“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and work than follow your passions—in a way that serves the world and you”

Sir Richard Branson

Disruptive brands are the embodiment of seeing the world through a unique lens and having the audacity to make others see it too. They thrive on pushing the boundaries and making radical changes in their industries through innovative technological solutions.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, disruption refers to a significant change brought about by technological innovation, challenging the status quo in an industry or market. Take Uber and Musical.ly, for example. They saw untapped customer demands and boldly filled the void with ingenious solutions, making waves in their respective fields.

Their success stems from their ability to perceive opportunities where others don’t and to develop solutions that address unmet demands. By truly understanding their customers and providing value-driven experiences, disruptive brands build a strong foundation for long-term growth and leave an indelible mark on the business landscape.

 

“Brands that stand out from the competition are purposefully disruptive or different.”

– Bernard Kelvin Cline

What Makes a Disruptive Brand Stand Out?

Disruptive Brand

Disruptive brands are all about bringing change, regardless of the industry they operate in. They capture your attention as a consumer because their products or services have the potential to revolutionize the way things are done.

“The customer is always right” may sound cliché, but it embodies the core principle of disruptive brands. They are committed to identifying pain points and unmet needs that even consumers may not be aware of yet. Whether it’s through innovative technology, filling market gaps, or reimagining existing tasks, disruptive brands constantly push boundaries.

For instance:

  • Microsoft made computers accessible to the common man, revolutionizing the way people use and operate technology.
  • Apple disrupted the tech industry by creating user-friendly and stylish products that appeal to non-tech savvy consumers and professionals alike.
  • Netflix identified the need for on-demand streaming services and filled the gap with their highly customized platform, making content more accessible than ever.
  • Uber identified a transportation gap and developed an app that provides convenient access to transportation anytime, anywhere.

Here’s a list of those qualities that make a disruptive brand stand out:

👉 They are Innovative

They are really good at coming up with new and different things. For instance, Tesla makes electric cars and Netflix lets you watch movies and shows online. They always want to make things better and keep up with what people want. Netflix started by sending DVDs in the mail, but then they started streaming online. And Tesla started with electric cars, but now they’re also into solar energy, storing energy, and cars that can drive themselves. The combination of these makes brands consistently relevant and that is a requirement for long-term survival, impact, and influence.

👉 They resonate with their customers

Disruptive brands stay relevant and focused on customers. They understand trends and customer needs. They build strong relationships and create a loyal following. They spot market gaps and provide valuable solutions.

They do this by:
  • Telling authentic brand stories that truly resonates with their target audience. Examples: Coca-Cola emphasizes happiness, Apple emphasizes innovation.
  • Prioritizing user experience & making their products easy to use & understand. Examples: Google’s user-friendly search interface & Canva’s easy-to-use online design tool for everyone.
  • Establishing a sense of community. Examples: Peloton’s interactive workout classes & Reddit’s interactive platform to discuss content.
  • Ensuring easy accessibility through technology. Examples: Spotify’s streaming service. & Robinhood’s stock trading platform.
  • Personalizing offerings to individual needs. Examples: Birchbox’s personalized beauty samples & MyFitnessPal’s personalized nutrition and exercise tracking app.

👉 They have a strong point of view

They have a strong way of thinking. Disruptive brands are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. They have clear values and connect deeply with their customers, building a loyal following. They take bold approaches, even if it means taking risks or going against the norm. They constantly try new things and push their limits to create amazing products, services, and experiences.

These brands have unique business models that challenge the old ways. For example, Uber changed the taxi industry by letting people book rides through an app, and Airbnb changed the hotel industry by letting people rent out their homes.

Transparency is a big part of their business models. They are open about how they operate and make their products. For instance, Honest Company offers eco-friendly products, and Toms Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.

👉 More than just profit

Disruptive brands go beyond just making money. They are known for more than their products. Uber, for example, ensures travel security and initiates societal lifestyle changes. Netflix serves as a platform for budding creators, fostering productivity and talent without dependence on big production houses.

