Different, Not Just Better: Why Striving for Uniqueness Outweighs Being #1

August 13, 2023
3 min read

In the world of competition and success, the common belief is that being the best is the ultimate goal. However, there is a growing perspective that emphasizes the importance of striving to be unique rather than focusing solely on being the best. This approach recognizes that true success lies in creating value and differentiation, rather than simply outperforming others. Let's explore this concept further and examine the critique of the Blue Ocean Strategy, which aligns with the idea of striving to be unique.

Striving to be unique, not the best, is a concept that has been advocated by renowned strategist Michael Porter. Porter suggests that strategic competition should involve choosing a path different from that of others, rather than competing to be the best. This approach emphasizes the creation of unique value and how it is delivered. It encourages businesses to differentiate themselves by offering something distinct and valuable to their customers. By focusing on uniqueness, companies can carve out their own niche and stand out in the market [1].

One of the key advantages of striving to be unique is that it allows businesses to avoid direct competition with others. Instead of engaging in a crowded market where competition is fierce, companies can create their own market space by offering something different and innovative. This approach opens up new opportunities and reduces the need to constantly outperform competitors. It also enables businesses to attract customers who are looking for unique and differentiated offerings [2].

Critique of Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy, introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, is a popular framework that encourages businesses to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant. While the strategy has gained recognition and success, it is not without its critics.

One of the criticisms of the Blue Ocean Strategy is that it lacks a clear and consistent way of measuring its impact and performance. Evaluating the effectiveness of the strategy and quantifying its results can be challenging. Critics argue that without a robust measurement system, it is difficult to determine the success or failure of implementing the strategy [3].

Another critique of the Blue Ocean Strategy is that it may not always be feasible to create a completely uncontested market space. In some industries, competition is inevitable, and it may not be possible to completely eliminate rivals. Critics argue that the strategy's emphasis on creating new market space may overlook the reality of existing competition and the need to compete effectively within established markets [4].

Furthermore, some critics argue that the Blue Ocean Strategy may not be suitable for all types of businesses or industries. The strategy's focus on innovation and differentiation may be more challenging for companies operating in highly regulated or mature industries. In such cases, businesses may need to balance the pursuit of uniqueness with the need to meet industry standards and regulations [5].

It is important to note that while the Blue Ocean Strategy has its critics, it has also been praised for its innovative approach to business strategy. The strategy has been successful in helping companies discover new market opportunities and differentiate themselves from competitors. However, it is essential for businesses to carefully evaluate the applicability and feasibility of the strategy in their specific industry and market context.

Striving to be unique, not the best, offers a different perspective on achieving success. It emphasizes the importance of creating value and differentiation rather than solely focusing on outperforming competitors. While the Blue Ocean Strategy aligns with this concept, it is not without its critics. The strategy's lack of a clear measurement system and its feasibility in different industries are among the critiques raised. Nonetheless, the Blue Ocean Strategy has proven to be a valuable framework for businesses seeking to explore new market opportunities and differentiate themselves.


  1. Magretta, J. (n.d.). Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta - Summary and Notes.
  2. Ventureburn. (2013). Aim to be unique, not the best: truths about competition from Michael Porter.
  3. LinkedIn. (n.d.). Blue Ocean Strategy: Criticisms, Impact, and Communication.
  4. Shah, P. (2018). Blue Ocean Strategy. Critical Analysis of Blue Ocean.
  5. Forbes. (2019). Looking For A Blue Ocean Strategy? Consider These Three Risks.

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