Book review: Overthrow

It’s been nine years since Adam Morgan’s last book on challenger brands, ‘The Pirate Inside’. In the long-awaited follow-up ‘Overthrow’, Morgan, in collaboration with media communications agency phd, offers further exposition on the nature of challenger brands.
Morgan’s two previous books ably introduced the challenger brand concept. In ‘Overthrow’ Morgan takes this concept further, identifying ten distinct Challenger types including ‘The People’s Champion’, ‘The Feisty Underdog’ and ‘The Irreverent Maverick’ (see the accompanying website challengertype.com).
The book centres on a series of in-depth interviews with a number of challenger brands from around the globe. Rather than retro fitting a challenger brand type onto the usual ‘hero’ marques (Apple, Innocent) some of the brands featured may be unfamiliar to the reader – companies such as South Africa’s Kulula Airlines, wellness electronics company Lark and Welsh jeans manufacturer Hiut Denim.
The inclusion of these fresh voices brings the concept of challenger brands alive - although at times you may struggle to determine a genuine point-of-difference between the challenger types identified. Nevertheless, the book contains genuine insight into the nature of brands.
The popularity of Morgan’s previous books is proof that the challenger message has resonated within many organisations. However, I suspect that many will have struggled to apply the philosophy in practice. Thankfully the practical media planning and social marketing advice that accompanies each challenger type will prove helpful in real-life deployment.
But where I suspect this book will prove most valuable is in deepening our understanding of the nature of brands in a wider sense. Far too many brand personality statements contain tired, often-contradictory rhetoric. By referring to this work, brand managers will be able to plot a course for their brands in a consistent way that will be better understood by others.
I recommend this book to anyone who has struggled to apply the challenger spirit to their brands, culture and organisation.

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