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Grit: Why Challenger Brands Win

Greatness is in the Grit: Why Challenger Brands Win

Marketing, Branding, Strategy 07.04.22Reading Time 6 minutes

You’ve undoubtedly heard countless stories of successes that rose from the brink of failure. In pop culture, Lizzo famously lived in her car as she hustled to achieve her big break. Sylvester Stallone turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rights to produce Rocky because he was determined to star in the film himself, even at a fraction of the payout. JK Rowling was rejected by twelve different publishers before finding a home for her wildly successful Harry Potter series.

But in the midst of rejection, hardship and sacrifice, all of these individuals achieved great success through grit and determination. They didn’t rely on fate to hand it to them; they made it happen. In “’Mamba Mentality‘ legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant wrote “Hard work outweighs talent every time… Without studying, preparation and practice, you’re leaving the outcome to fate. I don’t do fate.”

Individual success stories like these are inspirational, but we’re even more interested in how this drive and determination drives results in the business world. Businesses can’t grow or thrive based on the sole determination of single individuals. As a gritty creative agency, we feel this innately in our DNA, and we recognize it in many of the awesome challenger brands we work with, but how do we describe it?

How Do Businesses Get Gritty?

Research psychologist Angela Duckworth is the leading expert on grit; her book and subsequent TedTalk on the topic are credited with popularizing the use of the term for analyzing performance. After studying a broad range of people and organizations ranging from Ivy League schools to baseball teams, her research revealed a simple truth: no amount of intelligence will help you if you give up.

Duckworth spoke with Forbes and listed five foundational characteristics of grittiness. Here’s how we at the Gigasavvy creative agency translate them to the business environment:

1. Courage to Try Something New

Trying new things is scary. Trying things that you know are slightly out of your current capabilities is too. Gritty companies push that fear aside, manage it effectively, and decide they are more afraid of never trying than they are of trying and failing.

This kind of courage to try something new was how one of our clients, Flame Broiler, got their start. Their brand was born out of a passion for food and a love of the diversity that food culture in America has to offer. Each step of the way, as challenges came along, Flame Broiler had the courage to step forward — into the first restaurant, into expansion, into franchising, and then into building a platform for future growth based on brand strategy development and multi-channel media.

2. Achievement-Oriented Conscientiousness

When the going gets tough, gritty companies don’t waste time looking for someone to blame, making excuses, or ignoring the problem. Rather, they focus on making smart choices and work tirelessly, creating new solutions, solving new problems and doing whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

That was the case when start-up PetIQ set out to bring vertically integrated pet products and services into the market. Gaining a foothold in the space and earning the attention and shelf space across big box retailer locations required constant commitment, ingenuity and determination. And with that, after five years of hard work and successful collaboration, Gigasavvy was thrilled to see PetIQ be rewarded by earning their spot on NASDAQ with a successful $155M IPO.

3. Persistent Endurance

There is a saying that anything worth having takes hard work. Often, it also takes a lot of time to see the fruits of that labor. Gritty companies have that kind of endurance – the patience, persistence and faith that it takes to stick to a winning strategy, rather than changing it from one business quarter to the next if the P&L is not promising. They accept that getting where they need to go will require risk, sacrifice and time.

3 Day Blinds exemplifies this. After decades of delivering beautiful windows without ever wavering in product and service quality, they became the dominant brand in the space. We’ve been honored to be a part of leveraging their commitment to who they are as a brand to challenge competitors in new markets — setting them up for limitless growth, framing the memories of families across America.

4. Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Futurist Andrew Zolli wrote a book about resilience, which he defines as: “The ability of people, communities, and systems to maintain their core purpose and integrity among unforeseen shocks and surprises.” Businesses with a sense of resilience see obstacles and complications as opportunities to learn and grow.

When our client Vertis set out to create a reliable green growing operation, they discovered that the public electric and water systems were not going to be able to meet their needs. Rather than give up on their vision, they built a carbon neutral facility with their own power plant. The project had many twists and turns along the way, but the company adopted an agile mindset — continually pivoting, finding solutions and using what they learned to deliver a better product for their clients and for our environment.

5. Commitment to Excellence

Where perfection is an endgame, excellence is a mindset. Gritty companies inherently understand this and commit themselves to excellence in all that they do, knowing that each decision and each action matters in generating results.

We witnessed this with Brandini Toffee, which started when the high school aged founders decided to use a family recipe to make and sell toffee to earn funds for a trip to Europe. Seeing how warmly it was received, they turned it into a permanent business, and came to us to help tell their story — how they stick to their principles and hand craft their toffee with only the finest quality ingredients, even if factory shortcuts and lower quality ingredients are faster and less expensive — because they care about doing it right and giving their customers the best.

At Gigasavvy, we have so many of these stories to tell. With our reputation for representing challenger brands, we’ve been called on to help many clients achieve big goals amidst big challenges. We understand where all of these brands come from because we’re pretty gritty ourselves. When the pressure is on and our expertise is needed, we throw ourselves fully in, taking care to be both strategic and meticulous in our executions to get the work done right and to give ourselves and our clients the best chance for success.

If you’ve got grit, Gigasavvy wants to know you. Our brand strategy, video content development and creative teams are ready to help you share your story. Contact us to get started.


Melissa Zarb