The Edge Factor

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The Edge Factor

As the good British Armchair Nation wait with baited breath for the X Factor finals every December, it made me think how does a brand continue year-on-year being successful? How do they maintain their competitive edge? How do brands find ways to continue to surprise and delight their fans?

Is it luck, is it just that Je ne sais quoi?

Well, no its not. Weve taken a look at some of the worlds most revered brands and compiled a list of insights on how brands ‘really made it their own’, ‘are the person to beat’ and ‘are the people’s champ’.

So heres a list of principles you can apply to a brand in many a pickle. Whether youre a premium brand fending off private label, or youre a challenger brand needing to punch above your weight, or youre simply losing your edge, you can take these principles and apply one or all of them to your brand.

The first principle: Aim High! Dont settle for the obvious, take a close look at your audience and find a higher-order consumer need that you can tap into and own. Cadbury and Coca Cola do this brilliantly. They dont sell chocolate or refreshment. They are purveyors of joyful content and happiness. Where better to spend your money and what better way to add value to your brand?

Second up: Tell A Great Story (Allowing Engagement). The thing a lot of confident brands do well is create an engaging story thats bigger than the brand itself. Mustafa and Fabio have brought this to Old Spice in schamazing quantities and Red Bull are known for this more than theyre known for that sickly, fizzy drink.

An effective yet simple one up next: Be A Moving Target. Keep innovating, dont stand still. Give shoppers a reason to spend a little more on your brand. Make your brand difficult to copy. Use your brand equity to push the category forward. Evians Paul Smith bottles are a beautiful example of this.

Behave Like A Media Company. Broadcast carefully curated content beyond product activity, within the remit of what the brand stands for, to surprise, delight and entertain consumers.

In at number five: Collaborate With Other Like-Minded Brands. Also known as a ‘borrow and build’ strategy brands that cleverly collaborate with brands who are of one mind, and potentially nearing the top of their game, can quickly add kudos and shortcut brand success.

Many brands: Promote A Cause. But its not simply about offering a percentage of your profits, its about educating the consumer about a cause you can really embrace. Taking two Unilever brands as an example you can either take the controversial Marmite approach or the game-changing Real Beauty Campaign.

Next, an important one inspired by the British Olympic Cycle Team: Marginal Gains Lead To Big Rewards. The special attention to detail, that premium brands exhibit, elevates the brand to an almost ‘white glove’ experience. This theory isnt exclusive to those brands with lots of money, any brand can make sure its user experience, design, customer service and social media is thoughtfully looked at to make it ‘the balls’.

Cultivate Current Relationships As Well As New. Reward and engage existing customers, as well as potential ones, thereby creating genuine loyalty. Starbucks have this nailed.

Finally: Dont Underestimate The Power Of Advocates. Not only do advocates make sacrifices for you (often price), they will be your brand ambassadors, spreading the love. As 90% of people trust recommendations from friends, creating brand advocates is an enormously powerful marketing tool. The ambition is turning brand sluts into brand ambassadors. Lego and Coca Cola (again) do this brilliantly.

And there it is, follow a few of these principles and you may find yourself King or Queen of Schmazingness.

Niki Macartney
Planning Director

Southpaw Communications Ltd


Advertising Agency
The Warehouse, Hill Street,
Tunbridge Wells,