Rock music is only remarkable as a counterpoint to classical music.

Modernist design only seems refreshing next to baroque.

A jacket and tie only have a place in a world of t-shirts and flip-flops.

In short everything that is a “kind” of something is defined relative to other kinds of the same thing.

With these examples above, we never question the ability of the two kinds of thing to co-exist. We never talk about their market share.

We also never expect them to go after each other, to compete. We know that if they did, they would only distort their own offering.

Instead we understand that they operate in balance. They all have their jobs, and they all do them well.

In business we don’t see things the same way. The overlap between different kinds of thing – the different brands in a sector – is far far greater, and therefore so too is the tension between them. The more they look at each other as enemies to be vanquished, the more similar they become.

But if instead they saw each other not as enemies but as counterpoints, they would drift apart. They would find balance. The healthier one entity became (in its own way), the healthier its counterpoint would become through increased contrast. The more baroque the baroque, the more modern the modern.

So rather than attacking our competitors we should wish them well, as this mindset change will start to push us away from them, and bring our own business into increasingly sharp relief.

Let them have what is theirs, and we will find more easily what is ours.