Disruptive Branding: The X-Ray View

in Branding Strategy & Trends | by Admin

Let’s start with one key characteristic that makes a brand disruptive: “BE FIRST!” The brand needs to “be first” in three ways. First, it’s important that, whatever centralities the brand is providing- product, service, emotion- have never before been experienced by the consumers. Being a leader makes the brand admirable standing out far more than any “follower.”

What makes being first so magical in the disruptive brand composition? Risk. A brand that takes a risk makes consumers feel that the brand has exposed themselves in order to impress and win the love of the consumer. This dedication and vulnerability makes consumers relate to the brand. After the first big risk, the brand is inflated with consumer support, and can then work to achieve the next step: STAY FIRST! Winning in the market is the groundwork that gives the disruptive brand a fighting chance in the vicious market place. Then, the brand needs to must maintain that lead.


To cap off this blog series, I wanted to give you some case study evaluations… some X-ray views that point out the core elements- the back-bones, if you will- that fuel disruptive branding champions. If you’ve been keeping up with these posts, I’d say you’re qualified to take a look. What do you think, Doctor?:

TOMS=Emotion+Strategy+Consistency+Authenticity+Storytelling+Unique+Be first!=Disruptive!

Offering so much more than a pair of shoes, the “one-for-one” campaign clearly plays upon emotional chords. Not to mention the consistency and authenticity that comes with the fact that the CEO travels so often- immersed in his mission and constantly generating new ideas. TOMS’ storytelling unites all of their elements- consumers see the enactment of the one-for-one promise, making them feel attachment and that their shoe-purchase made an immediate difference. Not only has the emotion turned into a trendy fashion-statement– a down-to-earth appearance that is in lines up with the “save the world” sentiment- TOMS was the first, and has maintained that outstanding brand leadership.

Apple=Emotion+Quality+Strategy+Consistency+Unique+Be first!=Disruptive!

Apple was absolutely first with their iPhone, and to make the sleek, sexy, virus-free Mac. And they have stayed strides ahead as the notable “Once you go Mac, you never go back” quality providers. Apple is consistent with its ever-improving, genuinely high-quality machines that consumers simply fall in love with. In fact… I have never heard anyone say anything bad about their iPhone. Why? There is such careful attention put into developing the absolute best product that consumers could dream of… quite a strategy. That core strategy is then complemented by kindling a relationship with Apple users- customer service, ever-improving products, and a feeling of connection with the genius behind what makes your life better. In addition to being a fashion statement, a product that people LOVE, and seemingly the definition of technology, Apple has a story… they were almost bankrupt at one point, but took a risk to stay in the game. Good choice.

IKEA= Emotion+Strategy+Unique+Be first!=Disruptive!

IKEA gives furniture a personality- and shows the infinite product combinations; this lets you find furniture personality that fits your personality. While IKEA may not provide top-tier warranties, or even delivery/assembly services, they’ve made a booming place for themselves in the furniture industry. Everyone knows and embraces their presence. They’re huge, and deservingly so. IKEA leads the furniture market as a low-price, variety-providing home décor company. Aside from trendy, attractive home products, there is much more that sustains IKEA’s consumer base… You can find furniture and home essentials elsewhere… but IKEA brings everything that you could imagine together under one roof. It’s a one-stop-shop: you can buy silverware in the same place you buy your bookshelf; a baby mobile and dorm room organizers; a fruit bowl and a light fixture. And there’s more… IKEA tops off its distinction by offering services that no other furniture or department store can boast. Can you drop the kids off at the in-store daycare while you shop, and then pick them up for a lunch at the Swedish-meatball-snack bar at other furniture stores? Can you see how your sought-after kitchen table would look in both, a modern or an old-world modeled kitchen? IKEA’s open, bright atmosphere that showcases its array of products is more than just a mega furniture store. The all-encompassing nature gives it an enjoyable emotional appeal; when people shop at IKEA, they get their home needs, and the experience.

Pinkberry= Emotion+Strategy+Unique+Be first!=Disruptive!

Pinkberry is another disruption exemplary. The idea- delicious simplicity- has spread and become a fashion craze. The CEO admired Apple’s style of branding, and took the risk- Santosa simply dropped work for a week to prepare and present the branding pitch- only to uncover great success. Embracing minimalism and plastic chairs, complemented by out-of-ordinary frozen yogurt toppings, going to get frozen yogurt is fun and trendy. Pinkberry is perfectly exploiting an entirely new, profitable, stylish niche in the “going-out-to-get-desert” market.

Redbull= Emotion+Quality+Strategy+Consistency+Storytelling=Disruptive!

Red Bull sells one basic product. What fuels such massive profits? Their target audience was young people- so they took the inside approach to establishing the brand. Red Bull found well-connected  (“cool”) college kids, and gave them a supply of the energy drink. An interesting platform… risky, but effective! The result: college kids (a fast-paced word-of-mouth vehicle) endorsing their product. This free-samples task force, mixed with the energy drink’s association with extreme sports is Red Bull’s simple, well-articulated, consistent, appealing, stimulating, original and invigorating strategy to build a distinct brand identity.

ZipCar= Strategy+Consistency+Unique+Be first!=Disruptive!

ZipCar lets travelers make an account, then hop into a ZipCar when they need vehicular transportation, and leave it where ever is convenient for them (in a legal parking space, of course). This is the ideal alternative to the commitment of a rental car; with ZipCar, you can have a car at your disposal without any hassle. Unique? Yes. The culmination of a “be first” strategy? Yes. Built-in advertisting? Yes!

Starbucks= Emotion+Quality+Strategy+Storytelling+Be first!=Disruptive!

Starbucks is undoubtedly the best-known coffee brand. And what makes them so? A long list… Starbucks gives your coffee a personal aspect (get any flavor- in a cup with your name on it!), and going to Starbucks is an experience: it is about reading the cultural, simple, yet diverse, marquees, then absorbing the sentiment of sitting in the coffee shop. Their drinks are delicious… and trendy to carry a Starbucks cup. Ultimately, Starbucks transformed a commodity into fashion statement.