Challenger Brand

Every category has a leader. A bellwether brand whose success over time has earned it a unique standing in the minds of consumers and has effectively created the marketing conventions of the category.

Those are not our clients.

Every category has followers. Brands who, despite fewer resources and smaller budgets, attempt to compete with the category leader by emulating it.

Those are not our clients, either.

Our clients are the number twos and threes (and the new and unknown) who are taking share from the category leader by not playing by its rules. They are Challenger Brands, committed to the idea that thought leadership will ultimately achieve sales leadership. For thirty years, GKV has helped Challenger Brands succeed by facilitating four key brand behaviors.

Challenger Brands


Symbols Of Reevaluation

The biggest enemy of success in the marketplace is not consumer rejection; it’s consumer indifference. They don’t necessarily dislike your company; they just don’t care about what you’re saying. Challenger brands want to disrupt the autopilot relationship they may have with the consumer by making visible changes, creating what we call symbols of reevaluation. Maybe a new product or a new logo or a new pricing strategy. Usually, it’s a visible change to the advertising. Whatever the symbols of reevaluation are, the intent is to announce to the consumer that it’s no longer business as usual.



This is not about making ill-advised media decisions; it’s about focusing on a powerful primary message. There are so many stories that a brand could tell about itself, but the strongest brands are usually very single-minded and are willing to sacrifice some secondary messages.


Emotional Connections

Category leaders generally create the expectations of the category with rational benefits…we’re the biggest, we’re the cheapest, we’re the most convenient, etc. So, that territory is taken. Challenger brands need to be thought leaders. They need to create an emotionally-based rather than a rationally-based relationship with the consumer.


Brand Inside

There is considerable research indicating that a huge competitive advantage is gained when a company’s culture is visibly aligned with its brand promise. Think about the atmosphere of innovation and forward thinking that you feel in an Apple store. Think about the great customer service and spirit of fun that characterizes your experience on Southwest. In both cases, the culture matches up perfectly with the communications. Unfortunately, this alignment doesn’t occur as often as it should. So, we help challengers live their brand inside by introducing brand-specific goals, policy and training to all employees, which will help them truly understand how the company’s core values translate into specific actions.

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