5 strategies to protect your brand from competitive disruptive innovation

Disruptive innovations are creating what Seth Godin refers to as “remarkability”, a product and service so outstanding, we feel compelled to talk about it and share it with others. While Apple’s ipod, and ipad are disruptive technologies we all know well, there are many other game changers that are radically changing the way brands create value in our world.


Genome technology, for instance, is a disruptive innovation in medicine, that is having a profound impact on how medicine is delivered. The technology’s ability to model the total DNA of the body, will capture an individual’s predisposition towards certain disease states. Scientists are using Genome technology to track the genetic changes behind the development of cancer, to show us not only how tumors originate and grow, but lead us to opportunities to change the way the disease is treated.


There are many more disruptive innovations, which may not be rocket science, but are still having a profound impact on how value is created in our world.  Albert Culver for instance, used customer insights to co create TRESemme Fresh, a dry shampoo, for women who want to freshen their hair everyday between washes. Cynthia Nelson, Senior Manager of Global Hair Care for Alberto Culver describes their success as: “a great example of how were able to listen to the consumer and user throughout the creation and refinement process, resulting in real brand and category growth.”


So what can you do when a disruption strikes at your brand and value proposition? Here are 5 strategies to maintain competitive advantage in a category shaken by disruptive innovation.


Fighting brands to claw back marketshare

A fighting brand offers a parity product, near enough in quality but at a price point more palatable to a price sensitive segment. McDonald’s salads was their way to win back an increasingly health conscious population to their stores, while frugal technologies, like the $200 lap top, create just enough functionality, to win over people who only want, or can only afford, the basics.


Reposition your brand

When you reposition your brand, you are retuning the emotional connection to your brand to keep it resonant and put the conditions in place for a whole new wave of value to be installed. In a marketplace full of disruption, repositioning, your brand can add additional value or can morph the brand values to create a competitive edge. This process requires you to look at how value has changed within the category and how, that change, is perceived by your customers.



Innovation is high risk, and to “out innovate” a disruptive innovation, you are going to have to make a radical change to the way you deliver value. The key way leading brands are derisking their innovation in today’s market is through customer co creation. Co creation does not just happen in product research, as in the case of TRESemme, but  also where customers are customizing a product to meet their individual needs. If you want some inspiration, take  a look at “shoes of prey”, the wildly successful Australian shoe company that allows customers to design their own shoe.


Leverage the Sharing economy

I met Erin King a few weeks ago, and Australian Gen Y entrepreneur, who was able to do things differently with her disruptive business model, Companion Cruising. Erin was able to get a point of different in the mature cruise market, by offering people the chance to share a cabin. A great offer for the ever growing, singles segment market in Australia.


Leverage the Social economy

Businesses are finding more and more ways, to make their business model social. People brands make the best Facebook commerce, and I am not just talking rock stars and movie stars, but those individuals with strong personal brands within their own social networks. A friend of mine and blogger, Andre Orrego launched https://www.facebook.com/SlimFadcom grabbing thousands of Facebook likes and reblogs in only a couple of months. Andre’s explosion from no where, came from his personal credibility in his social network as someone who knew how to look after his health and wellbeing. Brands who link to a personal brand and their social networks, not only reach new audiences, but their brand grows in credibility by association, no wonder Andre has received plenty of interest from advertisers.


Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds



Founder Thought Leaders Circle


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