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Keep It Scrappy: 5 Reasons to Think Like the Underdog in the New Year

The Influencers 246 Add to collection

Rodgers Townsend’s Andrew Dauska considers the reasons and benefits to embracing the underdog mentality for brand growth

Keep It Scrappy: 5 Reasons to Think Like the Underdog in the New Year

At their core, people, inherently love to root for the Underdog. Rudy. Cinderella. Just look at this past weekend's NFL Playoffs with three underdogs prevailing in the final minutes. What’s more is that there's a great affinity amongst consumers for underdog brands: the upstart challenging industry paramounts. Ultimately, when someone or something projects that vibe that they're trying harder, not taking success for granted, they can inspire and motivate. 

Most of us have been there at some point in our lives. We know what it’s like to be counted out. And that's why there is something to appreciate about the underdog—the brand or band of people out-working the competition and keepin’ it scrappy.

This mentality has been part of the DNA of Rodgers Townsend over our 25 years, and key to helping us evolve and grow.

While there are some liberating benefits to being an underdog, it’s not uncommon for people to be hesitant to accept this position—they don’t want to admit that they are the #2 or #3. While this may feel like settling for a participation trophy, adjust your mindset to realise that it can be stimulating from the perspective of “how do we move faster, better, stronger, smarter?” Accepting that underdog mentality can open the door to unparalleled invention—and protect a brand’s place in the market.

Consider five reasons and benefits to embrace an underdog mentality or brand position:

  1. Hustling Harder. Jeff Bezos still ascribes to the ‘Day One’ mentality, running his business the way he did when Amazon was grassroots, and a new market entrant just trying to compete. By not getting too comfortable and resting on its laurels (and Amazon has every reason to sit back and take a breather), the company is less likely to face a threat from new competition. By retaining an underdog mentality, a brand can future-proof itself from becoming Blockbuster, Borders, and Blackberry.
  2. Outsmarting budgets. An underdog will never have the luxury of outspending the #1 in their industry. Underdogs must think unexpectedly, even daringly. Outsmarting the confines of a smaller check book challenges a team to create with the power to catch a new consumer’s eye, appeal to a modern line of thinking, and bring an untapped and non-traditional audience into the fold. Look no further than the thousands of creators and makers flooding our social feeds with entertainment that’s winning our attention at Hollywood’s expense.
  3. Experimentation is exciting. An underdog has to be flexible and agile. You can turn on a dime and pivot no matter what the world throws at you. Throwing different approaches to the world, and testing to see what lands with consumers can develop a brand’s personality through trial and learning. Whereas a #1 can be confined to who they are, what their customers or Wall Street expects them to be.
  4. Highlighting a disadvantage can drive affinity. And generate real connections. An underdog is believable because they address real-world anxieties, challenges, and beliefs. Nobody’s perfect, and consumers identify with this. Everyone wants to succeed, after all, when the odds are stacked against them. Showcasing humble beginnings, communicating the struggle, conveying hopes and dreams—all of that resonates with an audience and can create interest that leads to loyalty.
  5. They just won’t see you coming. An underdog brand or team may have limited resources and be playing with their own scorecard. They’re often humble and not making noise, in the interest of focusing on winning the game. However, when a brand does it right, and eyes (and dollars) start turning their way, they win. It can be a good thing when people underestimate and don’t see you coming. Over four years, and on a budget that is a fraction of their competition, one of our clients in the Home & Garden space just became #1 in their category.

Embracing an underdog mindset, can unlock the doors to shifting a team’s behaviour and build significant business advantage. Fierce determination can generate new lines of thinking, and in-turn, considerable revenue.

When an underdog brand has the opportunity to display passion, showcase perseverance, and demonstrate heart for what they do for their customers, the ability to inspire presents itself. And that is where the advantage of the underdog lies. What better opportunity than the start of a new year to re-frame your mindset.

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DDB North America, Thu, 27 Jan 2022 14:44:11 GMT