These brands also make social and environmental impacts through their business models. TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased, while Warby Parker adopts a “buy a pair, give a pair” approach with glasses.

Sustainability is a key focus. Patagonia emphasizes ethical production and sustainability in the outdoor clothing industry. Tesla’s electric vehicles have a lower environmental impact than traditional cars, translating idealistic wishes into distinct actions.

Building Disruptive Brand with a Disruptive Marketing Campaign!

Disruptive brands don’t just change the industry, they change the game. They’re fearless, constantly evolving, and always on the lookout for new opportunities to reach their customers. Whether it be introducing a new product, or reinventing an existing product, if you want to build a disruptive brand, you need to be authentic, transparent, and always on the lookout for new ways to reach your customers.

Here is what you need to start a campaign to build a disruptive brand:

1️⃣ Understand your industry and study the market

understanding your industry

Source: iime

To create something that is truly disruptive, you need to have a firm understanding of the industry and market you’re entering. This means studying the competition, understanding the needs of your target audience, and having a clear vision for what your brand will offer that is different from anything else out there.

For example, when Airbnb was first starting out, they took the time to understand the hotel industry and formulate a business model that would be truly disruptive to the status quo. They did this by studying the needs of their target audience (budget-conscious travelers) and offering a unique solution (short-term rentals in private homes) that met those needs in a more affordable and convenient way than traditional hotels.

2️⃣ Understand your customers or target audience

Understanding your target audience

Source: wbcomdesigns

Know your audience, be innovative. Disruptive brands are masters at identifying unmet needs and crafting unique solutions that revolutionize the market. Take Lego Ideas, for example, where fans can submit their own design ideas for new Lego sets. By staying connected with their target audience, Lego understands what their customers want and can develop exciting products based on their desires.

Similarly, subscription-based companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Dollar Shave Club have soared to success by understanding their customers’ needs and delivering convenient, user-friendly solutions. Stay tuned to your customers, listen to their feedback, and let it fuel your disruptive journey. Embrace the power of innovation and make a lasting impact in your industry.

3️⃣ Be authentic and transparent

Brand authenticity and transparency

Source: Fabrik Brands

Disruptive brands are built on the pillars of authenticity and transparency. To win the trust of your audience, it’s crucial to be honest about who you are and what you offer. But remember, transformation should be meaningful and valuable to consumers; otherwise, it loses its impact.

Let’s take Airbnb as an example. When they started, they revolutionized the way people found accommodations. It was all about discovering unique, personal, and budget-friendly options beyond traditional hotels. But they didn’t stop there. Over time, they expanded their platform to offer a complete travel experience. Now, Airbnb provides not just lodging but also curated recommendations, booking experiences, and activities, making every trip unforgettable.

4️⃣ Identifying pain points 

Once you have a good grasp of the market, it’s time to find those gaps that need filling. Look for problems or needs that haven’t been addressed yet. This is your chance to shake things up and disrupt the status quo.

Take Uber as an example. They noticed that people were tired of the limited choices and expensive fares of traditional taxis. So, they came up with a brilliant idea: a more affordable and convenient alternative. By doing so, they completely transformed the way people move around in cities.

Being a disruptive brand means finding those untapped opportunities and offering innovative solutions that make a real impact. It’s about thinking differently and changing the game for the better.

5️⃣ Define your brand and values

Brand values

Source: Fabrik Brands

Once you’ve got a handle on your industry and who you’re targeting, it’s time to give your brand a distinct identity. What sets you apart from the competition? What’s your secret sauce?

Take a moment to reflect on the core values that drive your business. What do you truly believe in? These values will shape your brand’s positioning and how you connect with your customers. The key is to stay fresh and in tune with what matters most.

Consider the case of Uber. When they burst onto the scene, they positioned themselves as a game-changer, offering an affordable and hassle-free alternative to traditional taxis. People were tired of the same old routine, and Uber understood that.

There are plenty of other values you can explore too, like innovation, sustainability, or top-notch customer service. The key is to find what resonates with your audience and make it a cornerstone of your brand.

