Strategy Canvas Template

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What if you could avoid battling for customers with your competitors? Tap into a Blue Ocean market with the simple Strategy Canvas template and differentiate yourself today.

Simple Strategy Canvas template for your business

Many companies use insane amounts of resources to battle with their competitors for market space. What if you could avoid this? The strategy canvas template is based on the idea that long lasting business success will not be found in this red ocean of fierce competition. Instead, businesses should try to open up new “blue ocean markets” and thereby tap into unexplored areas. Value curves thereby help you to develop a blue ocean strategy.

The Strategy Canvas concept was made popular by Kim and Mauborgne in their best selling book "Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant".

The strategy canvas gives you an easy way to visualize the key aspects of your competitors’ strategy through value curves. This gives you the opportunity to differentiate yourself against them by focusing on other factors. Also, by combining competitors’ focus points in new and innovative ways, you can develop new strategies to attract and retain customers.

Blue ocean strategy vs red ocean strategy comparison table
Red vs. Blue Ocean Strategy Differentiation

While many existing strategies focus strongly on how to compete better in existing markets (either through differentiation or through a cost advantage), the idea behind the Blue Ocean Strategy is to find completely new markets. This also means to find customers who’s pain points have not been addressed so far and solve their unsatisfied demand in creative ways. In order to to this, it is also not always necessary to choose between a focus on differentiation or on cost advantage. Instead you can find new ways to differentiate, while still having a low cost business model. The concept is exactly about that: finding new and creative ways to combine different factors and create new business models.

What does a strategy canvas template look like?

In order to use the strategy canvas, we’ve created a template for you to directly put your strategy on paper. Of course you are also welcome to just use our template for inspiration and draw your own canvas. In the following, we will explain the canvas in detail and show you how to use it for your business.

You don't need some kind of strategy canvas creator. The whole process is pretty easy: The strategy canvas consists of a row of factors that determine competition, lines and dots for each competing product or service that you want to compare and a scoring system on top. With the intuitive Strategy Canvas template you can draw Strategy Canvas in seconds.But let’s explain that in some more detail...

Empty Strategy Canvas Template by Really Good Innovationwith 5 columns

The horizontal axis on the strategic canvas shows a range of factors that are critical for competition in a specific industry or market. This could include things such as price level, quality of the products, size of products or customer service.

The vertical axis is a simple scoring range (in this case from 0-5 but you are of course welcome to change that), which is used to rate every factor for each competing product or service. On top you see a small legend with three different lines and dots. These represent the 3 different competing products / services (offerings) that you want to compare with each other.

When you draw a dot in each factor column for one of the offerings and connect these dots, you get a product’s or service’s value curve.

Pro tip: The Strategy Canvas Template is all about comparison. Find at least one product or service that you want to compare with your own offering. We would also advise that you don’t choose more than two or three competing products, in order to keep the canvas clean.

What is the purpose of the strategy canvas?

The canvas has two purposes:

  • It portraits the current state of the known market, and thereby showcases the most important factors an industry is competing on, the offerings available to customers and the strategic profiles of these competing offerings.
  • Via the value curves, it shows you a different perspective on the industry and lets you focus on available alternatives that could help completely new customer segments with their pains. This means a shift away from existing red oceans towards new blue oceans.

How do I use the free strategy canvas template?

There are four simple steps in order to create your strategy canvas.

  1. Identify the competition
  2. Choose the factors of competition
  3. Assess the competition
  4. Define your blue ocean strategy

In the following, all steps are explained in detail, so that you can easily apply the template for your own strategy.

strategy canvas process with four steps
Our approach to the strategy canvas

Step 1: Identify the competition

The first step to draw the strategy canvas is to figure out who you want to compare yourself to. The most straightforward choice are your direct competitors in the industry. Nevertheless, you might also consider to focus on offerings from other industries who address the same customer needs. For example, if you are an airline, the obvious choice would be other airlines. However, you could also include a Virtual Reality company that addresses the customer need to see new and exotic places around the world. Southwest airlines for example looked at cars and compared them to other airlines in order to define a new blue ocean strategy. Check out their canvas here in a Harvard article.

