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[Masters of Marketing] Space - The Last Frontier

The COVID-19 crisis has given us all a heightened sensitivity to the notion of space. Much as we like our personal space, it turns out we need to distance ourselves from each other. This paradox will play itself out as we quickly get to grips with the new normal around us.

Brands, too, need their space. David Shaw of CourageousBrands explains why, and how we can all do our bit to help them survive and thrive in the jungle out there.


Brand space is as precious to business as personal space is to us.

Brands exist in the mind. While the human mind has room for much, there isn’t enough space in there for everything. Something has to give.

This has implications for brand stewards and marketers. There is no such thing as a safe space for brands any more. Once you get comfortable, someone else will push you out.

How can we guard against that? By becoming a Challenger brand, and framing your opportunity in different ways. Here are 3 ways to try out:

1. Don’t swim where the fish are.

It’s easy and safe to follow the leader But what happens when you follow the leader? Your brand becomes wallpaper and disappears from the consumer’s consciousness. Don’t set up a tent where everyone else plays. As a famous ad agency once said, When others zig, zag.

2. Build a lighthouse identity.

A lighthouse is built on a firm foundation – solid rock. Success as a Challenger brand comes through developing a very clear sense of who you are and where you stand as a brand and as a business. Don‘t try to be all things to everyone. You’ll end up pleasing no one. Get very clear on what you believe in, and stand for, then stand for it. Be known for something.

3. Create symbols of re-evaluation.

Challenger brands move swiftly and powerfully to capture indifferent consumers’ minds with dramatic acts that become symbolic icons of change. Their purposeful actions force consumers to rethink their assumptions about a category, to re-examine the brand’s image in their minds, and to re-evaluate the brand’s role in their lives.

Space is the one universal need. Brands and brand marketers need to find their own space, too. It may well be the final frontier for business to explore new worlds and go boldly where no brand has ever gone before.

David Shaw has positioned brands, developed marketing strategy and aligned organizations for success for over three decades, in his various lives as an advertising creative director, client marketer and brand consultant. But what really turns his crank, is when brands find the courage to become Challengers.

If you are an experienced senior marketer from a brand, agency or tech company willing to share your marketing secrets and would like to contribute to the Masters of Marketing series, click here to get in touch.


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