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Many brands start in a garage, in someone’s mind or discussed over the kitchen table.  To break through, the new brands must use a rebel brand strategy that go against entire marketplace. Gradually, as the brand gains strength, it can move to an island brand that tries to separate consumers away from the main competitor. Then, as the brand gains a larger follower, it opens up the opportunity to use a challenger brand strategy and go head-to-head to take on the leader. And finally, if the brand does really well, it will reach the power player position, needing to defend the castle they worked hard to achieve

Strategic Thinking Competitive


Consumer Mindset Curve

In every category, there is a consumer mindset curve in relation to adopting innovation and new products. Consumers are divided into trend influencers, early adopters, early mass and then the mass audience. As consumers, we do show up differently to every category we might purchase. A trend influencer with technology products may be part of the mass audience with fashion. Brands have to identify and understand the various types of consumers they should be targeting.

Strategic Thinking Consumers

The trend influencer consumers are right at the beginning of the curve, looking for every new innovation in a category. They are in touch with experts and frustrated by the status quo brands. They love the leapfrog gains and they despise incremental movement by brands.

The early adopter consumers play the bridge role between the influencers and the mass market. They try to keep up, and enjoy being the first within their network to try the latest and greatest.

From there, the mass market consumers gets divided into early and late mass. The early mass take on new products while the overall mass is resistant to change.

How your brand strategy should evolve

The rebel brand stands out as a completely different and better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This group becomes the most motivated consumer base to buy into your new idea. You must bring them on board and use their influence to begin your journey.

At the rebel stage, you must take a high risk, high reward chance on who you will be. You should not worry about the mass audience, because most times, they will naturally resist brands that are very different as they do not yet see the problem. If you play it safe, it will lead to your own destruction. Your brand should naturally alienate those who are not yet ready to take on something new. Not only does a great brand say whom the brand should be for, it should equally say who it is not for. Be careful; do not try to be mass too soon or you will lose your base while also missing the mass audience.

As the brand gains power

As you transition to the island brand strategy, you must mobilize your audience of the early trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters into your franchise. While the rebel brand attracts the attention of trend influencers by alienating the major players in the category, the island brand tries to use their significant point of difference to pull consumers away from the leaders, making the leaders seem detached from the needs of the consumer.

As the brand gets bigger, it should take on the challenger strategy, using the influence of the trend influencers and early adopters to attract the mass audience. With a bigger consumer base, more power and financial resources, these brands have earned that has earned a hard-fought proximity that allows it to go head-to-head with the power player leader. The challenger brands turn the competitor’s strength into a weakness, pushing them outside of what consumers want, while creating a new consumer problem for which your brand becomes the solution.

At the Power Player stage, the strategy shifts to maintaining the growth. The focus becomes a defensive strategy to attack back at any player. While you may lose the early innovator type consumers that once loved your brand, you have to focus on the mass audience. While the trend influencers and early adopters play a huge role in making the brand a household name, as the brand gets bigger, they leave the brand and look for what is next.

How Apple evolved from an innovative rebel into the mass power player

Strategic Thinking Apple


Back in the 1980s, Apple was the rebel brand using the MacIntosh as the computer for the “rest of us”. They stayed a niche brand to with a simplicity message to those favoring the artistic side instead of the strictly functional PC.

Apple evolved in 2001 to an Island brand strategy, when iTunes disrupted the music industry. They gave consumers the ability to have 1,000 songs in your pocket, with perfect digital quality. And, they made CDs feel disconnected from consumers and CDs quickly became a thing of the past.

In 2006, Apple used their newly found power and heavy resources to use a Challenger strategy, using the “Mac versus PC” TV ads to go head-to-head with Microsoft. With a challenger stance, Apple repositioned every one the potential Microsoft strengths into a frustration point for consumers. This set up Mac as the only simple solution for consumers.

Since 2012, Apple has become the Power Player brand, with stock prices continuing to climb. They are now the brand for the masses. Apple now takes a fast-follower stance on every technology, which frustrates those who loved Mac in their early days. They also must attack themselves internally to stay at the top. Apple’s core audience may be frustrated by what they see. However, Apple must now play to the mass audience, and let the true trend influencers go find someone else to love.


Strategic Thinking Workshop

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Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

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Graham Robertson

Graham spent 20 years in Brand Management leading some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, General Mills and Coke, rising up to VP Marketing. In his career, he has won numerous Advertising, Innovation and Leadership awards. Graham played a major role in helping J&J win Marketing Magazine’s prestigious “Marketer of the Year” award. Graham brings a reputation for challenging brand leaders to think differently and to be more strategically focused. Graham founded Beloved Brands in 2010, to help brands find growth and make brand leaders smarter. He leads workshops to help define your Brand Positioning, build your brand’s Big Idea, and write strategic Brand Plans that motivate and focus everyone that works on the brand. Our Beloved Brands training programs will help your team, produce exceptionally smart work work that drives stronger brand growth and profits. We cover everything a brand leader needs to know including strategic thinking, planning, positioning, execution and analytics. Our robust client roster has included the NFL Players Association, Reebok, the NBA, Acura, Shell, Miller Lite, 3M, Jack Link’s and Pfizer. His weekly brand stories have generated over 5 million views.

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