New, energetic and disruptive brands are taking on larger, established ones. How can a challenger brand learn and be successful?
We’re so familiar with a brand like easyJet that it’s hard to remember the expensive world of air travel before it launched. Virgin Atlantic before that took on the mighty BA by offering lower priced long haul flights. These were originally two hugely successful challenger brands that took risks and won. Now we have a host of challengers like Brewdog and Under Armour in the lager and sportswear sectors respectively. They look charismatic against their mighty brand rivals – the huge corporates that dominate their markets. And Ovo Energy has introduced personality and simplicity in energy retail showing the big six how to do it differently. And then there’s the challengers in the sharing economy: Uber, Airbnb and so on.
All these challengers take risks, re-write rules and manage to make the older behemoths look staid and dated. According PR Week recently, to be a successful challenger, there are five strategic steps that marketers and communicators can learn from:
First – find a new truth or be first in a new category. That’s about finding a new need or want that even the customers hadn’t noticed before. Redefine the category you’re operating in so that you become the leader. Second, be a thought leader, not a market leader. That means sharing your point of view and expertise relentlessly and if you have defined a new category, that is easy to do. Third, have a fabulous product (natch). And make the product easy to get, easy to use and fun – that means great processes, great communications, great customer service. Fourth, take on the incumbents. Start a new narrative where the huge multinational becomes the bad guy. Fifth, Take risks to be relevant and noticed. All successful challenger brands do this.