Upsetting the apple cart – challenger brands.

It has only recently occurred to me I have predominantly worked for challenger brands.  It is exciting to work for those wishing to rattle, if not debunk, the status quo but challenging is as challenging does.

Classically, the challenger brand is the one which boldly goes where no brand has gone before.  Done well it can reinvigorate an industry for the consumer as well as innovate new products and solutions.  Over my time working in these brands, I have come to some conclusions.

If you are going to challenge the industry stalwarts, do it.  Using a ‘me too but better’ strategy seems counterproductive.  If a company/brand/organisation believes there is an opportunity to do it differently then it can’t be a marginal difference.  It needs to be large and obvious or else why bother challenging?  The incumbent is clearly better versed and more resourced in their strategy or else they wouldn’t be number one.

This inevitably leads to having to be creative and really understand what needs changing in the market.  A great message at the right time will make a huge impact.  This doesn’t need to be a shocking message nor does it necessarily need a huge investment –  just a bunch of great minds working towards the same cause.

This group of great minds will need to exist inside and outside the organisation.  Employees will need to be devotees to the cause but also so will the external partners, suppliers and agents.  If they aren’t, there is less chance of success and in my experience, they tend to self-select themselves out.  There will be times of great triumph and times of #backtothedrawingboard – everyone involved needs to be prepared for the ride.

What next?  The passion for change is ignited, a great strategy is devised to upset the apple cart and the team is onboard.  Now be honest.  Tell the market what, or who, will be challenged. Do what you say you are going to do.  Continually seek feedback.  And above all else, stay nimble and committed to the cause.

After a bumpy but exhilarating start, the dust settles and you may not be in number one position but you are closer and some of those ahead of you are nervous.  Now is not the time to rest.  Now is the time to keep ahead of the game.

It sounds exhausting and it can be, however, it makes for a rewarding and creative career.

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