INTRODUCING THE DISCIPLINE OF CATEGORY DESIGN
Category design is the discipline of creating and monetizing new markets in a noisy world. Articulating the problem you solve. The problem is the proxy for the category. The category problem is putting its finger on the strategic missing you see in the world. That insight or missing that keeps you up at night and the thing that drives you to build a product, company, and category to solve it.
Many of the elements of category design have existed for decades. In fact, many of the greatest leaders of technology adoption have been practicing this discipline for decades. These legends made sure that the world understood why their breakthrough innovations mattered. They educated the market about why they should consider doing things in a new way with a new technology. They intuitively lead their markets by teaching customers why they should abandon old ways and embrace new ways.
They just didn’t know it was a discipline called Category Design!
Category design as a disciplined approach to taking these unspoken instincts making them explicit.
Category Design is a journey.
Figure 6: The Category Design Journey
The key components of the Category Design journey include:
Articulating the founding teams' technology or market insights. It puts its finger on the strategic missing you see in the world. That insight or missing that keeps you up at night and the thing that drives you to build a product, company, and category to solve it.
Identifying your “plutonium” – which is your unique solution to this problem. Your answer needs to be put into the right category container for people to see it and understand why it solves the problem.
Defining your category name. The category name is comprised of the market type, the nature of the problem, and the audience who has the problem. It’s a name that will evolve over time as your category expands.
Detailing your product blueprint and ecosystem map. A powerful category blueprint sets the agenda for solving an urgent and giant problem. This works hand in hand with your category ecosystem, which paints a clear picture of how customers, developers, and partners all work together. Category design helps you own the control points that generate fierce loyalty and gratitude for your product and company.
Defining your company’s point of view. Your POV frames the problem, explains the ramifications for not acting, presents a vision for the future and explains the business outcomes of embracing this vision. Your POV makes it crystal clear what you stand for, what you stand against, and why customers should choose you over the rest.
Executing Lightning Strikes to drive go-to-market, marketing, public relations and advertising focusing on conditioning the market to your category solution. Lightning Strikes use both air wars and ground wars to change the way people think. They draw heavily on the brain science research and it is much more than positioning, campaigns, messaging and branding. The Lightning Strike playbook aligns every function of your business to work together to move the minds of your customers and users from the old way to the new way. Lightning Strikes condition the entire market and
Driving your company culture. Category Design is directly connected to the kind of company you build, the type of people you hire, and the type of community around the company including investors, partners,
Above all, Category design is making all of these components work together, in lock step, feeding off each other, so each action builds momentum for the category and its leader.