How To Move From Challenger Brand To Household Name

Brands entering a cluttered industry, or a category where one or two brands control consumers’ headspace, often feel they have a daunting road ahead. Their questions include:

-- How can we capture consumer attention beyond shelf space? 

-- How do we compete with brands with 10x the budget expenditure? 

-- If I do manage to get consumers to try our brand, how do we keep them coming back?

While perhaps challenging, these brands also have an exciting opportunity to creatively outsmart the competition and gain market share by thinking like their consumers. By allowing their marketing dollars to work smarter, they can break through by showing themselves to high-consideration audiences when it matters most.

Use digital to inform traditional placements. Established brands with millions upon millions of dollars to support their marketing initiatives obviously have a lot of tactics available at their disposal, from Times Square billboards to Super Bowl commercials, YouTube homepage takeovers, etc.



However, most brands have to stretch much smaller budgets to make an impact on their business goals. For brands in this position, maximize marketing spend by leading with strategic digital marketing tactics rather than traditional mass-media placements. 


  • More concrete data that can be tied to online and offline consumer behavior
  • Audience learnings to understand who is most engaged
  • Greater budget fluidity to understand what works and what doesn’t (and turn tactics on and off when it makes sense)
  • Simplified creative testing

With these tactics, brands will be able to select more thoughtful traditional placements while understanding how and if mass media drives incremental benefits to the company’s bottom line.

Start with likely customers, then build broader awareness. Identify high-potential audience segments that are closer to consideration or conversion. This can be evaluated through:

  • Behaviors, current or past, such as purchase history or search retargeting
  • Geographic locations, such as in-store or walking near a place where the product or service is sold
  • People who act or look like your best customers, such as an AI Lookalike Model

Then speak to these individuals personally through customized creative messaging and imagery based on these cues.

It’s important not to forget about your existing customer base. Ensure the consumer experience is exceptional, reward them for their loyalty, and incentivize them to evangelize your brand. Cultivating a strong brand community and culture drives word-of-mouth referrals and builds reputation among niche audience groups.

Make your value proposition obvious -- or at least memorable. Showcase the unique ways your brand is going to add benefit to consumers’ lives.

Is it…

  • Cost/value?
  • Quality?
  • New feature?
  • Frictionless experience?

And then, use disruptive creatives that make it impossible for people to ignore.

  • Will your brand voice be sassy like Wendy’s?
  • Will your brand mascot have the recognition of the Geico gecko?
  • Will the [annoying] tune be unable to leave your head like the Skittles rabbit?
  • Will the story tug at your heartstrings like Budweiser’s?

Make the creative unforgettable through an unmatched communications and branding strategy, and you will be on your way to moving from the unknown to the household name.

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