Business musings

Articles and thoughts about Cartoons & Illustrations

“Notice anything different about me?”
Five words that will strike fear into anyone’s heart. The panic as you rapidly assess the options…is it their haircut, new clothes, new car? Help! You’re not sure…Maybe go with the clothes car haircut—that’s probably safest.

Cartoon of a stick person sitting at a table with "?HUH" about her head. Another stick person stands in a doorway with "TADA!" above his head. Through the window, you can just see the outline of a car. The caption reads, "Chloe was struggling to spot anything different about Tim this evening - but then she hadn’t yet seen his new Porsche on the drive."


This is essentially the question businesses ask their potential customers to answer on a daily basis. “Notice anything different about us?” Not necessarily different from yesterday, but different from our competitors.

But more often than not, it’s really not obvious what is different about the business, its products or its services. In a sea of choice, customers need to be able to understand your proposition and what makes you different; what makes you better; what makes you ‘the one’.

You’ll understand from your own purchasing decisions that differentiation is critical to your buying selection, whether you are buying a new car or choosing where you want to grab a bite to eat. At times, you might not be very aware of your decision making process, but you’ll be using multiple buying criteria to make the choice.

  • For example, when buying a TV, Debbie and I could have got it cheaper online; however, the 5-year guarantee that John Lewis offers made buying from them much lower risk.
  • When we’re looking to eat out, there are so many places to choose from, but Millsy’s do a full gluten-free menu that is almost identical to the normal menu which makes me happy. (Remember not to underestimate the power of the minority!)
  • In choosing a tradesperson to work on our house, recommendation is critical—either in person or online to ensure peace of mind that the work is going to be of decent quality.

You get my drift. We always have to justify our buying decision to ourselves in some way, and we’re drawn to difference. We’re drawn to those things that meet our needs.

While this might seem basic, and even somewhat obvious, you’d be surprised how many companies haven’t considered what makes them different or what their key competitive advantage is. Even if they have, it’s often from their own internal perspective (e.g. “We use the DC4543sXF chip instead of the DC4543sXW chip used by our competitors”) rather than their customers’ viewpoint.

Cartoon of two stick people. One is standing in front of shelves on which there are gadgets. Above his head it says, “It’s got a much better chip than the others.” The other stick person is looking at this scene with a thought bubble above his head that shows him eating a plate of chips.

Herein lies the opportunity, for your marketing strategy, innovating your differences, and developing your competitive advantage. By taking your customers’ view of the world, digging into how they see you and your competitors, and understanding your customers’ buying behaviour and decision making processes, you’ll begin to understand how you can make yourself noticeably different—in a way that your customers actually care about!

Beware the Bermuda Triangle of business: the definition of which is a situation, department, organisation that can absorb limitless time, energy and resource with no discernible improvement in performance. Usually caused by the wrong people, wrong managers, wrong processes, wrong systems or all of the above. Proceed with caution should you be lost forever!

Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Cartoons & Illustrations  Technology & Web  

Cartoon showing a stick man leaning back in his chair in front of a computer with the Google web page open. He is on the phone and his speech reads, "Liz, Hi, Trevor here! You don't happen to know what time it is in China do you?" The caption below says, "Trevor sometimes failed to grasp the power and potential of the internet to answer his own questions"



Illustration showing a stick man rummaging through a bin; the man has a question mark above his head. The caption reads, "Fred was sure, if he rummaged hard enough, he would find a problem that matched his solution..."

Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Cartoons & Illustrations  

The cartoon drawing starts with the description "Customer Feedback Processing System". Below that is a drawing of a printer spewing out pages of customer feedback straight into a shredder below. The caption underneath reads, “Because we care (tm)”


Cartoon of a business plan with the text "Tim was proud of his full colour, fully bound business plan - after all, it held the key to his success, his future and his millions. He was certainly glad that everything would happen as it was written..."

Cartoon drawing of four people paddling in a boat on a river. Just ahead of them is a waterfall that their boat is about to drop over. The caption reads, “As a management team, they’d always kept their heads down and just got on with the work at hand.”

Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Cartoons & Illustrations  Strategic Planning  

Cartoon drawing of a man standing at the foot of a road that winds through the middle of hills into the blazing sun. The caption reads, "He didn't have any form of... *Succession plan *Disaster recovery plan *Keyman insurance. He had always been a lucky man. He was sure he'd never need them."

Cartoon drawing of a man standing in front of a map of the world with a blindfold over his eyes and a pinned scarf in his left hand. The caption reads, "Having discussed their international plans with the other directors in the pub last night, Tim wondered if 'pin the tail on the country' was really the best method for selecting a new market?"




Cartoon drawing of a man standing next to two hazard signs. The first sign shows a man teetering on the edge of a steep incline and reads 'Danger! Sudden death'.  The second sign has a picture of a more shallow slope with the words 'Slow decline'. The caption of the cartoon reads, "He wondered what would happen if his business ignored market trends. The options didn't look great!"