Apr 15 2021

Who doesn’t like the story of the underdog? Most of us love a good David versus Goliath underdog story. Tales of when a longshot has achieved much more than what was expected extend to all walks of life and while not just reserved for the sporting world, some of the most notable examples are right there: think the U.S. hockey team’s improbable victory in the 1980 Olympics when they were 1000-1 to win gold.

The underdog’s narrative cousin is the challenger brand. While you may not be as familiar with the term “challenger brand”, you are actually surrounded by a multitude of brands that have business ambitions bigger than their conventional resources, prepared to do something bold to break through, usually against the existing codes or conventions of the category. Their mindset defines them. Those are the characteristics of the challenger. Think of Ben & Jerry’s founded in 1978 versus Häagen-Dazs. But today there is a twist.

What is a ‘challenger brand?’

From Airbnb and Casper Mattress to Polestar and Aviation Gin, challenger brands are redefining the way we vacation, sleep, drive, unwind, and far more. Being a challenger brand is no longer about one company pitting itself against another, rather a focus on what they are disrupting instead of who. The brand is challenging something they feel needs changing. It’s about them versus the industry.

The mission-driven desire is to progress the category to benefit the customer. And critically, the expectations of what a customer experience feels like. But like with so many things in life, no secret sauce creates that challenger magic. There is no standard ruleset either.

A challenger brand takes many forms and tends to represent character traits like fairness, bravery, and persistence, which people view in a positive light. Challenger brands are not be confused with disruptor brands which are more focused on becoming or overtaking the market leader.

So, let’s say you have a great idea for a game-changing product, service, or strategy that you believe will challenge the conventional norm. Think Lemonade and the world of insurance. You’ve got ambitions that go way beyond hitting big numbers and you and your team share the fundamental, collective belief that the organization is unlike any other. How do you go about showcasing your new positioning and culture with real clarity? Well, your communication behavior is key.

How do you tell your story?

How you go about communicating needs to convey your personality and real emotion, all while helping you meet your strategic priorities. You’re conversing with people, building relationships for the long term, generating brand awareness and a feeling of trust. Loyalty. You’re telling a story and brand storytelling has never been more important.

A survey of more than 200 brand marketers carried out by AdWeek found that 49% of respondents believe the ability to craft a brand narrative is the most important characteristic of a challenger brand. Authenticity is in. It’s powerful.

Ironically in this age of real digital transformation, organizations pivoting online at breakneck speed all around us, bringing in face-to-face opportunities where people can really touch and get immersed in your brand is a good move. Ally this with the ability to tell a story using mobile digital channels such chat apps (think WhatsApp Business) and Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS, adding in social media platforms like Instagram, and we’ve seen our Enterprise customers flourish.

Challenging, disrupting can fall into something chaotic if the clarity is missing. But with a great mobile engagement strategy in your pocket and Mitto in your corner providing a suite of innovative (yet well understood by customers) digital channels packaged nicely into an easily deployed and managed Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) solution, you’ll be taking a strong, positive stride towards attaining your entrepreneurial goals.