Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Underdog Brands

with one comment

People are naturally attracted to the underdog. The story of the little guy that beat the odds gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. In a brand context, this is no different. A brand that is well positioned as the underdog can use this as a powerful marketing tool to gain consumer loyalty.

Here are a few quick examples:

  • Pepsi is the underdog to Coke and used this to effectively capture the youth market
  • Adidas is the underdog to Nike and has grown their brand considerably in the past decade
  • Apple is the underdog to Microsoft/Nokia/HP (and more) and has become one of the most powerful brands on the planet

What do all of these brands have in common?

A key part of playing the underdog role is a sense of irreverence towards the bigger guys. Don’t try to copy what your competitors are doing, find an exciting, scrappy way to win then flaunt it as much as possible.

Second, if you look at the above list of underdogs, they are all seen as cool and rebellious. There is a social status aspect for consumers who buy and use these brands.

Finally, all of the underdog brands promote emotional benefits, not functional ones. This allows them to develop consumers that are much more loyal to their brand. People feel very strongly about supporting the underdog and are going to try to convince others to do so as well – even once the ‘little guy’ has become a behemoth, as with all of the above examples.

What do you think? What other brands play the role of the underdog?

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Written by benwisebranding

April 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

One Response

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  1. If you want to learn more about Challenger brands, go to http://www.eatbigfish.com, and visit the Challenger project.

    Chad

    April 29, 2010 at 10:35 am


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