Driving to work recently I was listening to an interview with Miley Cyrus. Now I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Miley’s, but as I was listening to her in this interview, it struck a chord with me. For the first time I really thought about Miley the brand, rather than Miley the twerker.

In the interview she talked about how that she feels when people say to her “you’ve changed” it is an amazing compliment. She goes on to say, “You should always be changing, you should always be growing up, you should always be evolving. The one thing you can always count on is change.” And hasn’t Miley showed us this over the years? From her humble start at Disney, to her provocative twerking days, to her current release that sees her go back to her rock and country roots. Her success is testament to why change is crucial for continued success.

So, what’s this got to do with challenger brands? Well, in the same way that if a person isn’t changing and evolving to achieve success, neither will a challenger brand. One of the inherent characteristics of a challenger brand is the mindset of believing that if it’s perfect, you can make it better, if it’s broken, you can fix it and if you’re not growing, you’re not changing.

The first step to embracing change for your challenger brand is accepting that change is crucial for success. Being agile and always moving a step ahead of your competitors will help you to drive your success.

The degree to which your brand needs to change may vary and we often rate this on a scale of ‘evolution to revolution’. Evolution being a small step away from where you are today, or a series of gradual steps, taking consumers on a journey with your brand. Revolution, as the name implies, is a complete overhaul of your brand. How big a change a brand should make and how often depends on where your brand is today.

Let’s first look at evolution. Take oil company Shell and its iconic logo. From its beginnings as a mussel shell emblem around the turn of the century to the iconic yellow and red pecten shape of today, the logo has had no less than 10 design changes over the century. Looking at the original logo and the current in isolation, a consumer would notice a substantial shift – a revolution perhaps? But viewing the steps of progression over the past century, you’ll see Shell has taken the consumer on a journey of evolution, keeping up with graphic design trends and technological changes (like the move to more distinct lines to aid better facsimile transmission in the 1950s) to maintain relevance within the current market. However, the most recent change was made in 1999 when the word ‘Shell’ was dropped from the logo – 18 years on, is it time for Shell to embrace change again to ensure the brand is relevant, resonates and stands out in the category?

When looking at brands which needed to embrace change in a more revolutionary way, Apple quickly comes to mind. As a brand which for many decades had rocky sales and low market share, Apple needed to adopt a challenger mindset and strive to differentiate itself in a meaningful way, starting with its brandmark. Side by side, the original brandmark and the current are hardly recognisable as being the same brand. The original brandmark struggles to draw any parallels with computers or technology while the modern logo with its sleek shape and simple functionality exudes everything that Apple the brand is.

On the scale of evolution to revolution, the size and rate at which your brand needs to change depends on many factors – the current size of your brand, its growth rate and its competitive environment are just a few of these contributing factors. But don’t be fooled, if your brand is big and you are growing, this does not mean that change is not necessary – you want to stay big and growing so planning your future transformations is critical to do this so that you stay ahead of the game and your competitors.

For challenger brands specifically, change is critical for success. At the heart of a challenger brand is the mind-set that brands don’t become successful by chance. Those that truly make a difference become successful through challenging the status quo. They inspire and motivate consumers to act differently while challenging complacency and disrupting the markets of today to change and evolve. This is a never-ending task that challenger brands need to embrace and deliver to. Always providing something better or different – whether that be its product, its benefits, or how it speaks and interacts with consumers.

So back to Miley, who once said “You can’t stop people from talking about you, but you can stop giving them something to talk about.” She’s right again! Challenger brands need to keep giving consumers something to talk about to keep them front of mind and keep them talking. Constant change makes sure your brand gets noticed and achieves its goals. Who knew this former starlet and tween idol had so many words of wisdom?!

Image credit: shell.com and designschool.canva.com