Look who’s moved in next door

Ghostbusters got it right: “Who you gonna call…?” The power of relevance and recognition in the immediacy of the moment between the brain and the hand on the phone is why people should already know your brand’s name.

Brands that achieve the ultimate goal of people referring to their product by name rather than the generic term, such as Esky, Coke and Hoover, have spent decades and millions to weave their brand into the fabric of culture. The power these brands have is almost an unfathomable mountain for the brand that has its hand up in a crowd of thousands.

These days, companies know they must be memorable, dependable, have a great customer experience and be easily recognisable across the plethora of channels they need to be present in. But is that enough? Is it enough to just be good, or even great? No, not when a disruptive brand enters the ring or sets up camp next door, on the previously unoccupied vacant block that no one knew what to do with.

So what’s it take to get noticed in this noisy environment of brands? For a company to stand out and scale to being a large player, they have no choice but to be disruptive. Not just in the way they do things, such as Uber and Purple Bricks, but in the way they present themselves to the market. Disruptive marketing is destined to be the next over-used marketing term, like ‘guerilla marketing’ back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but that just confirms it’s a recognised fact that it works. To be a serious player, the status quo needs to be challenged. ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it though?’ will never be muttered by a winner.

Disruptive brands make something better, simpler and different. That poses a particular set of challenges for a creative agency. They have to communicate a message that aligns to the brand but also changes behaviour. In 2003, a Melbourne-based entrepreneur devised a better way to do business-to-business payments in the travel industry. It revolutionised the industry, but that education piece of doing things differently and better didn’t happen overnight. Their marketing constantly strives to simplify their message to reflect the simplicity and benefits of their virtual card payments system. Today that company, eNett, processes tens of billions of dollars in payment flows. Uber had to bring people around to a new way of thinking and, at the same time, gain their trust to pre-enter their credit card details into their app. Because they achieved simple and direct messaging, word of mouth did Uber’s marketing for them. From nothing to US$60b in seven years.

The innovation behind disruptive brands is thought leadership material and contains endless numbers and coding, but the marketing they require is the direct opposite. It has to be human to be relatable, simple to make changing behaviour accessible, cool so it will be popular, and have the clearest of BVPs to guide every output.

Hard Edge is a strategic marketing and creative agency for disruptive brands. 
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