The media adores headlines such as "Samsung vs. Apple: The Smartphone War" or "Disney+ vs. Netflix: Who Is Winning the Streaming War?" I'm sure these headlines outperform others. I never heard anything about General Tim Cook planning an attack on Samsung. There may be strategic or tactical maneuvers, but this is not a battle. That they are participants in a race would be a more appropriate comparison. While the victor of a war takes all, the victor of a race keeps their scores and can continue the competition. Each runner receives a score in each competition. Apple and Samsung are not alone. Competitors in the race include Xiaomi, Google, Huawei, and others. Are these brands enemies or friends? Let's be honest here: rivalry with other businesses or brands is not a war.

Think about McDonald's or Burger King. McDonald's established the fast food market, and Burger King followed in its footsteps. Now, thanks to the competition they faced, there is a huge appetite for the American way of life, or American fast food culture. Without this rivalry, McDonald's could never hope to become a global brand. Keep in mind that healthy rivalry is essential and good for everyone. We should be aware of the consequences of war and not fall into a mentality of "us against them.”  Companies can avoid the high costs of war by learning about their rivals so they can develop more effective strategies.

Take a look at these rivals:

  • iOS vs. Android
  • Nike vs. Adidas
  • Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi
  • Explorer vs. Chrome
  • Hotmail vs. Gmail
  • Instagram vs. Tiktok

They competed against one another, developed brand-new product categories, and even influenced culture.

As a result, I strongly disapprove of any and all Sun Tzu-inspired business strategies. I think we have more to say about strategy than passages from "The Art of War" 2,500 years after his passing. These days, he is used by strategists as a crutch for their flimsy arguments. I feel bad about this. Businesses can improve their strategies and gain an advantage over the competition if they have a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape and their rivals.

Let's stop using war scenarios in our branding and marketing strategies. You cannot lead others if you do not understand your role as a marketing strategist.

Sun Tzu said before in the book “The Art of War”:

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” 🤣