How Challenger Brands Can Put Their Customers First

Challenger Brands Are Customer-Centric

A core pillar of being a Challenger Brand is the care and purpose they have in delivering results that meaningfully benefit society and the environment. For that reason, being customer-obsessed should come as second-nature.

Every time someone interacts with your brand they should leave empowered, better informed, and clear about the impact your brand is having in their lives.

But how exactly do Challenger Brands do that, and what can they leverage to ensure they’re ready to anticipate customer needs?

Approach every touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust 

Marketing isn’t about saying something so many times that a consumer will be forced to convert. It’s about offering positive value to their lives and framing messages in a way that the customer feels like they’re taking something away, be that in terms of a product, service, or new insight.

This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted just how much trust has moved, with the study stating that 70% of consumers believe trusting a brand is more important today than it was in the past and 74% agree the reason for that is a brand’s impact on society.

At 5&Vine, we urge brands to think about building trust into their foundations from day one. This goes all the way from brand socials, to seamless UX, all the way to customer service, fostering trust at every step of the customer journey. In our work spanning pre-seed to Series B startups, from organic meal delivery to disease outbreak risk software, the process of building trust is the same.

Acknowledge your honesty and authenticity

Trust is developed through acknowledgement and knowing when to take ownership of situations. Mistakes when building a brand are inevitable and there are times when things don’t always go to plan. If that happens, own it. Playstation’s release of their newest Playstation 5 model has been nothing short of chaotic. The brand tweeted an apology that, while short, at least acknowledged the frustration its consumers were feeling.

Promote causes that are meaningful

A key trend we highlighted in our round-up of Challenger Trends of 2021 was in advising brands to double down on their political position. We talked about Patagonia sewing labels into their garments that read ‘vote the assholes out’ in 2020 and Levi Strauss & Co. pledging over $1m to organizations and youth activists fighting gun crime. More than ever, customers want to invest in brands that align with their morals and ethics.

Use your website to showcase third-party validation

There’s a lot to say for reviews and third-party validation. Whether it’s a logo pool on your site listing the companies you’ve worked with or a space that champions customer testimonials, reviews and, if possible, case studies, showcase the people who believe in your brand and why.

Consistency is key 

It’s not enough to share an update or product release and let the algorithms do the rest. You need to interrogate every step of your customer’s journey and consider where there are pitfalls and opportunities when it comes to trust. Then, you need to publish consistent content that speaks to that journey. Ask yourself:

  • Are you building trust across various social media channels through the consistent use of authentic copy and creative visuals?

  • Are you using your newsletters to bring value and insight to your community?

  • Are you designing your web pages to reflect the internal trust you’ve built between teams?

  • Are you partnering with influencers externally who align with your vision and are actively building trust?

Listen to Customer Feedback 

For brands, customer feedback is a tool to harness to make improvements at every level of your business. It shapes trust and should be listened to, acknowledged, and taken on board, whether positive or not.

According to American Express, 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company and 63% of consumers expect businesses to know about their unique needs and expectations.

Setting aside time to be on the frontline with customers and having a sense of past issues will allow you to prepare yourself for emerging ones. Understand how customers are interacting with your brand, how they’re talking about it online, what matters to them as consumers, and where new challenges are arising.

But don’t forget to challenge the status quo 

It’s a Challenger Brand’s constant aim to upend the status quo. It’s the underlying principle that drives their products and how they approach business. When it comes to trust, the mantra should stay the same.

As you’re doing so, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure your values matter. Constantly evaluate ideas based on those values and have the courage to speak up when those ideas don’t align with your values.

  • Constantly question assumptions. Ask yourself, what industry norms are unjust or not in service to people and the planet? How can those norms be challenged and improved? What role can and will your product and/or company play in realizing that change?

  • And lastly, take a holistic look at your entire business to determine what you want your brand’s legacy to be and how you, in collaboration with your customers, team members and stakeholders, will participate in shaping it. Make sure the people and planet you’re serving are the heroes of your story.

In closing 

A true Challenger Brand works relentlessly to do right by their customers, teams and communities around them. They confidently believe that in doing so, they’ll be able to position themselves for a win in the short and long term while making a meaningful impact in the years to come.

Whether you’re a start-up or more established, working in food or fintech, the time to start making your brand more customer-centric starts today. Approach every touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust, listen to customer feedback, and be bold in challenging the status quo.

For more on how 5&Vine can help your business make the most of its unfair advantage and position it for a win, book a Free Consultation here.


Ready to challenge the
status quo and win?

👋 I'm Rahul, founder and CMO at 5&Vine. Reach out to schedule an intro call about your marketing challenges and let's assess how 5&Vine can help your brand win.

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