6️⃣ Develop a marketing strategy

Marketing startegy

Source: Straymediagroup

Now that you know your brand and customers better, let’s dive into the exciting world of marketing your business! It’s time to think about the creative ways you can connect with your target market.

There’s a treasure trove of marketing channels to explore, including:

📱 Social media: Engage and captivate your audience through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.

📧 Email marketing: Craft compelling messages and build relationships with your customers directly in their inboxes.

📝 Content marketing: Share valuable and informative content, such as blogs, videos, and guides, to establish your expertise and attract your audience.

💰 Paid advertising: Boost your reach and visibility with strategic online advertisements across various platforms.

The key is to select the channels that align best with your business and budget. Consider your unique goals and resources. For instance, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn might be your secret weapon, while B2C businesses could find success on vibrant platforms like Facebook.

7️⃣ Breach the boundaries

Don’t confine your content to the same old industry trends. Be bold, be unique, and dare to be different. That’s how you catch people’s attention and leave your competition in the dust. A disruptive brand knows the rules of the game but isn’t afraid to break them and create a whole new playbook.

Take the Dollar Shave Club as an example. Their viral video wasn’t just about shaving—it was a statement about their unparalleled approach in a crowded market. They shook things up and showed the world that they were unlike anything that came before.

8️⃣ Be passionate:

When you’re truly passionate about something, it shines through. It’s like a contagious spark that attracts people towards your positive energy. If you want to be a disruptive brand, that passion needs to fuel your business and resonate with others.

Let’s take the founders of Warby Parker as an inspiring example. They were driven by their passion to make trendy eyewear accessible and affordable. They turned the industry on its head by offering top-notch glasses online at a fraction of the cost you’d find in traditional stores.

Top 15 Disruptive Brands

Here are some popular brand disruptors examples:

10 characteristics of disruptive brands

Source: media.licdn.com

Tesla

Tesla Disruptive brand

Tesla is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California. They are headed by Elon Musk. Tesla’s mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

➡️ What makes Tesla disruptive?

Tesla has completely changed the way we think about electric cars. They have made them luxurious, fast, and practical.

Netflix

Netflix- Disruptive barnd

Netflix is an American entertainment company founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in 1997. They offer an online streaming service, as well as DVDs and Blu-rays by mail.

➡️ What makes Netflix disruptive?

Netflix has disrupted the traditional TV and movie industry by offering a cheaper, more convenient alternative. They have also produced their own content, which has been very successful.

Airbnb

Airbnb logo

Source: economictimes.com

Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people who need a place to stay with people who need to rent out extra space. Needless to say, they have been a controversial company because they have disrupted the age-old practices of the hotel industry, not to mention changing the whole face of travel and stay.

➡️ What makes Airbnb disruptive?

Airbnb has disrupted the hotel industry by offering a cheaper, more convenient alternative for travelers. They have also been criticized for not following the same regulations as hotels.

Smarter

Smarter

Smarter is a UK-based company that has brought the industry innovation of IoT to the consumer marketplace. They make a line of connected kitchen appliances. Their products include the Smarter Coffee machine and the Smarter Fridge Cam.

➡️ What makes Smarter disruptive?

Smarter has made it possible to control your kitchen appliances from your smartphone. They have also made it possible to order groceries directly from your fridge.

Uber

Uber- Disruptive brands

Uber is a transportation network company that was founded in 2009. They use an app to connect riders with drivers.

➡️ What makes Uber disruptive?

Uber has disrupted the traditional taxi industry by offering a cheaper, more convenient alternative. They have also expanded into other areas, such as food delivery and freight.

Purple

Purple Logo

Purple is a mattress company that was founded in 2015. They offer top-of-the line high-tech mattresses that are designed to offer the best-in-class spinal support at a price that everyone can afford. They offer a 100-night trial and free shipping.

➡️ What makes Purple disruptive?

