5 Challenger Brands Disrupting the Status Quo With Outside-the-Box Strategies

Challenger brands show us again and again that outside-the-box thinking can change the face of an industry. By continually asking, “Is there a better way?”, these brands seek to question the status quo and find new solutions for everyday consumer needs.

If you are a challenger brand, that is the goal — to use innovative strategies, authenticity, and a defined sense of purpose to bring a new vision for your industry, and, in many cases, for the way we live our day-to-day lives.

Consider these challenger brands — all of whom have successfully disrupted the status quo in their industries by bringing life to innovative ideas.

1. Airbnb

It used to be that hotels, motels, and traditional bed and breakfasts were our only options when traveling. Now, we have another option — Airbnb.

Airbnb has transformed the way we travel by offering more affordable accommodations for travelers and a chance to make some extra cash (or even start a side business) for homeowners. By bringing travelers and homeowners together into one place, Airbnb birthed a whole new way to find a place to stay when we’re on the road.

While many scoffed at the idea of staying in a stranger’s home when Airbnb first began, that sentiment has obviously shifted. Today, Airbnb earns more profits than many companies in the traditional hotel industry.

2. Tesla

Tesla and its electric cars need no introduction, having taken on Big Auto to revolutionize the electric car industry. In fact, Tesla has become the third-largest automotive brand in the world (just behind BMW and Mercedes), as well as the largest automotive brand by value, with about twice the value of Toyota.

And electric cars aren’t the only way Tesla is using the latest technology to challenge the status quo. They’ve also branched out into the world of solar energy, manufacturing solar panels for residential homes through their subsidiary, SolarCity. We haven’t forgotten the flamethrowers either. And if Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, excels at anything, it’s questioning the status quo and coming up with new ideas. We certainly haven’t heard the last from Tesla.

3. Quip

Dubbed the “Tesla of toothbrushes” by Bloomberg, Quip is changing the way we brush our teeth.

Offering simple, stylish electric toothbrushes through a direct-to-consumer subscription service, Quip is on a mission to make maintaining our oral health more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable. Replacement brush heads arrive every three months (at a cost of only $5 each), and contain the battery, which lasts for three months. You can also upgrade to a smart electric brush, which has Bluetooth capability and connects to an app where you can track your brushing habits and earn rewards.

This innovative company began with two execs working in a WeWork space and grew to 1 million electric toothbrushes sold and a signed deal with Target in their first three years. The electric toothbrush as a subscription service — that is a challenge to the status quo.

4. Duolingo

Duolingo has changed the way we learn languages. Through their app, Duolingo teaches language using games, quizzes, and practice lessons.

By gamifying the process of learning language, it makes learning fun and provides motivation to keep going. Travelers, linguaphiles, and even schools have taken to this new way of learning. In addition to the app itself, Duolingo offers free tools for teachers that enable them to use the app in the classroom to complement their existing language instruction.

5. Brandless

Despite the name, Brandless is definitely a brand…but one that is reimagining what it means to be a brand in today’s world. Brandless sells hundreds of different food, household, health, and beauty products…with a twist. Their mission is to offer high-quality products at fair prices by removing what they call the “brand tax” that traditionally inflates the prices of retail items. With simple packaging and relatively low prices, Brandless is changing the way we shop.

Brandless also works to build online community using their hashtag, #brandlesslife, and to give back through their Community Giving Program. This combination of high quality products, low prices, a thriving community, and generous giving has helped them become one of the fastest-growing omnichannel commerce platforms. Brandless as a brand. Brilliant.

How Is Your Brand Challenging the Status Quo?

These brands represent widely varied industries, but they all have one thing in common — they’ve each found a way to challenge the status quo and change the future of their respective industries. And they’ve all found success doing so.

If you’re a challenger brand struggling to gain momentum, think about how you can disrupt the current state of your industry. What pain point can you address to make big waves in your field? What new methods of communication can you use to get the word out about your brand?

At Miller Wittman, we help brands become more powerful. We can help you develop a strategy to stand out from the competition, grow your sales, and build your brand. If you’ve struggled to develop an effective strategy to get your ideas off the ground, we can help. Contact us to get started.

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