3 Strategies to Make Your Business Blue Ocean

by Joe Fontenot

3 Strategies to Make Your Business Blue Ocean

A lot of businesses–by definition–are not blue ocean companies. They’re fighting it out in the bloody red ocean of rising competition and lowering demand.

The good news is, the shift to a happy blue ocean is possible.

In W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s latest book, Blue Ocean Shift, they outline three components to a blue ocean strategy:

  1. Divergence
  2. Focus
  3. Compelling Tagline

If you include these three components in your strategy, you will be on your way to becoming a blue ocean company.

3 Factors of a Blue Ocean Strategy


Your basic strategy canvas needs to be different from the industry leaders.

Take for instance this strategy canvas for Southwest airlines (click here for more on their blue ocean strategy).

The mainstream competition is in the center. The value Southwest provides has a notable divergence.

This means giving up competing in certain areas (for Southwest that’s lounges, seating classes, etc.).


As Kim and Mauborgne write: you “shouldn’t just over-deliver or under-deliver on the same set of factors the rest of the industry competes on. Rather, [you] should concentrate on the key factors that can offer buyers a leap in value.”

In other words, it’s not about incremental changes, it’s about looking in completely new or different areas.

Look again at the Strategy canvas for Southwest airlines. Where their competition is moderate, Southwest is weak. And where their competition continues to be moderate, Southwest becomes strong.

Instead of spreading out their resources to compete everywhere their competition does, they’ve focused, creating a superior offering in only some areas.

Compelling Tagline

This last component can seem like window dressing. As if: I don’t have time for everything, so I’ll skimp here.

But that’s a mistake.

The first two factors are about your business structure. But it’s this last factor that communicates that value to your customers. Without the clear communication element, the first two steps are wasted.

StoryBrand is a company built specifically for helping brands clarify their message so people will listen.

How to Get Started

Kim and Mauborgne’s two books are an excellent foundation (Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift).

Next, they’ve created Blue Ocean Studio (about $30/mo) to walk you through the process. Or you can read Blue Ocean Shift, which details it as well.

Finally, I’m a StoryBrand certified guide and copywriter, and I can help you get your messaging to where it needs to be to move your company into blue ocean waters.