Challenger Brands: What it Really Means to Stand Out

The summer blockbuster season is upon us and Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 movie tells another tale of distrusted superheroes forced to live full-time lives of normalcy. Capes, masks, and heroics are still replaced with commuting, homemaking, and monotonous desk jobs as our key protagonists, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, set out to prove that their extraordinary abilities make them much more than faces in the crowd.

If you’re responsible for leading the marketing/advertising charge for a challenger brand, you may recognize the heroes’ situation. Challenger brands share their ambition: in their own quest to stand out, they’re hungry to convey what’s authentically special about their product or service.

But knowing what sets you apart and making people notice, believe in, and respond to those special traits are very different things.

“Challenger brands generally know they must reach the world differently, and that’s a good start,” says Jacqueline Lieberman, Chief Strategy Officer at Story Worldwide. “But most are stuck there. In their efforts to convey uniqueness, they may be trying out innovative campaigns to get people’s attention, but so is everyone else, which just leads to continual sameness. Today’s challenge is to find your unique brand story and then make it contextual to people’s lives.”

In other words, it’s not enough to be seen as different; your story needs to actually matter to people on a personal level, to have a natural, welcome place within their personal joys, aspirations, interests, and escapes.

A tall order? Absolutely. But it’s necessary in a world where your brand message competes with a sea of movie trailers, playlists, and social feeds, as well as the buzz of traditional ads that we’ve all learned to tune out). And then there’s the rise of copycat brands attempting to confuse target consumers: fashion, hygiene, food, and beverage brands have been dealing with this phenomenon for years, while innovator brands (think Uber) and rapid-rise challengers (like Casper mattresses) are also finding themselves especially susceptible.

But here’s the good news: beating the noise by differentiating and contextualizing is completely accomplishable. The first step is to uncover what makes your brand story unique and then articulate it in-market.

Your distinct story serves as the foundation for all campaigns, so there’s no need to keep redefining your brand with each initiative. After all, if your creative teams can’t consistently—or accurately—convey what makes your brand story different from your competitors’, it’s going to tough to stand out, let alone matter to people  

At Story, we help challenger brands reach this place through a systematic process where we find, test, and define a brand story. Quickly.

We start with fast immersion and stakeholder interviews to dig into the brand DNA to uncover a distinct and modern story to inspire audiences. The brand story we uncover serves as the basis to inspire and connect all future communications. Nailing that connective thread seems to be the biggest marketing challenge brands face.  

From there, we quantify your brand story’s competitive advantage with our methodology called StoryScore—think of this as a way to test that your brand story is the right one to set you apart and create an impact in-market. Once this is confirmed, we’ll help you and your creative teams devise campaigns that vividly convey your differentiation in meaningful, valuable ways.


B2B mobile buyer behaviour research

Statistics exploding the myths that mobile marketing is less important in B2B sectors

We have documented the ongoing growth of mobile adoption in our mobile statistics compilation. Yet most of our stats are based on consumer surveys and panels. It’s rare for B2B specific data to be shown. Given this lack of insight, most businesses will turn to their analytics to assess the importance of visitors from smartphones.

Looking at our own analytics, for Smart Insights it seems that mobile visits are relatively unimportant, with smartphones currently accounting for 19% of visitors, with an increase of around 8% increase year-on-year. Yet, one-fifth of all visits IS significant, especially since as you see with B2C organizations, our conversion rates are lower on smartphones, so lead generation is challenging on mobile.

The Boston Consulting Group research on mobile use in B2B

Given the lack of research on B2B mobile adoption, it was interesting to see this report looking at both business and end-user adoption, although it’s frustrating that the sample for B2B buyers wasn’t given in terms of size or sector.

BCG’s research found that 80% of B2B buyers are using mobile at work, and more than 60% report that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase. Moreover, some 70% of B2B buyers increased mobile usage significantly over the past two to three years, and 60% expect to continue to increase their mobile usage.

The report also dispels the myths of mobile usage in B2B showing that smartphones are increasingly used ‘across the board’ and do influence sales of large purchases at different seniority levels.

The report also notes that at the same time, B2B online queries are shifting rapidly from the desktop and ­laptop to the smartphone. Google has found that about 50% of B2B queries today are made on smartphones. BCG expects that figure to grow to 70% by 2020.

The research shows that amongst what they call ‘mobile leaders’ there are some significant shares, nearing 50% of queries, traffic and leads.

I think using the pejorative laggard here is wrong since the relative percentage of smartphone use will depend on the audience and whether the company has a transactional e-commerce site. For those B2B businesses that are transactional and have an audience which makes more use of mobile, then it’s inevitable that queries and conversions will be higher.

The report also shows other benefits of mobile though, suggesting a higher lead to purchase velocity and the prospect of improved loyalty if a superior mobile experience is delivered.

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