• Brand Strategy
  • Branding

When brands fight back: How to counter a rival brand attack in style


  • Brand Strategy
  • Branding

Whatever your business, whether it’s consumer-facing brands or b2b client work, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and getting an edge over the competition is essential. But what happens when the competition plays dirty?


We were recently approached by a business whose nearest rival had started a digital campaign against them, ensuring anyone who searched for the business online would find derogatory results, detailing why the rival company was apparently better. Borderline illegal? Perhaps. Immediate action required? Definitely.

While not a million miles away from the M&S and Aldi Colin vs Cuthbert conundrum, we thought it was time to put together a 101 on how to fight back when a rival isn’t playing fair.

When you’re in a position like this the temptation is to lie low, keep quiet and essentially hope it all goes away. But is that the right thing to do? Absolutely not. Doing nothing shows weakness – or at least vulnerability – and implies to customers and staff that you don’t care. It delays any action that’s needed to get back your edge, and quite aside from being bad for team morale it could seriously jeopardise your reputation long term.

We hope you won’t need this but, in the event, you need to fight back in style, here is Curious’s five-step guide to combating rival brand attacks

1. Change the conversation

If the competition goes for your ‘weak spot’, flip the conversation and redirect people’s attention to your areas of strength. Laying down the gauntlet on your terms will give you the power. Pursue the competitor on these points single-mindedly and call out any diversion tactics as an inability to respond. You can do this with humour, you can do it with humility or you can do it with candour. The key thing is that it gets done.

2. Fight fire with the facts

If the competition attacks with supposed “proof”, then you’d be wise to put it under a magnifying glass. Now is the time to bring in your own specialists and create a counter-attack. Pick holes in their points, uncover their mistruths and exhibit their naivety. It’s important to stay calm and take them apart in an ice cold fashion.

3. Listen and learn

Take note and acknowledge that the area of the business that’s under fire is potentially falling short. This is in fact the perfect moment to take a step back, re-evaluate the business’ offering/position in the market and regroup. From here it’s about developing these problem areas and turning them into strengths that can be publicised and offered to consumers.

4. Remind the world

To be in a position where rival brands need to take a swipe means you must have been doing something right. Remember what makes your brand great and remind the world about it. Communicate with potential customers why you’re such an important asset, whilst reaching out to your current customers to remind them about what you’ve done for them and the industry so far.

5. Prioritise digital

The world is digital at its core. And as consumers increasingly spend more of their lives online, it will become a key battleground for brands. There are two key opportunities to enhance your brand on digital. The first is to embrace social media and form a content strategy to help educate, entertain and engage consumers. The second is to improve UX design to create a truly seamless online experience for users; making them fall in love with your platform and keep coming back for more.

Even the most basic psychology will tell you that if you come under fire from a competitor then they feel threatened by you. Keep this in mind at all times and while it’s crucial you don’t sink to their level, your response will shape how strongly you come out of the encounter.


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