Archives for : distinction

What is wrong with this picture Staples?



What is wrong with this picture Staples?

I just saw this add on Pandora and could not resist. I literally did a double-take. “Why in the world did they put a sprayer attachment in their logo?” was an immediate question that ran through my head. Since when does Staples offer gardening tools? Aren’t you violating your own brand?

This is an example of diversification. In my estimate, in a bad way. I would never expect to find “sprayers” at an office supply store. Not even from their website. For example, here are the results from the search term sprayer:


I personally champion distinction and specialization. In a world of way too much information, and way too many “you-are-a-consumer-so-consume-more-stuff” messages, I rely on specialization to find what I’m looking for.  When I need everything quickly, I’m going to hit a one-stop-shop like Target or Walmart. Otherwise, for home theater I’m going to The Sound Room, for office supplies I’ll go to an office supply store. When I want garden tools, I go to Lowes or Sears Hardware. Bottom line: I want to shop at a store that specializes in the type of product I want.

Scott McKain is an author who champions distinction. He is an expert who writes, speaks, and consults about creating distinction. One of McKain’s distinction principles smacks Staples in the face:

“The organization that fails to create distinction will fall to its competitors.”

In the end, I believe this move to diversify will hurt Staples. Maybe they will earn a few dollars on purchases beyond paper and pens, sure. But could they have invested the same effort (time, creativity, and funds) towards further creating distinction for their own brand?

How about you?

  • Where have you found a store violating it’s own specialization?
  • How do those extra products or services change your perception?