While brand giants are still comfortably dominating their markets, it’s becoming increasingly common for fast-moving challenger brands to threaten and encroach on the market shares of already established leaders.

The typical reaction from the de facto market leader is to quickly purchase said challenger brand or make an often delayed and unsuccessful attempt at creating their own version to win back lost ground.

But what is it in a challenger brand, and especially so within a successful challenger brand, that makes it more successful than others?

In our previous blog post, we introduced Brand Commerce, a new planning model based on heuristics – the mental shortcuts we all take when making decisions.

For the second part of our Econsultancy exclusive blog series, we dive into successful challenger brands and how they use heuristics, or sales triggers to win in their category.

The challenger brands

If asked to think of successful challenger brands, many in our industry might mention Under Armour or Tesla Motors as recent examples.

Under Armour is seen as challenger in an already saturated sector, successfully taking significant market share from both Nike and Adidas.

Tesla in turn is both changing the perception of electric cars and challenging an entire industry, with large manufacturers now playing catch-up.

When looking into both of these brands and their success, one of the things that sets them apart from the competition is they both have a clearly defined mission statement.

Putting it in Brand Commerce terms, they both understand what their key feature (their One Key Thing) is and allow it to permeate through their whole organisation.

This in turn allows them to provide consistent and relevant messaging in all of their marketing activities.

Tesla’s stated mission as a company is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”.

As part of its strategy, Tesla decided to remove the traditional middleman and instead focus on providing a great online retail experience.

Even when visiting one of its stores, Tesla provides a consistent experience by letting the customer place the order through the website.

Tesla Motors

Ultimately for many, owning a Tesla becomes a clear statement of one’s personal commitment to the environment.

Not only the brand but also its advocates are seen as leading the charge towards a more sustainable world.

Under Armour’s mission is to “make all athletes better through passion, design and the relentless pursuit of innovation.”

This mission has allowed Under Armour to branch out into the territory of tech companies such as Fitbit and Apple, providing its own ecosystem of digital fitness products.

While this could be seen as a gimmick, what makes this relevant to the brand is how it strengthens its claim of making all athletes better.

Looking at Under Armour’s sponsorship marketing, instead of going straight for the larger athletes, it has been signing up athletes before they become superstars while also creating marketing campaigns around athletes in secondary sports.

One example is the recent campaign ‘Rule Yourself’. While featuring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, it also includes the US Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team and young talent Memphis Depay from Manchester United.

Through this campaign Under Armour provides consistency by embracing its mission, to make all athletes better, not just the LeBron James’s of the world.

With so many industries being saturated with competitors, inconsistency is often enough of a reason for consumers to switch brands.

By ensuring that the whole organisation, from product design to marketing and sales, understands the mission, brands stand a better chance at providing a consistent message that resonates and feels natural to the consumers.

Are you making the most of your unique key feature and are you using it effectively to stand out from the competition?