That is the theme of a forthcoming article in the Journal of Consumer Research: ‘The Underdog Effect’.

In the article, HBS professor Anat Keinan and colleagues explain how and why a ‘brand biography’ about hard luck and fierce determination can boost the power of products in industries as diverse as food and beverages, technology, airlines, and automobiles.

Despite psychological research showing that people want to associate themselves with winners (and therefore with winning brands), Keinan was interested to see increasing numbers of brands trying to position themselves as an underdog, i.e. the one expected to lose.

It seems that when times are tough, people are more willing to relate to and support those who’s passion, determination and perseverance have helped them to overcome adversity.

This is an interesting concept that can be easily translated into external, corporate and internal communication to help show a new level of understanding and empathy with stakeholders, and help draw them closer to the leaders, products and organisations we represent.

To find out more, read an interview with Anat Keinan
in HBS’s Working Knowledge newsletter >