“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

In many ways, disruptive brands are the very embodiment of this statement and ideal. The concept of seeing the world through your unique perception and having the courage to find a way to make others see what you see through your innovative technological solutions is the very essence of disruptive innovation and disruptive brands.

Oxford dictionary defines disruption as a “radical change to an existing industry or market due to technological innovation.” Pioneering disruptive brands like Uber and Musical.ly have accurately identified gaps in the market where the customer demand could potentially be high, yet there was no move toward a supply. They accurately identified this problem and came up with an innovative solution to effect this change.

While these companies have disrupted their respective industries, they have also managed to create a brand that people can trust and feel loyal to. In order to achieve this level of success, it is essential to first understand what your potential customers are looking for and then be able to provide them with a solution that meets their needs.

What makes a disruptive brand stand out?

IBM is one of the frontrunners for disruptive branding

Source: Fabrik Brands

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

-Bernard Kelvin Cline

The absolute telltale characteristic of a disruptive brand is a bringing change. Whether it is in the field of technology, lifestyle, fashion, etc., regardless of industry, as a consumer, disruptive brands compel you to pay attention because their product or service is one that has the potential to bring about a new way of doing things.

“The customer is always right” is the common motto of all disruptive brands. While this is redundant, often overused, cliche statement, it is the sublimation of a pretty profound ideal, one that expresses a brand’s determination to identify pain points or requirements that even consumers may not even be aware of as yet. This could be letting your creativity guide you to innovate a never-before seen technology or trend, or identifying gaps in the market where you can service a particular pain point, or even if developing a new way of performing an existing task or service Any of the above ways have been the markers of so many disruptive brands in the world today.

For instance:

  • Microsoft introduced computers to the common man and made a system that even a layman can use and operate. There is no need tp elaborate on the impact of thuis, as evidenced by the fact that most computers even today run on Microsoft’s operating system.
  • Apple disrupted the tech industry by creating user-friendly, stylish products that appealed to non-tech savvy consumers as well as professionals. Apple products are literally in every corner of the world and used across every industry known to man.
  • Netflix identified a gap in the market for on-demand streaming services and filled it with their own highly customized service. This brought OTT platforms to the forefront and made it much more easier for people to have access to this content.
  • Uber identified a gap in transportation and created an app that allowed people to access transportation wherever they are at all times of the day or night.

Qualities of a disruptive brand?

A graphical look at the relationship between disruptive brands and their audiences

Source: Viima.com

By nature, disruptive brands are those that aim to break the mold, disrupt stagnancy and ignite change, and, most importantly, understand the people’s needs and wants. Some of the most successful brands today started out as disruptive brands. They had a clear mission and vision, and they were not afraid to challenge the status quo. In many ways, these brands defined themselves by their ability to stand out from the crowd and offer something different. Disruptiveness exists because these brands place their customers at the heart of their thinking. This includes their product developments, customer care services, and overall marketing strategies. Unlike traditional companies that tend to focus on their own objectives and goals, disruptive brands always have their customers’ exclusive interests in mind.

Let us list down those qualities that make a disruptive brand stand out:

They are innovative

Disruptive Brands are innovative

Source: Jingdaily

A disruptive brand is one that constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible with new and unique products or services. Examples include Tesla, which disrupted the automotive industry with their electric cars, and Netflix, which disrupted the entertainment industry with their streaming service.

Additionally, they believe in continuously evolving and adapting to changing market conditions, customer needs and industry trends. Examples include Netflix, which disrupted the entertainment industry by evolving from a DVD rental service to a streaming service, and Tesla, which disrupted the automotive industry by evolving from electric cars to solar energy, energy storage, and semi-autonomous driving.

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

Audiences resonating with brands

Disruptive brands always know how to stay relevant to their target audience and are laser-focused on their customers. They are in tune with the latest trends and understand the needs of their customers in ways that traditional brands have not. . This allows them to build a strong relationship with their customers and create a loyal following. They also accurately notice gaps in the market where there is a scope to provide a solution to something, allowing them to produce products or services that are truly valuable to their customers.

