Brands that chase their customers tend to do a lot of “that’s why” advertising that simply functions as a mirror to consumers’ lives. “We see what you’re going through, what you want, what your life is like… THAT’S WHY our product is the perfect solution.”
Challenger brands don’t do that. Instead, they understand with crystal clarity who they are for and who they are NOT for, and then they build a lighthouse identify around that truth that’s so pure and bright, consumers pay attention even when they’re not looking for it. People follow category leaders for all kinds of reasons. Ubiquity. Familiarity. Flat out market dominance. But for brands in second place on down, consumers are drawn to strong personalities confident in who they are and what they stand for. Do you know who you are and what your brand stands for? If not, it may be time to pause and figure that out.
4 Elements to build your lighthouse.
As the country’s leading challenger brand ad agency, we’ve spent 20 years helping underdogs build their lighthouse identity, grow their consumer base, sales, and profit, and win. We’ve worked beside brands in just about every category. But regardless of business type, every lighthouse identity has been built on the same four key elements.
1. Point of View
For successful challenger brands, the story is always about them. Challengers have a strong, distinctive – and here’s the key – unwavering point of view. They are who they are, and they dare, challenge, and invite you into connecting with them. But on their terms. What brands come to mind when you think of that kind of mindset? Red Bull? Apple? Whole Foods? Those brands are unapologetic. They blast their light through a prism of individuality, confidence, and exclusionary welcome. They’re not for everyone. But if you’re someone who aligns with who they are, you’re a customer for life.
Successful challenger brands are never weak. To paraphrase the great Tim Robbins from Bull Durham, one of our all-time favorites, challenger brands are always ready to “announce their presence with authority.” The whole point of having a strong point of view is to drive emotion and intensity which strengthens the connection consumers feel with the brand. What is it about your brand that’s intense enough to drive an emotional connection with your customers? Relationships are built on emotional connection. The more of those connections you share with your customers, the stronger your relationship will be.
By its nature, your lighthouse identity has to be highly salient. In other words, your light must be bright enough to be highly intrusive. Bright enough to shine where even those who aren’t looking for it will see it anyway. Think about brands you know well that you’ve never actively looked for. Tesla. Jet Blue. Mountain Dew. GEICO. Burger King. What is it about these brands that shines so brightly they can’t be ignored?