So Barack Obama finally did it - clinched the
US presidential elections for the second time consecutively, after a sizzling
fight to the finish with strong contender Mitt Romney. The title was not easily
Brand Obama, after reigning at the helm for
four years, perhaps suffered from being perceived as complacent, a leader who
was criticised for not having ‘lived up to his promises’, an easy target for
those looking to further their own agenda. Or promise ‘something better’ to the
United States public. Mitt Romney, in that sense, stepped in less as a messiah,
and more as a challenger brand to Brand Obama.
In the branding world, the easiest gap for
a challenger to identify in a market leader involves the concept of
‘complacency’. And Mitt Romney may have
lost the elections, but he caught that gap, moved in for the kill, and if
nothing else, managed to shake things up for Brand Obama. That makes Romney a
challenger brand, or more precisely, a brand disruptor; one that makes the
leader realise he cannot take his position for granted, and that he needs to
fight to protect his turf. No brand gets to secure a safe seat, and that is a
realisation that Brand Obama had to deal with.
Brand disruptors exist in all shapes and
forms. Brand names like Ryanair, Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Blue, Method or Skoda
are known for disrupting market leaders in a bid to find their own sweet spot
with target groups. Even a market leader like Google turned challenger to
Facebook with its offering, Google Plus. The tablet category is full of
challenger brands targeting features straight out of Apple’s iPad.
Take a look at National Australia Bank
which publicly ‘broke up’ with the perception that it was just like its
competitors – interested only in making money than caring for its customers.
Examples don’t end there: New Zealand-based local craft brewery Tuatara took
advantage of the outcry of Rugby fans in the country who felt cheated by NZ
team sponsor Adidas offering jerseys at sky-high prices. Tuatara stepped in to
offer fans a cheaper alternative to the Adidas jersey with the line ‘Cheaper
jersey, more money for beer’, which helped the brand grow in popularity, and
cause Adidas to issue a public apology.
German airline Germanwings took disruption a step further when it had six of its executives board an Easyjet
flight, and in the middle of the journey, ‘flash’ a mockery of Easyjet’s
inability to provide allocated seats to passengers, promoting Germanwings’
similar facility, in the process. This was filmed and posted on YouTube.
Everyone loves a good underdog story – and ironically,
Brand Obama was exactly that when he first won the elections. It is when you
attain market leadership that the real story, the true test of one’s ability to
hold on to the top spot, begins.