The Edit Blog

5 brands who dared to be different and won

ARTICLE BY Toby Brown
READ TIME: 4 mins
7th November 2019

Here at Edit, we’re busy getting ready for MadFest, this year themed around “daring to be different”.

In that spirit, here’s the first in a short series celebrating those brands who have struck out and dared to be different themselves – for better or for worse.

5 Brands Who Dared to be Different and Won.

Brands should never stop searching for their competitive edge.

Anything which gives consumers a reason to choose your brand over the next must be uncovered, highlighted and articulated in a way which renders the competition obsolete in their mind.

All successful brands do this to some extent – however, some have dared to go the extra mile in embracing their difference and have seen phenomenal growth as a result.

Here are five of Edit’s favourites.

1. Pala Eyewear

Daring to be different isn’t always about making huge statements or courting controversy. Sometimes it’s about looking at a sector and deciding to do things better, in a way that benefits everyone.

That’s exactly what Pala Eyewear have done, taking stock of a fast-moving, environmentally challenging sector and retooling it; their products are the epitome of sustainable fashion, (their entire new collection will be made from bio-acetate, so chemical-free and fully biodegradable), with cases created using traditional Ghanaian weaving and using otherwise wasted plastic.

For every pair of glasses sold, Pala gives back to eyecare programmes in Africa, helping thousands of people get their sight back.

As founder John Pritchard says: “The journey to becoming the most sustainable eyewear brand in market has meant that often solutions have been harder to achieve and the outcomes not always known. However, if you simply made the easy choices you would never disrupt the market and have a point of difference. You have to dare to be different”.

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2. Dos Equis

In 2006, if you were a beer ad in America you were; juvenile, cliched and stuffed full of attractive young women who seemed to melt at the sound of a ringpull.

The American beer brand Dos Equis changed that, with their left-field campaign featuring the Most Interesting Man in the World, switching out party-boy antics for a character with a chequered and intriguing life. Little-known fact about the Most Interesting Man – Great British Bakeoff’s Paul Hollywood has based his entire persona on him. And why not?

In the 4 years following the campaign launch, sales of Dos Equis doubled; proof that clever zigging when your competition are busy downing kegs pays dividends.

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3. Innocent

Branding and behaviour align in Innocent’s positioning.  At launch, their iconic tone of voice was so different from their competitive set that it became instantly recognisable – and in the ultimate mark of respect, imitated across all sorts of sectors looking to recreate that warm fuzzy, “we’re not a brand, we’re your kooky mate” vibe. When even your funeral plan provider is talking to you in Innocent-esque language (Hey! Don’t worry about death! It’s just being put in the ground in a silly box and that) you know that the impact Innocent made by daring to be different from their bland competitors has genuinely altered how brands interact with consumers across even the most unexpected sectors. They’re also a great reminder, that provided your brand positioning is right, a little humour can go a long way.

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4. The new Financial Services disruptors

Starling, Monzo et al have different reasons for daring to be different – meeting evolving consumer needs. Some of their difference are purely cosmetic, sure (vertical cards! Bright colours!), but these are emblematic of a ground-up reappraisal of what a modern hipster *ahem* consumer needs from their bank; easy mobile access, unrestricted accounts, legible statements, lack of dead trees and no stupid fees.

Although defined by their difference from legacy banks, these Financial Services upstarts have more to lose if they play it safe.

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5. ASOS

Fast fashion is competitive sector, where brands live and die on their unique propositions. However, underneath the frenetic activity, ASOS are quietly championing difference and diversity, from the simple stuff (plus-size clothing across female and male lines) to the more visible – campaigns featuring a truly diverse range of people and make-up ranges sold in both male and female sections of the site. ASOS have recognised, and capitalised on as yet untapped markets and niche demographics, ignored by many other brands.

From their initial disruptive beginnings (when many believed you couldn’t sell clothes without a bricks and mortar store) to their current status as fashion goliaths, their daring attitude fits them like a shoe – perhaps one of the larger sizes they stock in order to cater to transgender shoppers.

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So: There’s five brands who have reaped the benefit of daring to be different. Come find us at MadFest (13th/14th November at the Truman Brewery) to discuss daring, creativity, and good-old fashioned simple solutions to complex marketing problems.

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