Most of us in small business are looking up at a Goliath competitor. That big, dominant player that seems to effortlessly steal away our rightful market share, or keep us pent up as an ankle biter. Damn them.

The reasons they’re so dominant could be many:

  • They were the first
  • They listened to the wants and needs of the market and then addressed them better
  • They have better, differentiated products or services
  • They have a broader selection, better quality, better pricing, and/or better distribution
  • They have better customer service
  • They have a better warranty or guarantee
  • They spend more on marketing and are more aggressive and sophisticated
  • They have higher market awareness and preference
  • They have deeper pockets
  • They’re bigger
  • Their breath smells better . . . or many more reasons depending on your perspective

If you’re faced with this kind of competitive dominance, you are a “challenger” brand. Being a “challenger” suggests action. And, as a challenger brand, there’s plenty of opportunity for action on your part.

Keep this in mind as you plot your competitive course: as a challenger brand, what do you really have to lose by taking measured risks? The pressure’s on Goliath not to do anything that would jeopardize their market advantage, right?

So, what exactly do you do?

You may remember the classic challenger campaign waged years ago in the rental car market. The industry Goliath back then was Hertz. One ankle-biter challenger brand was Avis, and Avis set their sights on going toe-to-toe with the Hertz Goliath. Their branding campaign was simple: as the #2 player, we have to try harder to earn customers’ business. Avis committed themselves to offering the best cars, keeping them extra clean, ensuring the gas tank was full for pick up, and more. They also were able to promote their shorter lines — a result of being a less popular rental car brand. It was a simple yet brilliant campaign and it leveled the competitive battle field.

Like Avis, the key to successfully battling nose-to-nose with your Goliath lies in developing an effective brand identity platform that’s distinctive and authentic to your brand.

The process of developing this forces structured thinking about your brand strengths and weaknesses, and those of your Goliath. It results in the formation of uncompromising brand mission and values statements that fuel the right business attitude. It enables your defining a clear and laser-focused brand positioning platform where you tell customers why they should do business with you rather than Goliath. It details your brand value proposition, the multi-level benefits users of your product or service will derive. And it defines the standards of performance when delivering the various brand touch points.

Dell, Virgin, Southwest Airlines, Apple, Hyundai, any popular musician or group — they were/are challenger brands. And each found just the right stone to throw at just the right place to knock down their Goliath. It wasn’t luck, it was considered planning and effort fueled by a challenger mindset.

You can do this. And we at 34 North can help.