Small consumer brands have more opportunity than ever to challenge category leaders for market share. Leading brands have more resources, but they’re often still slower to innovate or adapt to change in consumer behavior.

Researchers like Bain & Company and David Morey have followed the behavioral patterns of the most successful industry disruptors to uncover what they all have in common.

In a six-part series, creative strategist Tyler Leahy breaks down the playbook you should follow if you want to be an insurgent brand and market disruptor.

Insurgent brands are disrupting left and right, by seeing what’s hidden in plain sight.

Amazon. Tesla. Noosa. Halo Top. Impossible Foods. We can all rattle off disruptive brands. They’re fascinating, and they’re idolized in our business culture.

Their secret to brand building? Not so secret after all. They’ve exploded by nailing really simple brand-building tactics that we all know, and fail to execute to perfection.

These industry disruptors, now coined by researchers as “insurgent brands,” have patterns in their behavior we can learn from. Collectively, these insurgent brand patterns come together as a playbook of tactics you can use in your own business.

Insurgent brands \ in-‘s∂r-j∂nt ‘brands \ n: Dynamic brands with a clear vision and an entrepreneurial mission, committed to fulfilling an unmet need

Researchers like Bain & Company and David Morey have captured a mountain of data, case studies, and findings. I’m making it digestible and giving you tasks to bring back to your team.

If you own or manage a small company trying to claw your way to the top of your market — locally, nationally, or even globally, this six-part article series will outline everything you need to know to get started…

And why do all of the hard work I’m about to detail in the next five articles? So your brand can be the next major disruptor in your market.

Before we jump into all of the work you need to do, here’s what all highly industry disruptors have in common:

1. Commitment to fulfilling an unmet need. 

To insurgents, product or service differentiation isn’t a marketing gimmick; it’s integral to every business choice made.

2. Clear vision and mission. 

Utmost clarity (and teamwide transparency) of entrepreneurial vision and company mission are critical if you’re trying to achieve insurgent status.

There’s a balance to strike. Insurgents make informed growth decisions and exercise restraint when needed. At the same time, they maintain a willingness to “break the rules” in their category, innovating in line with company vision, mission, and consumer behaviors, (not with the competition).

Fueled by continuous learning about the customer, they challenge their own assumptions and adapt accordingly.

3. Playing offense. 

Insurgent brands don’t wait for market change and then play defense. Rather than fall victim to market trends, they create market trends, putting to use all that they’re learning about their customer base and the market segment. That’s how they aggressively carve out market share.

4. Brand memorability. 

Build brand advocates, at a low cost. Insurgent brands maximize limited marketing budgets by hyper-focusing on a core customer base, which drives word-of-mouth recommendations within that customer base (and beyond).

5. Shopper visibility. 

There’s nothing wrong with testing and refining products (or services) in the marketplace while building consumer advocacy. That’s what shopper visibility is all about — and insurgents use it to maintain high price points and retain control over their brand, before hitting national or international distribution.

6. Focus on “hero SKUs.” 

More products don’t necessarily mean better products, or a more compelling value proposition to retailers or to end-users.

In scale-up mode, successful insurgents are aware of this and strongly emphasize a few select “hero SKUs,” instead of trying to grow by launching more and more new products (or services).

The benefit? A simple value proposition, and the ability to maintain a high price point.

Seem like a code your company can live by? You might be cut out to disrupt after all. But there’s some up-front work to do before implementing this model.

Step 1? Do the right kind of research.

Six-Point Creative’s flagship brand development program, Solve for Y, builds authentic brand identities and educates organizations on how to strategically implement them.

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