Brand Marketing Cases, Insights, News & More!

Relating Challenger Archetypes to Communication Strategies

Overwrite 1There’s always a little rebel in all of us at one point or another whether it is rooting for the underdog or even going off the beaten track. And with more and more brands coming in the market, the point of differentiation becomes the first hurdle for latecomers with no first mover advantage.

Who doesn’t remember the AVIS campaign “We Try Harder” which started in the 60’s?

Gone were the days where being the biggest or market leader were automatically perceived as the best as slowly but surely challenger brands were building the perception that big also means clumsy, bureaucratic and uncaring.

PHD recently launched our latest book in the market, Overthrow which examines challenger archetypes in this millennium market dynamics and the communication strategies that serves the different archetypes.

As the complexities of market dynamics evolve, there are no longer just the 2 main challenger archetypes where a small(er) player generally throws the gauntlet at Goliath’s face or even a James Dean pulling the rebel without a cause.

Anyone interested in challengers is interested in compression; how do you make a story utterly compelling in a very short space of time? And one of the reasons that the concept of the “challenger brand” has caught on is that it itself does just that; within just 2 words you surely have all the ingredients of an engaging story – conflict, a protagonist and an adversary, an anticipation of a future event whose outcome is uncertain, the new order of looking to overthrow the establishment.  It’s all there.

Except that it isn’t. Not really. Because for all that people talk about challenger brands more than they ever did, all too often it is a clichéd and superficial view that persists in what that challenger narrative actually is: either “little brand explicitly calling out big brand” (as Avis above) or “turn every category rule on its head” (think Red Bull).

But the time has come for a new set of challenger brands;  from a narrow band of only 2 challenger approaches we now have a wide spectrum of this new breed of challengers with distinct characteristics that defined their success.

While Overthrow is a global initiative from PHD Worldwide, the overall concepts of different breeds of challengers are universal be it from America to Zimbabwe.

The 10 Archetypes of Challenger Brands

Here we have summarized what the 10 Archetypes of Challenger brands, on the middle column is what it means as a brand and on the right is what is means as an individual. Can you see yourself as one of these challengers?

Overwrite 3

Overwrite 4

Overwrite 5

Overwrite 6

Overwrite 7

Overwrite 8

Overwrite 9

Overwrite 10

Overwrite 11

Overwrite 12

This chart from Overthrow depicts the different archetypes of challenger brands in Europe. Can you think of it’s local equivalents based on the descriptions above?

Overwrite 13

Marketers and agencies are invited to use the model as a practical framework for those that want or need to challenge something about their category to succeed.  Whether entering a crowded category or maintaining challenger momentum once it starts to fade, the book looks at how leaders, teams and brands can structure their communication approaches in a way that drives breakthrough.

‘Overthrow: 10 Ways to Tell a Challenger Story’ is available on Amazon for £15.99, with all profits going to UNICEF.