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Is it time for your business to challenge industry norms?

Taking on the status quo can feel like a high-risk communications strategy. However, challenging industry norms has helped a range of brands succeed in the modern marketing landscape.

New technologies, greater media segmentation and increasing customer demands all threaten brand success. In this constantly shifting context, flying in the face of expectations and creating a disruptive, unconventional marketing strategy has helped businesses attract their target audience’s attention.

So, is challenging industry norms with your brand the new strategy you need to take? This article will weigh up the pros and cons and give examples of how businesses have benefited from defying conventions and expectations.

 

Is challenging industry norms a good branding strategy?

The dynamism of the modern marketing landscape has left many businesses feeling uncertain. LinkedIn’s global survey of B2B marketers found that a third were thinking of cutting their branding spend in the first six months of 2023. Similarly, only 56% of UK-based marketers said they were confident about their strategy.

However, the same proportion of global respondents agreed creativity would be essential in overcoming these challenging circumstances. For some brands, this may mean breaking free from consumer expectations of their business. Yet it’s important any strategic approach businesses take, whether it’s boundary-breaking or not, draws in audiences by:

– Building trust, which is an important purchase decision factor for 81% of customers

– Showing authenticity, a quality that 86% of consumers said they wanted brands they buy from to have

– Telling a brand story, particularly in ads, where 92% customers want to see a narrative

– Connecting to an audience’s values, something which would make 84% of them more likely to buy

– Increasing recognition, with 89% of social media users purchasing from brands they know and follow

For some brands, challenging industry norms helps them to meet all the above requirements and engage with target audiences more effectively. By disrupting the market in a way that genuinely aligns with their business and its purpose, brands can start to build a recognisable story that customers connect with.

 

How can brands challenge the norm effectively?

More than just spotting an untapped niche, developing an innovative product or reinventing their customer service. Brands that challenge the norm have to transform the way they communicate and present themselves. Here’s how some have done so successfully.

 

Fairer, fluffier insurance

The cultures, languages, professions and backgrounds of the one million people who move to make a new start in the UK each year vary hugely. However, they all have the same problem, finding the right insurance at a reasonable price.

New provider Marshmallow has entered the market to meet the specific needs of these customers. Their ‘newcomer’ look and tone of voice have been key to setting their brand position and generating recognition. Marshmallow has disrupted the cold, corporate branding of the traditional insurance market with warmth and accessibility.

 

 

 

Key to their look is Marshall the mascot, a colourful, emoji-style character whose boldness and friendliness are appealing and recognisable to a variety of nationalities and age groups. It can also be reinvented into a range of characters, lending a quirkiness to the brand which stands out from the straighter approaches of other insurers.

 

 

Similarly, the typeface and tone of voice are designed to be empathetic and easy to understand. This helps to break down the jargon of insurance buying, even for those whose first language isn’t English or whose background is usually penalised by traditional insurers.

 

 

Real meat, redefined

Led by their pioneering product, Meatable is shaking up the discussion around sustainable diets. Run by passionate meat-eaters, their branding emphasises clear communications and an authentic, fresh look that builds consumers’ trust in their scientifically-grown meat product.

Their messaging focuses both on delivering the facts and establishing their ethical position. Their story clearly sets out their product’s origins, development and benefits. By using short statements and well-cited facts, the brand makes an argument for how its product can transform meat-eating to be more sustainable and efficient.

 

 

 

Similarly, the imagery and branding are warm, fresh and inspiring. From sunlit portraits of their employees to stunning landscapes and friendly illustrations of sheep, pigs and cows. The look and feel of their visuals are natural, bright and optimistic. This changes the dynamic of the conversation around diet from guilt-tripping meat-eaters to focusing on the positives and potential of eating differently.

 

 

Changing the tone of travel.

The customisation of experiences and products has a big appeal for younger audiences. Despite this, travel agents First Choice struggled to communicate their key selling point – that they can create a holiday to each customer’s specifications. Their recent rebrand has shaken up their offering and encourages their customers to be ‘proudly picky’.

 

 

 

Rather than unattainable and luxurious Instagram-worthy imagery, the visual style emphasises the flexibility and accessibility of First Choice’s service. Playful iconography outlines the different options they offer. Imagery that’s both aspirational and realistic emphasises the experience of the holidaymaker. Bold, tropical colours and a slightly wonky typeface create a playful authenticity that’s particularly attractive to younger demographics.

 

 

 

Rather than unattainable and luxurious Instagram-worthy imagery, the visual style emphasises the flexibility and accessibility of First Choice’s service. Playful iconography outlines the different options they offer. Imagery that’s both aspirational and realistic emphasises the experience of the holidaymaker. Bold, tropical colours and a slightly wonky typeface create a playful authenticity that’s particularly attractive to younger demographics.

 

Moderation, but cooler.

How do you create a beer that’s both pioneering and full of brewing history? That’s the balance Lucky Saint is trying to strike. Just like its product, its branding straddles the traditions of drinking beer and the heritage of making ale alongside modern preferences for moderation and low-alcohol options.

Summed up in one of its taglines ‘Heritage Brewing, Modern Drinking’, the brand’s tone of voice plays with religious vocabulary and clearly explains brewing terminology. Their visual identity does the same by reinventing ecclesiastical tropes and icons. Like their recent advertising campaign, which showed marble-like hands holding their beer in da Vinci-esc style.

 

 

 

 

Their story also emphasises how their brewing process has benefited from the heritage of beer making while also being thoroughly modern. Just like their visual identity, which is equally as authentic and crisp in its approach. This allows them to cut a new niche in the beer world that is fresh and new without completely rejecting brewing heritage.

 

Brand challengers, ready?

If you’re looking to reinvent or establish your brand, you need to make sure your strategy reflects the way you do business. For making a splash in an established market, looking to attract a new audience demographic or launching a new niche product, taking a ‘challenger’ style approach is a good option. That is, as long as you do it in a way that’s authentic to your business and its values.

A good example of a client that our team worked with to challenge their industry norm was the leadership and coaching business, &Evolve. With a highly reputable stature, the owner embraced the brave decision to rebrand the business. Our team guided the rebrand, stepping the clients thoughts outside of the box and standing the business up in the crowd with an unconventional – forward-facing – brand rename and identity design. Check out what we did by clicking here

Or, if you want to learn more about our Branding / Rebranding process, click here

We can help you take the leap, break boundaries and challenge norms effectively. To find out how call us on 01926 754038 or, drop us an email at hello@designmc.org to arrange an informal chat.

LET’S TALK

Looking to realign, refresh or redevelop your brand or business marketing strategy? Send us an email at hello@designmc.org or, give us a call direct on 01926 754038 for an informal chat.

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