Posted on 21/09/2012


Fragment of an idea:

I was at a talk called New brands on the block: Insight from emerging markets” from Professor Amitava Chattopadhyay.

The way he talked, it seemed almost easier to succeed as a nimble challenger brand than as a cumbersome multinational company. You can adapt, cut costs and specialise more easily than a large organisation, and as he saw it, the future belongs to these kinds of companies.

The concept of a brand can be applied to anything: a company, country, even a religion and a lot of the time it’s applied to people. So if we applied it to ourselves, what kinds of brands would we be?

Established multinationals:
– well established way of doing things
– higher labour costs and overheads
– less open to new approaches

Based on similar characteristics: anyone with a family, a mortgage or most people who’ve been in the job market over 20 years.

Challenger brands
– open to new approaches
– flexible and adaptable
– cheaper, but still high quality

Based on similar characteristics: young people, slashers, career changers

Clearly, it’s not sustainable to be a challenger brand forever and if you were, that would kinda suggests that you had never established yourself. But if such a thing is impossible, aren’t we all doomed to end up an incumbent established brand?

Not necessarily. People who escape this trap do so because they transition from challenger to luxury brand. They become sought after because they are high quality and their services are hard to come by.

Which in turn suggests that one route for established brands: re-specialise and go upmarket.