Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan

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Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan

Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A bible for Challenger brands which shows not only what can be done, but how to do it. Highly recommended for all intent on breathing a new life into a tired brand, storming the battlements of a category with a new one or contemplating any kind of organisational change.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: March 2009
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
ISBN: 978-0470238271

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Big brands are even bigger than we think: the power of Market Leaders gives them not only the security of the sheer volume of sales but also better returns on any marketing spend. In the current market, with the trust in brands waning and people less and less interested in advertising, smaller fish need to swim more energetically just to survive healthily. And yet many brands achieve rapid growth despite smaller size and resources.

Morgan argues that if you are not the Big Fish, you can't be just a smaller version of them: the best approach for a Challenger is to clearly and consistently differentiate themselves from the Market Leader. Challenger brands need to redefine the rules of the game because they can't, realistically, tackle the Big Fish on their own ground, head-on.

Eating The Big Fish is a lucid, well organised and well executed analysis of successful Challenger strategies and provides an inspiring and practical programme for the budding Challengers to follow.

Morgan suggests learning from successful brands that are from category other than your own and – what's more important - shows how to generalise and transfer their experiences. Eating The Big Fish is uncommonly good at presenting clear and – most valuably – usable – advice. This advice is always fleshed out with concrete case studies, but never loses the importance of the general concept of the challenge.

Eating The Big Fish asks how can the success of a search engine help in selling cars? - and provides the most vivid answers.

The bulk of Eating The Big Fish is devoted to presenting The Eight Credos of Challenger brands, starting with the intelligent naivety of a fresh approach and proceeding to clear definition of core challenges. The list of possible challenges that a Challenger can make is one of the most inspiring and useful sections of the book.

Challengers need to define themselves clearly and take thought leadership of the category by questioning the basic assumptions about it: from the criteria of product choice to media of communications, from the way products are used to the values of wider culture, real differentiation (based on genuine insight and values) is the key to the Challenger's success.

As befits a book that deals with visionary branding, a lot of space is devoted to successfully creating the presence of the brand in the wider social culture, PR and news presence and arousing strong feelings in users. Despite this focus on communications, Morgan consistently stresses that being a Challenger brand is not just about communications – the image projected must be underpinned by something real, either a killer application, a new standard of user experience or redefinition of the meaning of the whole category. A Challenger brand must build what Morgan calls a Lighthouse Identity which will suffuse every aspect of the business, not just the image and communications.

The main content (and the spirit) of Eating The Big Fish is succinctly summarised in a table presenting 12 Challenger Stances and this list alone is worth the price of the purchase. There is also a ready-made schedule (including exercises) for a two day off-site and an outline for implementing the whole programme through four key 'agendas'. There are also suggestions for use of the Challenger approach by Market Leaders and ageing Challengers that have managed their initial challenge successfully.

Unlike many marketing manifestos, Eating The Big Fish is not drunk on its own hype and, as far as such a thing is possible in the world of branding, its delivery borders on the understated by industry standards. Yes, there is a generous sprinkling of marketing mystique, and Novelty Coinages and Creatively Funky Capitalised Terms crop up frequently, but the intended audience will be familiar and desensitised to all that. What's important is that there is real substance underneath the flourishes. Anybody who managed, even for a minute, to persuade this reviewer that calling your receptionist a Director of Smiles might be a good idea must be doing something right.

All those intent on breathing a new life into a tired brand, storming the battlements of the Market Leader with a new one or even contemplating any kind of organisational change will find Eating The Big Fish useful.

What makes Morgan's book indispensable is that it shows not only what can be done, but how to do it.

Highly recommended.

The review copy was sent to the Bookbag by the publisher - thank you!

Magda Healey spent eight years of her professional life working as a research executive and a team manager for a Polish market research agency for whom an instinctive Challenger stance was a second nature. She worked on numerous branding studies and several times saw for herself how attempts to imitate the Big Fish backfired for brands of various kinds (from margarine to political parties).

Buy Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan at Amazon.com.


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