The Competitive Landscape

ONCE UPON a time, when we were young and foolish, we were on a softball team together. New York City runs numerous leagues all summer long, and we both worked for ad agencies that didn’t field teams. So we formed a ragtag assortment of unaffiliated players. The team wasn’t very good, and in the spirit of the times, we named ourselves “Brand X.” We had a good laugh when we came up with that name.

Whenever we showed up for a game, the opposition knew they were playing Brand X. Brand X (back in those days, when you didn’t mention the competition) was, in the parlance of the ad business, the loser product that would always get beaten in the end. Which is what happened to us just about all summer long. Virtually every ...

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