Rule Breakers’ Rule Book Revealed: Five Commandments Of Challenger Thinking

Rule Breakers’ Rule Book Revealed: Five Commandments Of Challenger Thinking

The man who gave us the term ‘challenger brand’ 20 years ago in his first book Eating The Big Fish: How Challenger Brands can compete against Brand Leaders, Adam Morgan, took to the stage with PHD’s EMEA chief strategy officer Malcolm Devoy to launch their new book Overthrow II.

In a half hour presentation, the two looked at, among other things, the five common traits all challenger brands have.

These are:

  1. Effectiveness over efficiency: know the difference between the two or risk economising yourself to oblivion. Effectiveness must ultimately win out.
  2. Attitude over audience: complicated, but you’re better off standing for something and telling everyone rather than trying to target a type of audience.
  3. Creativity over relevance: you need to intrigue people and cut through the noise. Reason rarely works
  4. Technology beneath the surface: people are still wary about brands having too much data and you should use technology for products not your target audience.
  5. Share of distinctiveness not share of voice: stand out of course.

The website gives you loads of details on challenger brands, and best of all includes a fun quizz to help you decide what sort of challenger you are.

Overthrow II explores the 10 different challenger strategies, or narratives, used most powerfully today, each of them embodied in interviews with incisive leaders who have used them to break through in their market. We look at the strategic principles that each follows, the media behaviours they practise, and the part that today’s big themes like technology, data, culture and creativity play.

Twenty years after the concept of the challenger brand was coined – and seven years after we first visited the challenger narrative in the original Overthrow – a new wave of challengers has been changing the way the categories around us think and behave. Financed by a new type of investor, harnessing emerging structural changes and new ways to build relationships with their consumers, they have generated an enormous energy and excitement in their marketing and business community.

Common to many of these challengers is a very simple shift in understanding what a challenger is: not a brand that challenges somebody, but a brand that challenges something; specifically, something they feel needs to change.

And challenger behaviour is not confined to the new or the small. Brands of all sizes – whatever their category, competition, heritage or personality – can benefit from adopting a challenger mindset to drive more ambitious growth and make the impact they desire.




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Cannes Lions 2019 Challenger Brands PHD

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