- January
Posted By : Simon Williams
Can You Name Some Powerful Underdogs?

Brands that Punch Above Their Weight

I’ve now heard this phrase several times over the past few months and decided to do a little detective work on the topic over the holidays. And talking to family, friends and people in the know, it is quite clear that, when asked, almost everyone can come up with

their 3-4 nominations for brands that fit this description. And as you will see later, the list includes some very attractive brand names.

Defining What We Mean

For a brand to punch above its weight, it must have a disproportionately higher awareness, reputation and/or chatter-factor relative to its actual size and share of market.

Some of the Brands that Qualify

In alphabetical order, they include:


Isolating the Unifying Elements

Individually, every one of these brands has extra-ordinary strength and appeal in its own right but the more intriguing issue centers around what unifying attributes link them all together. From my assessment, there are 6 common themes:

  1. Heavy on authenticity: all of the brands have real history and heritage that help create a deep sense of authenticity and genuineness that pervades everything about the brand.
  2. Culture-influencing: these brands have all managed to influence and shape modern-day culture despite several operating in functional categories such as cleaning and technology
  3. Mission-driven: these brands all have a palpable sense of mission about them – a mission that guides and inspires both their organization as well as their customers. Many have a very proactive social responsibility stance
  4. Product innovators: all of these brands disrupted the status quo with their game-changing product and in the process brought us a something new and different
  5. Cult following: all of these brands have a large and vocal band of followers who believe in the brand, promote the brand and participate increasingly in building the brand
  6. Innate style: in some instances, this is brought to life through a retail experience but in every case, there is something inherently stylish about the brand and the product

As I think through this list of brands, I am sure ‘punching above our weight” was never the initial intent of any of them as they set out on their brand-life. But whatever their purpose, all have arrived at a similar sort of place – most of them interestingly without the help of big traditional advertising campaigns.

What strikes me about this attractive group of brands more than anything else is the fact that they have an intuitive understanding about the need to be distinctive – whether it be in attitude, in product performance, in experience, in occasion or in design. Seems to me therefore that the leaders of all of these companies, either instinctively or professionally, realized the value of positioning in creating and managing a desirable and successful brand.

The fact that they are not financial giants and don’t appear on the top 100 brand list doesn’t matter – they should still be the inspiration for many who do…they are that good!!



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