November 27, 2019

Be Like Water: Marketing Tips from Bruce Lee

Recently, our office watched a 1971 interview that Pierre Berton had with legendary martial arts master, Bruce Lee. During this captivating and thought-provoking 30-minute talk, Lee and Berton deeply explored the philosophy behind martial arts. Admittedly, Lee probably didn’t have marketing in mind when imparting his wisdom but we couldn’t help but see the striking and surprising similarities. So, without further ado, here are four insightful marketing lessons from Bruce Lee.

 

Be adaptive

“Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Be like water, my friend!”

Whether it is your audience’s changing concept of value or the disruption of emerging tech – we must learn to adapt. Today’s success is tomorrow’s failure. In today’s rapidly transforming consumer landscape, it is crucial to adapt to your audience’s constantly evolving needs. Holding on to outdated and archaic business practices will, in time, only turn your brand into a relic of the past. The most successful businesses in the world are constantly innovating, staying on top of market trends and dissecting their consumers’ needs. Be like water, my friend!

 

Know thyself. Be thyself.

“It’s easy for me to put on a show and be cocky. But to honestly express yourself… that, my friend, is very hard to do. You have to train, keep your reflexes so when you want it, it’s there! When you want to move, you are moving and determined to move.”

We saw two very important business lessons here:

Firstly, it is crucial to deeply understand your brand. Many businesses get hooked on a vague concept to drive their branding efforts but then never take the time to really nail it down. This will always lead to confusion and wasted time among your staff when crafting your brand presence. Just because you act like a brand, doesn’t make you a brand – today’s audience isn’t naive, they will see right through your facade. 

Secondly, once you truly understand your brand — immersing yourself in its culture and breathing its values — you can act as an autonomous brand entity. There is no confusion, no need to double-check and you can act with no hesitation.

Continuously reviewing, narrowing down the positioning and core purpose of your brand is a vital aspect of business optimisation.

Know thy customer.

“It’s not difficult to learn and speak the words. The hard thing, the difficult thing, is the meaning behind those words: what brought on the expression and feelings behind those words.” 

As mentioned earlier, another significant part of establishing your brand is fully understanding your customers and their needs.

The very purpose of a brand is to communicate a business’ services in a relatable way that resonates with your target audience. The better you understand this target audience, the better you can tailor your communication strategies.

Many businesses only assign very broad categories to their target market, but it’s the research beyond that point that will yield the most significant and valuable insights

 

Ying and Yan – Finding the balance

“You see, it’s a combination of both. Here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony. If you have one to the extreme, you’ll be very unscientific. If you have another to the extreme, you become, all of a sudden, a mechanical man…no longer a human being. So it is a successful combination of both,”

No matter in which client-facing industry you find yourself, finding that sweet spot between the creative and the technical is essential. Sure, different industries will find their respective sweet spots on different places of the spectrum but it will never be either one or the other. 

Human beings are strange and complex creatures. To truly connect with your audience, you must speak to both their pragmatic and emotional side.

Shapeshift has a wealth of experience in helping businesses master the art of adaptation. From optimising and automating business operations and implementing dynamic growth solutions to conducting thorough customer intelligence research, we partner with businesses and guide them through the rapidly transforming digital landscape.