Beating Goliath: How Challenger Brands Can Win

Why "we're just as good as the big guys" isn't a viable value proposition.
pawn in front of a knocked over king chess piece

Often, when mid-size companies compete with their industry’s larger, global power players, they overcompensate by highlighting the ways in which their offerings are just as broad and deep as their multi-national competitors’. As a result, these companies – the challenger brands – often get lost in the shadows of the behemoths because they can never truly compete with their breadth, depth and reach. And trying to claim that “we’re just as good as the big guys” without credible proof points risks sounding defensive and inauthentic. Mid-size companies are better off determining what the big competitors in their industry don’t have, or what they are not, in order to identify their own differentiated value proposition.

We recently came across a company facing this David vs. Goliath brand challenge. They were a mid-size firm that straddled management consulting and technology, and they had fallen into the trap of trying to compete with the global players in both industries on the depth and breadth of their offering. In fact, what made this firm unique was its complete focus and expertise in one area within the very broad category – the intersection of HR and technology. What the firm really needed to do was define its value proposition in a way that helped prospects understand the benefits of the company’s focused offering.

This is where branding can play a pivotal role. Firms that are able to build a compelling position around what makes them unique – and better – have a solid advantage over any competitor. Finding this position begins with research, which uncovers key insights (from both internal and external audiences) on what your firm offers that other, larger firms do not. Capturing these qualities in a brand position allows mid-size firms to set themselves apart by being the go-to player for a differentiated solution—a solution that other firms, no matter how large, diversified or global, simply don’t offer.

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