MUTEKI Brands - Lessons From In-N-Out Burgers, Trader Joe's And Ikea On How We Can Make Our Own Brands More Invincible.

This post is the introduction of a new business book I’m working on. Enjoy.


We occasionally discover great and inspiring brands, but every once in a while, we come across a very special kind of brand.

Where other brands scramble to adapt to the latest trends and adopt the latest technologies and tactics, these brands grow and innovate on their own terms. While others respond to pressures of competition and the rapid change in the environment, these companies stick to the basics and focus on what they do best. These are the companies that stay calm and carry on no matter how strong the winds are and how bad the weather is.

These brands are anchored. They are confident. Why? Because their customers are like diehard fans of sport teams; they exhibit extreme loyalty to these brands. These brands captivate their hearts and fully earn their trust. Their customers are not just customers, they are their tribe.

I'm sure you've encountered a few brands like this. Here's three I've discovered.

Consider the California burger chain that only added two additional items (lemonade and hot cocoa) to their already simple menu of less than 10 items in the last 20 years. Yet, this mini chain is considered a must-go place when visiting California by many and its drive-thru always has a line of cars whether it’s twelve in the afternoon or twelve in the midnight.

Or take the US supermarket where Canadians will drive across the country border to purchase items from the store. While other supermarkets provide value by curating various brands of products, surprisingly, this supermarket’s offering is 90% private label.

Lastly consider the furniture franchise where people line up when a new store opens. (This was way before Apple Store lines were a thing.) The conventional rule is to give products friendly names, but for this furniture franchise, their product names are so difficult to pronounce that they got made fun of in a hit super hero movie.)

These companies defy conventional thinking. It’s as if the rules of the playground don’t apply to them. They are the tortoises of the Aesop fable we all know; they win the race by being slow and steady. They win by moving forward at their own pace and terms toward the finish line.

I call these companies MUTEKI brands.

MUTEKI means “invincible” in Japanese. It is a Japanese word made up of two characters: “no” and “enemy,” literally meaning having no one that can rival you.

What makes MUTEKI brands different? What sets them apart? What is their secret? That is what I attempt to answer in this book.

Here’s what you’ll learn

In this book, we will explore three MUTEKI brands: the California hamburger chain In-N-Out Burgers, the US super market chain Trader Joe’s, and the Swedish furniture franchise IKEA. Through detailed case studies, you will gain insights on how you can make your own brand more invincible.

You will discover:

  • how these companies cultivate their culture

  • what makes their culture unique

  • their business model and strategy

  • their key success factors

  • takeaways and best practices for building invincible brands

These brands have inspired me and delighted me, and I can’t be more excited to share with you what’s going behind the scenes that makes them MUTEKI.


Thank you for reading. I'll share more contents as I finish them here.

If you’d like to gets updates on my progress with this book, you can subscribe to my Built On Purpose Newsletter, which introduces you to a purpose-driven company every other week.