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'Intelligent naïveté' can boost brands

News, 19 June 2015

SAN FRANCISCO: Possessing "intelligent naïveté" can be a huge benefit for challenger brands as they seek to overcome major players in their category, according to Mark Barden of eatbigfish.

Barden – who is the San Francisco-based partner of eatbigfish, a consultancy that specialises in working with challengers – discussed this topic at ad:tech San Francisco 2015.

And he suggested that "intelligent naïveté" is often a powerful foundation for companies attempting to take on established incumbents and change entire industries.

"If you're in a category where you don't have a huge amount of experience … that can be an asset if you're thinking like a challenger," he said. (For more, including further tips and examples, read Warc's exclusive report: The power of challenger brands to surprise (and often delight)).

"Try to see the opportunity to introduce some new criteria of choice into the category."

In citing examples of this trend in action, he pointed to digital accommodation service Airbnb and eyewear disruptor Warby Parker as useful illustrations.

By finding points of dissatisfaction and opportunity within how their respective sectors operated, these firms were able to carve out a clear niche.

"Challengers punch above their weight primarily by creating a story that has, at its heart, this tension," he continued.

"It's a challenge: 'We're going to change the way things work. We're going to take on a big monster on behalf of the world. We're going to get the world to pay attention.'"

Being an upstart in this manner, he argued, is about more than simply introducing an innovative product or service – it requires having "big ambitions" to tackle current norms and conventions.

"It's hard to stand up and challenge the world very publicly unless it's coming from this place of deep conviction that this is the right thing to do, and that the world needs this," he said.

Data sourced from Warc