Marketing plots: The leader’s lament

┬áLast time I talked about the generic trap loop. This time I want to talk about another generic trap, a “golden generic cage” of sorts. Another case where being successful brings with it the curse of becoming generic.

I’m fascinated by stories where leading brands become stuck in that generic spot everybody is trying to get out of. These are players who worked very hard to get to the top, only to discover they’re all pretty much the same up there.
As a consultant I really like working with challenger brands, but often find them trudging through a painful plateau, that is something quite depressing for a hard-working
over-achieving team.

This is a plot that repeats in highly competitive global categories, especially with big service oriented B2B companies. In these categories it is common to have hundreds if not thousands of global players, but there will usually be a group of leaders that tower among everyone else. They may be top-5 top-10 or top-50, it depends on the category, but they stand apart from all the rest.

When a brand enters this exclusive club a common mistake will be to get stuck on things that no longer matter for audiences:
“We’ve grown a lot in the last couple of years – nobody seems knows it. Let’s make more noise about how big and good we are.”.
News-flash: no one cares. Of course you’re big, that’s why you’re a top-X player. Thus, this fact becomes boring and irrelevant. Counter-intuitive, eh?

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