Purple has disrupted the mattress industry by offering a cheaper, more convenient alternative. They have also been criticized for their business practices. They opted out of selling to retailers and instead chose a direct-to-consumer model, which allows you to avoid distributors, wholesalers, and retailer markups.

Apple

Apple Disruptive Brand

Apple is best known for their line of consumer electronics, including the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

➡️ What makes Apple disruptive?

Apple has disrupted the technology industry by introducing innovative products that have changed the way we live and work. They have also been criticized for their business practices, including their use of proprietary software and closed platforms.

Facebook

Meta Company

Facebook, a social networking service founded in 2004,  allows users to connect with friends and family, share photos and experiences, and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world.

➡️ What makes Facebook disruptive?

Facebook has disrupted the social media industry by becoming the largest and most popular social networking platform. They have also been criticized for their business practices, including their use of user data.

ZhongAn

ZhongAn- Disruptive Brand

ZhongAn, an online insurance company, founded in 2013, offers a variety of insurance products specifically for the Chinese market.

➡️ What makes ZhongAn disruptive?

ZhongAn has disrupted the insurance industry by becoming the first online insurance company in China. They have also been praised for their use of technology, which allows them to offer a variety of innovative products and services. They offer you insurance against activities that have become frequent and normal in your life like returning a product you bought online or replacing your phone if you have an accident.

Amazon

Amazon- Disruptive Brand

Started by Jeff Bezos, they are one of the most disruptive brands out there. They are an online store for basically everything.

➡️ What makes Amazon disruptive?

They are a one-stop online platform for all our retail products—from lawnmowers to even cars.

Aldi

Aldi- Disruptive Brand

As a German company that is a low-cost supermarket chain, they offer a no-frills experience and have made a name for itself by offering affordable prices.

➡️ What makes Aldi disruptive?

They offer a no-frills experience and have made a name for themselves by offering affordable prices. This disrupts the traditional supermarket experience by providing a more affordable option.

Nike

Nike- Disruptive Brand

This is a multinational corporation that is a major player in the athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment industry.

➡️ What makes Nike disruptive?

Nike is a major player in the athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment industry. This disrupts the traditional athletic wear industry by providing a more affordable option.

Virgin

Virgin- Disruptive Brand

A United Kingdom-based conglomerate founded by Sir Richard Branson and they offer services all the way from air travel to entertainment.

➡️ What makes Virgin disruptive?

They dip their toes in a variety of industries with an innovative set goal. Upon achieve it, they move on to the next one. This repetitive process has been known to repeatedly break industry norms.

Google

Google-Disruptive Brand

As an American multinational technology company, they offer a variety of services such as advertising, software, and hardware.

➡️ What makes Google disruptive?

Just Google it. The company name has become an adjective, referring to the act of searching for something you don’t know about. This should tell you about the extent to which Google has disrupted the way we used to live.

IBM

IBM- Disruptive Brand

As American multinational technology company, they offer a variety of services such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.

➡️ What makes IBM disruptive?

IBM, formerly known for its mainframe computers and large enterprise software systems, have shifted their focus to artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. This shift has made them a much more relevant and disruptive company in the tech industry.

Conclusion

A disruptive brand is simply one that challenges the status quo. It doesn’t just do things differently, it changes the entire game. In a world of constant change, disruptive brands are the change-makers. They innovate, rebel, and break down barriers.

As consumers, disruptive brands significantly impact our way of life and work. For businesses, being disruptive ensures relevance and growth. It brings progress to our communities and enhances our experiences.

We are a branding agency that specializes in working with disruptive brands. We understand the power of disruption and how to utilize it for good. We also assist brands with the potential to be disruptive, helping them discover and achieve their disruptive potential. If you want to learn more about becoming a disruptive brand or how we can assist you, contact Pixel Street today. We’re excited to discuss your branding goals and how we can help you attain them.

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Khurshid Alam
Founder

Khurshid Alam is the founder of Pixel Street, a web design company. He aspires to solve business problems by communicating effectively digitally. In his leisure, he reads, writes, and occasionally plays a game of table tennis.

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