Does my brand look big in this?

Nederlands: Japanese blowfish (fugu)

Japanese blowfish (fugu) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As marketers, we’re often encouraged to puff up our brands to look as big as possible so that they appear significant and credible in a global marketplace. There’s a sense that if you’re big, you must be successful and if you’re successful, then there’s a higher than likely chance that you’ll continue to grow.

Size matters. But not always in the senses that we have been led to believe.

My own view is that the size of your business is actually less critical than the scale and/or extent of your thinking.

A big brand on the hoof is a thing of beauty, to be sure. Strong, assured, competitive, resourced and focused on bringing its vision of the future to life. Big brands command presence and respect.

But the biggest companies aren’t always the smartest, they’re not always the pace setters and they’re certainly not infallible even though they might like to think they are. I have only to direct attention to the GFC to remind all of us that neither history nor size counts as an immunity pill. Sometimes the bigger they brand, the harder they fall.

And what if you’re a minnow? What then?

If you’re a small company in a sector dominated by companies that are large, powerful, respected and ebullient, you’ll never beat them at their game. They’ll outgun you quickly, arrogantly, even dismissively. But all is not lost. You could look for ways to lay down a big attitude that draws attention and gets people interested and attached to you. Such an approach may be your key to truly downsizing the cachet of those who otherwise will simply try and lord it over you.

Being a larger than life brand brings with it opportunities to achieve greater presence and respect than your natural mass might suggest. By pushing up your profile and achieving greater front of mind than your competitors might expect or than you would otherwise command, you can “blow-fish” your size in the market by being more cheeky, fun, rewarding and engaging than all the staid big players around you.

Competitive radicalism

All this leaves brands with four options in my view – all oriented around a competitive radicalism that I predict will increasingly see brands exiting the middle ground, in attitude at least.

To stand out, think very big or very small – or be one, and act the other.

1. Be the monster – the brand that the whole world can’t help but notice.

2. Or be the upstart – the brand that someone can’t wait to discover and tell others about.

Better yet:

3. Be a monstrous upstart – a cult brand that is noisier than its size warrants because it wields a big attitude and a loyal community.

4. Or an upstart monster – an established brand that tirelessly challenges its own rules.

Strong brands project. They cast a powerful image of themselves to the world that may or may not correspond to their size. And they can project a future for themselves that is immensely powerful.

Loom large in the minds of those who buy from you and those who compete with you. Or slowly but surely fade away (or get eaten).

Stark choices.

More reading

Market leadership: the –out and the -est
The business of cloning
Always be branding
You can’t lead as a brand if you follow another brand
Great brands unearth
Is your brand ready for the experience war?
Brands at the speed of life

Other perspectives

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