A Challenger Brand
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  • 29 Nov 2018

New Zealand as a country is a Challenger brand. For a small country on the bottom of the world, we punch well above our weight competing successfully against nations much bigger than us in agriculture, food & beverage, tourism, fashion, manufacturing, technology, sport and many other sectors.

Being a Challenger is about a mindset; it has ambitions bigger than its resources and a belief that they can win. A Challenger doesn’t try to outspend but instead they try to outsmart.

Often in business we want to emulate ‘best practice’, to find out what the best in our category do and copy that. However, to a Challenger Brand best practice becomes status quo. And a Challenger doesn’t want to do what everyone else is doing, instead it does things differently, it challenges that status quo, acting with urgency, prepared to fail and to try again.

Many original Challenger brands are now leaders in their categories – think Netflix, Uber and Spotify; they didn’t start out as the market leaders but instead challenged the big guys by doing things differently.

And here’s where we come in. It’s all very well to want to be a Challenger but your team need to be able to demonstrate the behaviours of a Challenger. They need to first understand what these behaviours are and then build both the competence and confidence in applying those new behaviours back at work.

One of my favourite projects this year has been partnering with a wholesaler client who operates a large branch network throughout New Zealand.  A distant second in their market, they want to become number one, to challenge the top position of their category.

We’ve created a customised programme which draws on some core IP and almost 50 years of experience, and which responds to the challenges and opportunities in the current environment. We’ve helped the team develop new skills in leadership, in personal effectiveness, communication and sales. We’ve enabled a team of internal champions to help live the Challenger attitude when we’re not in their business by developing their coaching and leadership skills.

Already we’re seeing increased revenue, improved engagement levels within the team and an overall desire and hunger to win.

For me being a Challenger is a story of hope. It shows that the biggest guy isn’t always the winner and that money doesn’t always buy success. Instead that success comes from understanding what your customer wants and having a team of people with the attitude and commitment to deliver on it.

NB: The idea of the Challenger Brand started in the late 90s – you can read more about it here.