On Wednesday, we blogged about eight of the 16 books that have influenced and helped transform LOOMIS over the years. Today, we look at the second set of eight in the hope you will enjoy them as much as we have. If you’re building a challenger brand (or a challenger brand agency), they are a great place to start.
UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGER ETHOS
Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan
This fantastic book was the first and still the best book written about challenger branding. In logical, comprehensive fashion, Adam Morgan lays out the roadmap for smaller brands who want to compete against the brand leaders and does so in a way that’s energizing and motivating. Challenger branding requires a completely different way of thinking and a resolve to commit, take calculated risks, and get your team focused on a unified purpose. If you’re a challenger brand, or in charge of building one, this is required reading.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Though this book isn’t specifically written about challenger branding, the subtitle—Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants—is, in essence, what it’s all about. Everyone loves the underdog, especially when they win. Why? Because they’re unconventional. They’re scrappy and crafty and don’t give up. The challenger brand mindset is finding a way where there is no way. It’s looking at overwhelming odds and a bigger more powerful opponent and knowing you’ve got ’em right where you want ’em. This great little book is a wonderful reminder of that.
Becoming A Category of One by Joe Calloway
“Don’t strive to be a leader in your category. Create a different category and be the only one in it.” Those are the opening words to Joe Calloway’s classic business book and the perfect framing for every challenger brand. No company in third place, seventh place, or last place is going to beat the market leader by doing the exact same things they do. In most cases, the company in front can vastly outspend their competitors and throw resources at problems smaller companies can’t possibly match. But that doesn’t mean you can’t outthink them. That’s where differentiating your brand begins, and it’s the whole focus of this fantastic read.
UNDERSTANDING HOW TO THINK DIFFERENTLY
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
No one in branding and marketing is hotter right now than Simon Sinek, and that all stems from this brilliant book. So often, we believe consumers buy into brands because of what they do. Instead, Sinek argues, consumers love brands not for what they do but why they do it. We don’t love Apple because they make the best phones and computers. We love Apple because they give us freedom of expression and give us the tools to think differently. Before any challenger brand can succeed, they too have to ask themselves why they do what they do and move out from there. Consumers buy compelling narratives. And in this soon-to-be-classic, Sinek spins a great one.
Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
The first of the Freakanomics series (followed by SuperFreakanomics and Think Like A Freak) is another great reminder of the power that comes from looking at the world in a different way. This fascinating book takes conventional economic situations and then asks some very unconventional questions to get to the root of what’s really going on. For challengers, it’s a great reminder that if you want better answers, you’ve got to start with better questions.
The Imagineering Way by The Disney Imagineers
One of the core tenets of challenger branding is fearlessness, and if there’s ever been a group that refused to let fear get in the way, it’s the Imagineering team from Disney. In this fantastic little book, the Imagineers describe themselves this way: “Fueled by a mixture of passion and curiosity, we’re not afraid to dive into the unknown and try something new and different because we faithfully follow the philosophies of our founder, Walt Disney, who said that ‘fear’ too often spells failure. Many people never allow their creative abilities to surface because they fear what might happen. They fear failure.” The same can be said for most brands. To challenge the status quo, to challenge the big dogs, underdogs have to find their creative voice and commit to what’s possible. That’s how E Ticket rides are made.
Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
Hands down the best book we’ve found to stimulate creative thinking. Brainstorms can be the most exciting part of our business, but they can also be a colossal waste of time. Michalko’s book offers 39 chapters full of techniques to make sure brainstorms are productive and fruitful. Some of the techniques are specific to what kinds of information you’re trying to deliver. Others are general enough to be used for anything. Like us, you’ll certainly find your favorites (check out “Lotus Blossom” on page 132), but what’s great, is there’s always a new way to come at the problem you’re trying to solve. This is a book EVERY agency person should have.
Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia
There is a movement afoot in American business based on the premise that companies can do well by also doing good. It’s called Conscious Capitalism and if you haven’t heard about it, you will. Like the movement, this book comes from John Mackey, the co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia, a marketing professor. Together, they founded Conscious Capitalism Inc. and with this book, are getting traction with companies both large and small. In a business landscape where, for decades, the sole focus of commerce has been on the shareholder, the idea that all the stakeholders in the process—employees, vendors, communities, customers and shareholders—all do better when their relationships are mutually beneficial is clearly challenger type thinking. By thinking differently and committing to what can be, you can effectively challenge centuries of convention and actually change the world.