Who’s got the biggest Christmas tree?

09Dec09

In downtown Chicago, buildings spend some serious money on holiday decorations. My apartment building has a big Christmas tree in the lobby, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen in the office buildings nearby. Those places put up trees that must be 15 or 20 feet high, along with wreaths the size of a small car. It’s like an arms race for holiday cheer.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to see the buildings that take a slightly different approach. I still remember the display that one oddball building used last year. Along with the usual tree, they installed a diorama featuring a life-sized polar bear and some sort of leopard or bobcat. It was funny, whimsical, and more than a little bit bizarre. And despite all the giant trees I saw elsewhere, the diorama building was the most memorable.

What’s the takeaway here? If everyone else is competing to be the biggest, loudest, or brightest, you can win mindshare by being different. Sure, you’ll still need to do something exceptional to achieve a lasting benefit. But competing on a unique dimension or attribute may be a lot cheaper and more effective than an arms race with the other guys. Meanwhile, back in the world of office Christmas trees, I’m quite curious what the polar bear diorama folks will cook up this year.



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