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Superhero Branding

The Power of Specialization in an Age of Generalists

Hey hey this is Marisa. I’m right outside of Sunny Blue, which is one of my favorites hole in the wall restaurants in Los Angeles. And what they serve is — get this — rice balls. That is all they serve as rice balls otherwise known as omosubi.

Here’s the thing: when you think about a Japanese restaurant, most Japanese restaurants want to be — what? They want to be a sushi restaurant, maybe they want to be a ramen restaurant, maybe a shabu shabu restaurant. But this restaurant, all they want to do is serve rice balls and do rice balls really really really really well.

When you really draw your line in the sound, and you say: “This is what I’m about. This is what I’m doing.”

I’m doing rice balls. And you choose a specialty, a specialization, it pulls you out of the land of the generalists who are trying to be like everybody else — do exactly what everybody else is doing. All the Japanese restaurants are doing sushi, so I should be doing sushi.

No, they choose to do rice balls, and usually there’s a line out the door because of that. Because everybody wants rice balls and they’re so freaking good. Not only do they do rice balls, but they do rice bowls so good they just melt in your mouth. They’re delicious. They’re amazing. The seaweed is super crispy and all the different flavors that they have — it’s so good.

So people line up because the rice ball is like the American hamburger, right? But nobody dedicates a store to rice balls even in Japan. Maybe they come in a little supermarket and you get them at Famima or something like that. But rarely do you see an entire store devoted to rice bowls. That’s the power of specialization in a world with so many people are generalists.

If you’re trying to go online or you’re trying to stand out even on a city block like this in Los Angeles, then why not double down on a specialty? Do something really really small. And do it so freakin’ well that you become the best in the world or the best in your city block at that particular thing. Or the best on the Internet at that particular thing.

So become the kind of business owner creates a rice ball restaurant, not a sushi restaurant.

When you draw your line in the sand and claim that specialty, nobody is going to be out to compete with you.

That’s the power of being something very very specific to a group of people who are going to love you, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. And when you do, you end up becoming nothing to no one.

All right? So I’m going to eat this thing right now, because I’m getting hungry and they smell so freakin’ good.

All right. This was a Lucky Cat with pickles and wasabi. And this one’s miso beef. OK? That’s how excited I am about rice balls I’ve got to come and do this like once a week or once every two weeks because they’re so good. All right.

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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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