Transform Magazine: What to do when you win? – 2023

Lobber Levin, senior strategy writer at Scandinavian consumer brand agency Everland, explains the power of being a rebellious brand and the pitfalls to avoid once you’ve succeeded in your mission.

Are you a rebel brand? Do you want to fight for change, inclusion and the greater good? As a startup, this is often the ideal role to take on, tackling taboos or bringing new ideas to the table.

Positioning yourself as a rebel helps you define your message and target audience. It becomes easier to stir up emotions, bring people together around your cause, and engage them when you have a common “enemy” or mission. It is effective branding and works well for community development as it creates unison and common ground.

Now you are gaining ground. People rally around your post and you’ve built a loyal following. Then one of two things happens: either a bigger company comes in and overtakes the market, or you succeed in your mission?

If you succeed in your cause, now what? You have gone from challenger brand to market leader. This is a problem that many rebellious brands face. Building your business and brand around a niche issue can be a great start, but it’s a short-sighted solution.

A rebel without a cause

Before you can successfully complete your rebel mission, you need to review your brand’s purpose. You should think of yourself as a market developer rather than a challenger. What is your reason for existing in the long term? This requires a deeper understanding of the context of your brand and your business efforts.

Your brand constantly interacts and is affected by culture, consumers, category, and even your own business as it inevitably evolves. As your context changes, your brand must respond to thrive or even stay alive. Unfortunately, many brands forget to keep their finger on the pulse once they’ve settled into a culture and category. They are too slow to review their relevance after three-five-10 years.

Ironically, the attitude that made them popular is now the same one that inhibits future growth. Times are changing, and they are changing faster than ever! Kodaks of our time will be plentiful and far more common as technology, scarcity, and attitudes toward sustainability accelerate. My advice is to stay in touch with your context while staying true to the essence of your brand. So, keep your rebellious spirit and rage against the status quo!