How challenger brands can amplify their story

Competitive advantage and Challenger BrandsWhat makes a challenger brand?

The classic view of a challenger brand is David vs Goliath, the plucky newcomer against the established incumbent.

Its an easy to see the appeal.  There aren’t many people who don’t find themselves rooting for the underdog in these stories (and in sports finals!). Its a story with immediate appeal and a very strong hook!

In reality, there’s often more to the challenger story. There are huge companies, like Nike or Red Bull, who think and act like challengers, as well as being market leaders. The challenger ethos runs deep in their souls.

Thinking differently can be strong strategic option and lead to great loyalty and market share.

What can we learn from all of these successful challengers?

Nuances in the challenger narrative

The nuances in these challenger stories are what really resonate with their customers and clients. How they tell their story is all about their strategic positioning in the market.

In Overthrow, Adam Morgan and Mark Holden argue that there are ten different types of Challenger brands. Each of these has a very distinctive mission and follow very specific strategies for gaining market share. Some you’ll be very familiar with and others will come as more of a surprise:

The Irreverent Maverick (Red Bull, Brewdog)
The Missionary (Al-Jazeera)
The Next Generation (Audi’s recent success in the US)
The Democratiser
The Real and Human Challenger (Innocent in the UK)
The Enlightened Zagger (Camper shoes)
The Visionary
The Game Changer (Disrupters in financial services)
The People’s Champion (Virgin)
The Feisty Underdog (back to David and Goliath)

What’s your challenger story?

You may well see a blend of ideas which speak to your brand – but there will be one key theme that underlies them all.

Luckily, the authors have made a quick and easy way to test your brand positioning. They have a short quiz here, which you can use to test your own values as well as brand values.

Check you’re choosing a congruent story!

When choosing your narrative, its also important to check whether it is in line with how your customers perceive you. When you get it right, you’ll be able to make a powerful connection, quickly.

If you’re not on the same page with your story, its going to be a long, awkward, uphill struggle.

If you decide that one of these challenger narratives fits well with your business, don’t be afraid to check in with your customers and ask them whether they agree with your views. In the course of these conversations you may well unearth some gems, which will either add to or help reshape your approach.

Will you be incorporating a challenger narrative into your strategy?

If any of these elements has struck a chord you have a brilliant opportunity to stand out by building on what you already do differently.

Just remember, successful challengers come in all shapes, sizes and flavours, you don’t have to be Go Pro or Red Bull to stand out!

If you’d be interested in finding out more about how you could use a challenger narrative in your marketing strategy please contact me and I’d be happy to set up a free strategy call.


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