Designing your industry’s future.

It’s so easy for business owners to look at what “industry leaders” are doing for inspiration. For instance, if you want to build a “world class design agency,” you might think about mimicking what big agencies are doing right now.

However, it’s the differences and the details that often make your business distinct from your competition. What’s different about your company becomes what’s better, even if you don’t have the resources of your big-brand competitor.

A few years ago, InterContinental Hotels (the parent company of Holiday Inn) bought boutique hotel chain Kimpton for nearly a half billion dollars.

What made their brand so valuable? When Kimpton first started, they defined their values as everything that Holiday Inn and their other big competitors were not. According to this Skift oral history of the design hotels trend, the changes that Kimpton made to lobbies, rooms, and staffing have since become the “price of admission” for running a property in the travel business.

What’s the difference you’re making in your business right now that your biggest competitor will have to copy from you in 20 years?

Originally published at on May 3, 2017.