Every Brand Has Become a Challenger — Are You up for the Challenge?


Throughout history, there have always been big dogs and underdogs, champions and challengers. For every Goliath, there has been a David. For every established mega-brand, there has been a startup.

With a global pandemic like none the world has seen since 1918, traditional designations for brands and businesses are set aside. In fact, these definitions have been blown to shreds, at least for now. COVID-19 has changed everything for marketers. We are all challengers to this new Goliath.  

According to a recent study by SUZY, consumers are being forced to try new brands regardless of past loyalties. For example, 61% have done so because supply chain disruptions have created massive out-of-stock issues. And 57% of those who tried a new brand report they are planning to stay with the new contender.

In addition to a more fluid brand loyalty, there is also a game-changing move from traditional purchase channels to online shopping, with some categories seeing 30%+ lifts on e-commerce platforms. These seismic shifts, born out of necessity, have affected certain categories more than others —  but, rest assured, none will be unscathed.

And many organizations were caught behind the curve on digital transformation strategies. Digital transformation is more than tools and technologies, and it is not merely the responsibility of the IT/technology team. It’s multidimensional and a team sport, driven through and across successful organizations.

It’s no longer a time for simply talking digital transformation. It is time for action. Your investors, employees, vendor partners — and, most importantly, your consumers — not only will expect it, but they will also demand it. Or they will go elsewhere.

Every brand needs to think differently, not just those classically defined as challenger brands. No one is secure in a position of “untouchable” market positioning. It’s not about size, but rather a mindset, an appetite for data-informed risk-taking, and a willingness to push past the status quo.

Brands that will suffer most, either becoming irrelevant or possibly disappearing altogether, are those that lose their edge. Instead, innovation must become a part of their DNA rather than an episodic interest that ebbs and flows. The goal will be to maximize their ability to adapt as markets and tastes change, sometimes in the relative blink of an eye (like now).

Whether you are a leading brand, a challenger brand, or a niche brand doesn’t matter. Every brand is facing a challenge like never before. Is your brand up for the challenge?

Are you surrounded by people who are street-smart, agile and willing to take a risk? Do you have an actionable and scalable digital transformation plan in place? Is innovation a systemic part of your organizational DNA, or not?

If the answer to any one of these questions is no, Goliath will never be slain. Let’s not let the bastard win!

About the Author

Jeff Maggs
Managing Director at Brunner

Jeff is the leader of the growing Atlanta office of Brunner, one of the nation’s leading independently-owned ad agencies.  Jeff is actively engaged in a variety of marketing and advertising industry organizations including the AMA and the 4A’s.  Also, serves as a board member on multiple non-profit organizations including the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation and the Atlanta Police Foundation Crime Stoppers. Participate in a variety of academic, community and government relations initiatives/associations in order to better connect Brunner with Atlanta and to give back to the community in a substantial way. Jeff is a leader of talent recruitment, staff retention and growth/development, focusing on making Brunner a destination of choice for top talent in a highly competitive environment. Jeff has a wife of 34 years Lois and four grown children.