The one-sentence summary

Ignore what you have done before, decide on something distinctive to do, and do that one thing with full commitment.


  • FISHMost marketing books are written about brand leaders, but most marketing people don’t work on brand leaders
  • These challenger brands need to behave differently if they are to compete with brand leaders – effectively doing more with less
  • There are eight credos:

1. Break with your immediate past (forget everything you know and think again)

2. Build a lighthouse identity (state what you are – don’t reflect consumers)

3. Assume thought leadership of category (the one everyone talks about)

4. Create symbols of re-evaluation (do the unexpected)

5. Sacrifice (work out what you are not going to do)

6. Overcommitment (Karate experts aim two feet below the brick to break it)

7. Use advertising/publicity to enter popular culture

8. Become ideas-centred, not consumer-centred (constantly re-invent)


  • It concentrates on practical things that most brands can do
  • It tells you how to run a workshop and apply the thinking with a client
  • Most of the credos can be used to overcome client inertia
  • It can help small, under-resourced marketing teams to mobilise big ideas
  • Brand leaders can benefit from thinking like a challenger to stay number one


  • It is easy to go round talking about “creating a lighthouse identity” (and other phrases) without actually saying anything
  • Some of the ideas are easier said than done
  • Credo number 7 is easy to criticise because you would expect a communications expert to recommend activity – it might help if you point this out first and raise the idea of discounting it before the client