Be A Challenger, Think Distinctively, & Make Something Beautiful

*cliche warning*

The World Is Changing

Yeah, I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s so accurate. Business is changing. Demographics are changing. Politics are changing. Consumer behavior is changing. But ask yourself, is your business adapting to these changes? We often like to think that it is. We like to think that what we are doing is innovative and unique, that what we are doing is modern and relevant. But, for the sake of longevity, let’s challenge that for a second.

Success vs. Sustainability

There is a difference between success and sustainability and when we set business goals, we instinctively pursue success before sustainability. Success is the immediate and short-term consequence of an action. Success is easy to measure, and we like that. We love to sit at meetings and look at the numbers. It’s comfortable and rewarding to see revenue growth, new hires, utilizing economies of scale, and seeing new products come off the line. With good reason, we have become accustomed to pursue these measurements and maintain the recipe that yields results.

Sustainability is much different. Sustainability is a measurement of success over time, accomplished through innovation and discovery. It’s a look into the future, the unknown. There are no numbers and data here. It’s unmapped territory.

Businesses that last will look at both. As an agency, it is incredibly important for us to be aware of the trends, the changes, and the transitions of the business world. We always need to stay on top of what is happening in a variety of industries to ensure that our work continues to evolve and stay ambitious. Over the years, we have dramatically changed components of our work both inside at out. We have restructured many of our operations and advertising functions, experimented with new ad delivery methods, expanded into industries and territory we haven’t explored before. It’s all part of a constantly evolving model that stays relevant and continues to deliver top-notch work for our partners.

Be a method, not a Blockbuster.

Challenge your perception of sustainability can be difficult. Business is growing and things may seem well when a new player suddenly enters the industry and changes everything. There are dozens of these cases and they are all good ones to remember. As an industry matures and ages, the opportunity for innovation and change only grows. This was the exact case with the household cleaning sector in the early 2000’s.

If you’re familiar with method’s brand, it’s probably because of their design. As a household cleaning brand, they broke into an industry that had been practicing the same marketing tactics for decades. When every other brand was occupied with who could kill more germs, who could make more mothers smile on (awkward and terrible) commercials, and who could prove their product was a better scent, method came in with a completely new set of values. Their line of products disrupted the industry by being something incredibly beautiful. The clear bottle with it’s clean and contemporary design was something that homeowners would actually want to display on their bathroom sinks. The products were environmentally friendly and focused on a simple lifestyle. No more dirty sink examples, side-by-side shots of a competing product after a run through the dishwasher. They knew that thinking was old and antiquated, and they found an opportunity. Even today, you still walk down the aisle of household cleaners and see it littered with green and white spray bottles glittered with flowers and cuddly animals. Yet, method continues to be the fastest growing brand in the sector. They knew the industry was aging and changing and acted on it quickly.

On the contrary, take a look at one of the most infamous examples of getting disrupted: Blockbuster.  They thought they were sustainable. They controlled and dominated the movie rental industry for decades. But they were comfortable with their success. They were blind to the changes happening the world. The speed at which broadband internet was getting adopted, the changing in demographics of their audience, the growth of internet-savvy consumers. The industry was ripe for disruption and it happened.

We all know where they are now. They actually still have a few stores open today. Fun Fact.

The point is, it can happen to any business in any industry. Ensuring the sustainability of your success is hard, but with some ambitious ideas and creative strategy, you can be the next challenger.

Want To Make Great Work? Be A Challenger.

You are in business today for a reason. You have found an incredible opportunity to be a part of something and see it grow. Your business journey continues, and that same mentality that brought that idea to life needs to be continuously growing and evolving. Every day that passes brings you closer to either success or failure. Your market, your product, your business model is either working better or fading away. You get to choose. Choose sustainability and chase new opportunities. Take leaps of faith. You may fail. Sometimes, a lot. But when you find that diamond in the rough, that success will follow you further than you could have imagined.

Make great work and ensure sustainability. Be a challenger. Challenge what you know. Challenge your lens and what you see. Challenge the norms and standards of your industry and find a way to see things that others don’t. The world moves quickly, it’s your job to always be ahead of it.

Be a challenger, think distinctively, and make something beautiful.


This post was largely inspired by Adam Morgan’s book Eating The Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders. It’s a terrific book that will inspire you to think differently about the industry you’re in and further understand how businesses fall into complacency.

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