Want to build a challenger brand? Start with your values.

August 8, 2014 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

We all have something we stand for—something we believe in, something we strive toward. And we tend to seek out and build relationships with like-minded people for spouses, friends, and employers who share our similar values.

Like people, brands have values. As it turns out, people also seek out like-minded brands. According to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, shared values are the strongest drivers for brand relationships. Of the consumers who said they have a brand relationship, 64 percent cited shared values as the primary reason.

This is good news for challenger brands. Because often challengers don’t have the pockets to be constantly demanding consumer attention. And no, thousands of e-blasts won’t result in lasting connections. Per HBR’s study, only 13 percent of consumers credit frequent interactions with a brand as the reason for having a relationship.

LOOMIS Imagibrand Process

People are emotional beings, and most purchase decisions are based on emotion. For brands to matter, they must bring more to the table. They must have a demonstrable purpose that defines their brand and feels authentic to the consumer.

Sometimes it can be as simple, or as difficult, as doing the right thing. Southwest has long challenged the commercial air space with its commitment to providing unwavering friendly, reliable, and low-cost travel. Dove, with its Campaign for Real Beauty (aka, every challenger brand marketer’s campaign crush), has turned the category on its head, connecting with consumers on a deeper level by addressing issues of appearance, insecurity, and self-esteem.

Success as a challenger comes through developing a clear sense of who you are as a brand and why. Why does your brand exist? And why should anyone care? Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept is a brilliant (and beautifully simple) representation of this. Watch the TED Talk clip here. “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it,” Sinek explains.

Here are few key steps to begin paving the way for relationship building:

  1. Determine the key idea that reveals your brand’s purpose and use it todifferentiate the brand in its category.
  2. Clearly articulate your brand’s purpose both externally to new and prospective customers and internally to employees.
  3. Relay that purpose into marketing concepts that deliver against the consumers’ impression.

Your values should represent your brand—never amend them to align with consumers. As Sinek says, “The goal is not to just sell to people who need what you have—the goal is to do business with people who believe in what you believe.”

But most importantly, live it.  Trust is what builds and binds all relationships.

Marissa Stabler is a Brand Manager at The Loomis Agency, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency

challenger brand

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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