They do this is by:
  • Creating a compelling and authentic brand story that truly resonates with their target audience. Examples include Coca-Cola, which disrupted the soft-drink industry by creating a brand story that emphasizes happiness and togetherness, and Apple, which disrupted the tech industry by creating a brand story that emphasizes innovation and creativity.
  • Prioritizing user experience and making their products or services easy to use and understand. Examples include Google, which disrupted the search engine industry by providing a user-friendly interface that made it easy for people to find the information they were looking for, and Canva, which disrupted the graphic design industry by providing an easy-to-use online design tool for people of all skill levels.
  • Establishing a sense of community around its products or services. Examples include Peloton, which disrupted the fitness industry by creating a community of users who can interact and motivate each other through its interactive workout classes, and Reddit, which disrupted the social media industry by creating a community of users who can share and discuss content on a wide range of topics.

Moreover, disruptive brands make sure their core offering (i.e., their products or services) is:

  • Easily accessible to a wider audience, often through the use of technology.Examples include Spotify, which disrupted the music industry by providing a streaming service that made it easy for people to listen to their favorite music, and Robinhood, which disrupted the stock trading industry by making it easy for anyone to buy and sell stocks.
  • Personalized to the individual needs of its customers. Examples include Birchbox, which disrupted the beauty industry by offering a subscription-based service that sends customers personalized samples of beauty products, and MyFitnessPal, which disrupted the fitness industry by providing a personalized nutrition and exercise tracking app.

Examples include Amazon, which disrupted the retail industry by providing customers with a convenient and easy-to-use online shopping experience, and Warby Parker, which disrupted the eyewear industry by offering customers a wide selection of stylish and affordable glasses.

They have a strong point of view

A unique point of view is crucial in branding

Source: Buffer

Disruptive brands are not afraid to have a strong point of view. They are conviction-driven and have a clear set of values that they stand for. This allows them to connect with their customers on a deeper level and create a loyal following. Additionally, because of the nature of their offering, they are quite radical in their approach irrespective of the market, competitors, or even popularity. This means they are not afraid to take risks. This is seen as they are constantly experimenting and pushing themselves to the limit, allowing them to create new products, services, and experiences that can delight their customers.

These brands often have a business model that challenges traditional business models and creates new ones. Examples include Uber, which disrupted the taxi industry by connecting riders with drivers through a mobile app, and Airbnb, which disrupted the hotel industry by allowing people to rent out their homes as vacation rentals.

A very big part of these business models is transparency. That means being open about its operations, production methods, and business practices. Examples include Honest Company, which disrupted the personal care and cleaning product industry by offering all-natural, eco-friendly products, and Toms Shoes, which disrupted the shoe industry by implementing a “one for one” model where they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.

More than just profit

Disruptive Brands are about more than just profit

Source: Medium

More than just profit is not just a catchphrase or a naive idealism. A disruptive brand is truly complete when they are synonymous with more than just what they are just selling. For instance, Uber is about more than convenience, they have created greater security for travel and initiated a lifestyle change in society or  Netflix that created not just a platform where you can view movies and tv shows but where budding creators can have an opportunity to being their concepts to life without being dependent on big production house, ushering in new productivity and talent.

Disruptive could even bring about social and environmental impact through their business model. Examples include TOMS, which disrupted the shoe industry by implementing a “one for one” model where they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased, and Warby Parker, which disrupted the eyewear industry by implementing a “buy a pair, give a pair” model where they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased.

Sustainability is also a talked-about point with brands like Patagonia, which disrupted the outdoor clothing industry by emphasizing sustainability and ethical production, and Tesla, which disrupted the automotive industry by producing electric vehicles that have a lower environmental impact than traditional gasoline-powered cars, translating idealistic wishes to a very dinstinct line of action.

How You Can Build A 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:

Understand your industry and study the market

understanding your industry is vital for a disruptive brand to make an impression in their audiences.

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.

Understand your customers or target audience

Understanding your target audience is vital to appeal to them

Source: wbcomdesigns

One of the most important aspects of any business is understanding who your target audience is and what they want or need. In order to create a disruptive brand, you need to be able to identify unmet needs or desires within your target market and develop a solution that meets those needs in a new or innovative way. The entire disruptive process hinges on knowing your customers and understanding their needs or wants. An excellent way to do this is always keeping up with and studying customer feedback.

For example, Lego Ideas is a platform that allows Lego fans to submit their own design ideas for new Lego sets. If a design idea gets 10,000 votes, then Lego will review the idea and potentially put it into production. This is an excellent way for Lego to stay connected with its target audience, understand what they want, and develop new products based on those wants.

