We live in a copycat world. We use the internet as a crutch for any problem we try to solve. And the result is lots and lots of noise.
Instead of trying to be original, we resort to what others have done before. For example, new companies describe what they do with hollow explanations:
- We’re the Wikipedia for Alcoholics
- We handcraft brand experiences to enable brand advocates & consumers.
- Making the world a better place through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility.
The consequence? By trying to outdo the competition, you end up with bloated solutions full of bullshit. Or more adequately defined:
- Superfluous, unneccessary
- Cluttered, clunky, or needlessly complex
- Intentionally deceptive or insincere
- Excrement of an adult male bovine mammal
Brad Frost, Death to Bullshit
The classic example here is Microsoft and Apple. People wanted several different things out of a computer operating system. And that’s what Microsoft gave them with Windows.
It led to a swollen operating system that people struggled to find useful. There were even articles written about removing features you don’t need. Windows became bullshit.
What people really wanted out of an operating system was Macintosh OS X. It does less than Windows, and is twice as useful. It’s beautiful.
Here’s 3 other examples to illustrate why you should do less than competition.
1. We just want the forecast
The Weather Company, yes that’s actually its name, has evolved into a news site that does everything but give you what you want. The weather. It’s full of mindless information.
Meteorologists get paid to be wrong. I didn’t think you could screw up that up. But The Weather Company accomplishes this in spectacular fashion.
2. We just want to see the menu
In-n-out makes delicious hamburgers. And their menu is stupid simple. Double-double. Cheeseburger. Fries. Shake or drink. And if it’s too plain for you, they have a dynamite secret menu with 6 additional options.
McDonalds has grown into a me-too brand. They do everything from salads to snacks to coffee to Shamrock Shakes. You have to explore their menu. I’m serious, McDonald’s has a full menu explorer.
One-hundred and eighty-seven. That’s how many items are on the McDonald’s menu explorer. In-n-out lets you choose from 11 total options, and they keep 6 of them a secret. 11 is not greater than 187, but it’s better.
3. We just want to write
Google is a behemoth of a company. I use several of their products on a daily basis. But I find writing in Google Docs is full of distractions. Unnecessary features that make me feel like Microsoft Word just moved to the cloud.
Google believes it’s giving you everything you need to write online. Except I don’t need a ruler, add ons, and print icon. Draft is the closest experience to writing on a physical piece of paper. It’s amazing.
Don’t do more than the competition.
Because when you try to outdo, you’re thinking behind. And never getting ahead.