Management & Strategy

Sharpen your teeth

In his classic business title, ‘Eating the Big Fish’, Adam Morgan reveals how challenger brand strategies can be used to strengthen any business.

In his classic business title, ‘Eating the Big Fish’, Adam Morgan reveals how challenger brand strategies can be used to strengthen any business.

In the book, Morgan outlines the eight credos, which underpin a challenger approach:

  1. Break with the immediate past 
  2. Build a lighthouse entity
  3. Assume thought leadership
  4. Create symbols of re-evaluation
  5. Sacrifice
  6. Over commit
  7. Use advertising and publicity as a high-leverage asset
  8. Become ideas-centred rather than consumer-centred

Morgan suggests that challenger brands think in terms of an ambush – attacking whenever and wherever least expected. A challenger brand thrives when underestimated or ignored. On the other hand, Big Fish know they are Big Fish, so can become complacent, and therefore vulnerable. Challenger brands also establish, then nourish, an emotional rather than a rational relationship with consumers, with sustainable customer loyalty the primary objective.

Morgan writes: “Challenger brands are not unusual in that they have a monopoly on good ideas; they are unusual in that they make good ideas happen.

“Challengers need their own models of strategy and behaviour… we are entirely unlike the brand leader in position and resource and, consequently, need to find an entirely different set of rules of engagement."

Everything begins with an attitude, he concludes. “Never give up. Never lose the will to win. Always be willing to take risks.” The book also includes inspirational copy from Apple’s first television advertisement after Steve Jobs returned to the company: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK