- Brand Strategy
- Brand Evolution
- Brand Growth
Brand Matters: Going Counterculture
HOW COUNTERCULTURE BRANDS ATTRACT NICHE MARKETS
HOW TO LEVERAGE A COUNTERCULTURE BRAND TO BUILD BRAND LOYALTY
HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE FROM COMPETITORS AND CREATE A UNIQUE IDENTITY
BRANDING FOR DISRUPTORS
We get it—“disruptor” is one of those startup buzzwords that gets used a little too much because many companies like to think of themselves as cooler than their competitors. But if your business strives to smash the status quo, is changing the way consumers interact with products and services, and is focused on innovation, reflecting this attitude in your brand may be the right approach for your business.
“Counterculture” doesn’t necessarily mean black leather jackets and Slayer (although it can). Still, it resonates with those customers who embody and embrace the line of thinking where rules can be bent and the marketing playbook has snarky drawings in the margins. A counterculture brand is all about being true to yourself and breaking away from the mainstream. These brands don’t care about pleasing everyone; they’re focused on connecting with the customers who get it and form the community around their brand. Take Liquid Death: a canned water company that’s worth a cool $700 million and draws inspiration from death metal. On paper, they are doing all the “wrong” things — their packaging scares children, joining their loyalty program requires you to sell your soul, and their tagline is “Murder Your Thirst.” If you read all that and thought “Dude, that’s badass,” perhaps you’re considering going down a similar route. Keep reading for the top 5 reasons why a counterculture brand might be the way to go.
1. IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE, AND THAT’S OK.
The term counterculture has lost much of its luster when you see storied legacy brands make clumsy moves to appeal to a dream (typically younger) demographic. The problem is, this approach can be forced, disingenuous, and, well, feeling like…
It only makes sense if it’s who you are. You may no longer be that teenage punk who used to go to hardcore shows at the VFW hall, but that rebel spirit still lives within you even as a respectable adult with a business and responsibilities. When you embrace your countercultural ethos, you’ll attract a group of consumers who see you—non-conformist, rebellious, challenger of the status quo—because you resonate with them. You won’t be appealing to everyone, but you’ll definitely attract the right kind of customers for your business.
2. LOYALTY RULES
Counterculture brands foster strong loyalty among their customers. When people identify with your brand, they'll keep coming back, and they'll spread the word to their friends and family. That kind of loyalty can translate into long-term relationships and repeat business.
3. STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
Standing out in a crowded marketplace is tough, but a counterculture brand can help you do just that. You'll differentiate yourself from the competition and create a unique identity that resonates with your customers.
4. CREATE A STRONG BRAND STORY
Every business has a story to tell, and when you share your story with your customers, you'll create an emotional connection that's hard to beat. Being true to yourself and your values is the key to success in business, and customers appreciate that authenticity.
It has to be executed well, though. For all your subversiveness, you must still demonstrate stability, consistency, and trustworthiness. Customers need to know that they can trust you with their hard-earned dollars and aren’t going to peace out in the middle of the night. How is this done? At DesignScout, we have a wealth of experience balancing these elements in a way that is rooted in brand strategy. We know what communicates authenticity, and how to balance the more renegade aspects of your brand with the qualities that are necessary to communicate stability and longevity.
5. STAY RELEVANT
Counterculture is always evolving, allowing you to embrace the changing values and preferences of your customers.
But hold up—can counterculture brands work for B2B businesses too? Absolutely! Take our client, BAMKO. They're one of the fastest-growing promotional product companies out there but wanted to stand out from the rest of the industry. We helped them rebrand and highlight their disruptive approach, and they're killing it now.
And if you're wondering whether counterculture brands are effective, just ask BenjYehuda. This Chicago-based falafel and shawarma shop had great food, but they needed a brand story to really take things to the next level.
In one of our first meetings there were early suggestions (from us, we admit) about changing their name (“It’s too long! Too hard to read! Unpronounceable!“) and moving away from black as a brand color (mainly due to its legendarily unappetizing field presence in the food world).
Then came the brand strategy. The more we dove deep into Benjyehuda’s scrappy origin story, the founders, and their us vs. the world attitude, the more we asked ourselves, “Why the not?” This is an Anthony Bourdain brand, after all.
Once we knew who they were, we went all-in on the things the marketing rulebook says you’re not supposed to do. We kept the name (customers called Chipotle “Ch-pah-tle” at first, too) and fully embraced the black-and-white color palette. We worked with them to define their messaging, rebrand their stores, and evolve their presence online and off. After launch, their sales skyrocketed by 40%.
If this sounds like it may be right approach for your brand, we can help you pull ahead of the pack. Contact us today to start your brand strategy and discover the rebel within.