Blue ocean strategy canvas with five columns and three offerings

When identifying your competition for the strategy canvas, it is thus crucial to always look at it from a customer point of view: Which customer need do I want to focus on and who addresses that need? Choose one, two or max. three competitors that you want to focus on and write them down. If possible, have a different color ready for each of them to put them into the canvas.

Step 2: Choose the factors of competition

In the second step, you continue to look at the offerings from a customer perspective: What do the customers value the most? What are key aspects for them? If you are a car manufacturer, these aspects might be comfort of the car, price, maneuverability and maybe technology. Here you should have your own customers in mind, but also the customers of the competitive offers that you chose in Step 1 to focus on. What are factors that are important to the customers of all the products / services you chose in Step 1?


Here it makes sense to go out and talk to customers to find out what factors are the most important to them. Be aware though that customers might not always know themselves what drives their buying decisions. Use a concept such as the Empathy Map to find out about the true customer needs.

If you are struggling with how to find out about true customer needs, check out this podcast by Harvard Business Review:

Step 3: Assess the competition and draw the chart

Now that you decided who to compare against and which factors to base the comparison on it is time to go to the strategy canvas tool! Print out our template or draw an empty canvas yourself. Start with one of the offerings you want to compare against and evaluate it according to the scale on your template (in our template you would rank the offering from 1-5 for each factor). Draw a dot or a small cross into each of the factor-columns and then connect these dots with a line. This is your first value curve, which shows how value is created for the customers! Repeat the process for the other products or services you chose to compare against.

Pro tip: don’t do the evaluation alone! Discuss within your team how the different products / services rank. You might have a very subjective point of view! Also don’t forget to include actual customer feedback!

Your strategy canvas template might now look something like this:

Strategy canvas example with three competitors
Strategy Canvas Example: Chocolate Companies in Jordan, by Ibrahim Rawabdeh

Step 4: Define your new Strategy

Now it is time to define your own strategy. Therefore you need to analyze the strategy canvas and identify opportunities to differentiate yourself from existing offerings. You want to draw a line that is clearly different than the ones of your competitors. If some competitor is good in one factor and another competitor is bad in this factor but good in a second one, then think about how you can be in between. How can you combine this factors? Pick a combination of factors that could appeal to a whole customer segment. See where you could be better than the competition and where it is maybe not necessary to be better. Afterwards, use the Business Model Canvas to map out your new strategy in detail.

Key takeaways

The Strategy Canvas can be a powerful tool to avoid fierce competition and instead find new market opportunities. In order to make the most out of the tool:

  • Look at potential competitors also from different industries
  • Include your whole team in the process
  • Talk to your customers about their needs
  • Be open minded about completely new business models

If you feel like you still haven’t quite understood the concept of blue ocean strategy, read the blue ocean strategy book by Kim and Mauborgne or check out this video by Harvard Business Review:

Blue Ocean Strategy Explanation Video by Harvard Business Review

How do I create a strategy canvas?

Let's sum it up: Decide about the competitive offers you want to compare, choose the factors of competition that you want to base the comparison on, draw the value curves, and understand where the opportunity lays for your business.

This article gives you all the tools you need. If you want to create your own template, simply follow the instructions above after drawing a simple strategy canvas grid.

Also, if you would rather get the template as a strategy canvas template word or ppt just send us an email at hello@reallygoodinnovation.com.

Check out other Resources on https://www.reallygoodinnovation.com/ and become part of our Innovator Community on Slack!

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Pros:

One of the easiest, yet best frameworks. Whether you just want to play around and brainstorm some new ideas or whether you actually need to come up with a new product for your company, this template will help you a lot. Just by comparing two or three competitors on different dimensions visually shows great results and opens your eyes to new opportunities.

Cons:

This templates depends very much on what competitors and dimensions you choose. Make sure to think a bit outside the box. Don't just think who is my direct competitor but also think about substitute products. And when choosing the comparison dimensions, make sure to look at it from a customer point of view. If these aspects are not considered, the template won't create any value.

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