Another example is the recent trend of subscription-based companies. This business model has been popularized by companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Dollar Shave Club. The key to these companies’ success is understanding their customers’ needs and providing a solution that is convenient and easy to use.

Be authentic and transparent

Being transparent is crucial in today's world in order to gain your audience's trust

Source: Fabrik Brands

Disruptive brands are usually built on a foundation of authenticity and transparency. In order to gain the trust of your target audience, you need to be honest about who you are and what you do. Transformation follows disruption. However, this should be relevant and of value to consumers, otherwise, it doesn’t mean much.

For example, when Airbnb first started, it was a way for people to find unique lodging options that were more personal and affordable than traditional hotels. Now, Airbnb is a platform that offers travelers an end-to-end experience, from finding a place to stay and getting recommendations for things to do in their destination, to booking experiences and activities.

Identifying pain points 

Once you understand the market, you need to identify a problem or need that isn’t being met. This is where you can start to think about how you can disrupt the status quo. Disruptive brands have made their mark on society by keenly identifying these gaps in the market where they can put forward a viable solution and make an impact.

For example, a disruptive brand like Uber saw that people were frustrated with the lack of options and high costs of traditional taxi services. They disrupted the market by offering a more affordable and convenient alternative.

Define your brand and values

Brand Values are crucial in establishing a foundation for your disruptive brand

Source: Fabrik Brands

Once you have a clear understanding of your industry and target market, you need to define your brand. What makes you different? What is your unique selling proposition?

Think about the values that drive your business. What do you believe in? These values will shape how you position your brand and connect with your consumers. The key here is to stay relevant.

For example, when Uber first launched, they positioned themselves as a more affordable and convenient alternative to traditional taxi services. This resonated with consumers who were frustrated with the status quo.

Some other values that businesses might consider are: innovation, sustainability, customer service, etc.

Develop a marketing strategy

An efficient marketing strategy ensures you reach your target audience

Source: Straymediagroup

Now that you have a better understanding of your brand and your consumers, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to market your business. You need to consider what channels will work best for you in order to reach your target market.

There are a number of marketing channels available, including:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Paid advertising

It’s important to consider which channels will work best for your business and your budget. You may not have the resources to invest in all of them, so it’s important to choose wisely.

For example, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may be a better platform for you than Twitter. And if you’re a B2C company, Facebook might be a better option.

Breach the boundaries

Do not limit your content to only what’s popular in your industry. Instead, try to be different and stand out from the rest. This will help you attract attention and stand out from the competition. A disruptive brand understands the existing rules of the industry, breaks them, and then helps redefine a new set of rules.

For example, Dollar Shave Club’s famous video that went viral was not about shaving. It was about how the company is different from the existing players in the market.

Be passionate:

When you’re passionate about something, it shows. It’s also infectious, and people are drawn to that positivity. A disruptive brand need to be passionate about your business if you want others to invest their time and money into it.

For example, the founders of Warby Parker were passionate about making stylish eyewear more accessible and affordable. They disrupted the market by selling high-quality glasses online at a fraction of the price of traditional retailers.

Top 15 Disruptive Brands

Here is our list of our Top 15 disruptive brands:

Tesla

Tesla logo

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 them disruptive?

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

Netflix

Netflix Logo

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 them 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

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

What makes them 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 them 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 Logo

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

What makes them 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

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 them 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 Insurance Logo

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

What makes them 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 Logo

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

What makes disruptive?

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

Aldi

Aldi Logo

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 them 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 brand

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

What makes them 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

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

What makes them 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 Logo

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

What makes them 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

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

What makes them 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, quite simply, a brand that challenges the status quo. These brands don’t just come along and do things differently – they come along and change the game entirely. In this rapidly changing world, the one thing that remains constant is change itself. Disruptive brands are change-makers. They are the innovators, the rebels, the ones who challenge norms and break down barriers.

As a consumer, disruptive brands are a major reason for every wonderful turn in means and standards of living and working. As a business, being disruptive keeps you relevant and growing. It brings progress to our communities and enhances our experiences

As for us, we are a branding agency that loves working extensively with disruptive brands. We understand what it means to be disruptive and we know how to harness that power for good. We also know how to help brands that may not be disruptive by nature, but have the potential to be, find and achieve their disruptive potential. If you want to learn more about how to be a disruptive brand, or how we can help you become one, contact Pixel Street today. We would be more than happy to chat with you about your branding goals and how we can help you achieve 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.