust LogoTD Canada Trust is open till 8:00 some nights and recently they’ve started opening on Sunday’s. Why would any bank want to be open for longer hours or on days when all other banks are closed? Simply because no one else was doing it, that’s why! So find out what your competition is NOT doing, and DO IT. No other bank is open on Sunday. That’s their Purple Cow.

FUDD LOGOFuddruckers-I’d say that any restaurant that serves hot jalapeno cheese from a pump would have a purple cow. But, then again, everything about Fuddruckers is different. The ordering process, how you create your own burger, the way they call your name when it’s ready. Everything that Fuddruckers does is different and anytime you go, it will be busy. They’re making a lot of burger fans very happy.

Schindler Elevator-1Schindler Elevator-elevators aren’t your typical consumer product. So how does an elevator company compete? Usually a lot of networking. But recently the Schindler Elevator Corporation changed the game by developing it’s own purple cow. Every elevator ride stops 5, 10, 15 times before it reaches your floor. You need more elevators but there’s no room to put them. Schindler developed a fascinating solution in the Times Square offices of Gap Gemini Ernst & Young. When you approach these elevators, you key in the floor on the control panel. The panel will tell you which elevator will take you to that floor. With a simple preset, Schindler has turned every elevator into an express. Your elevator takes you immediately to your floor and races back. This means taller buildings, fewer elevators and shorter waits. The purple cow.

So it looks like we have two choices: either we become invisible, uncritized, anonymous and safe, or we take a chance at greatness, uniqueness and the Purple Cow. The point? Boring always leads to failure and is always the riskiest strategy. The lesson here is simple: The more intransigent your market, the more crowded the marketplace, the busier your customers, the more you need a Purple Cow.


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