An Summary by Adam Morgan
Pirate Inside A Summary
THE CORE IDEA Powerful brands – and particularly powerful Challenger Brands – are built by people. Not by proprietary methodologies, or by unique brand frameworks, but by people. In fact, for many of us getting the brand strategy right is the least of it - while we can all come up with smart strategies and creative thinking about how to drive our brand forward, the real issue is this: how do we need to behave in order to really drive the implications of that brand thinking through our organisation until it becomes real? When, all too often, the organisation’s systems and structures seem more geared to slowing and diluting, than spurring and galvanising our intent? The Pirate Inside looks at what it takes to be a Constructive Pirate: the personal qualities and behaviours required of an individual to be a successful Challenger, and in particular one that is trying to create breakthrough in a large, relatively conservative organisation. It argues that Constructive Piracy is not the same as anarchy – we are not arguing for ‘no rules’, but for a different set of rules: a different way of thinking and behaving that governs everything from where we look for insight, to the way we approve ideas, to how we deal with the word ‘No’ when we get it from above. Pirates in real life had their own binding ‘code’ of behaviours called The Articles, which every member of the crew had to sign before the ship would sail. The Pirate Inside proposes, in effect, what The Articles would look like for ourselves and key fellow team members as we try to drive our brand through the organisation with the intensity and originality and speed it needs.
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What DO we mean by pirate? A Pirate in our sense is someone (in particular an aspirant Challenger) who feels themselves in some way restricted or confined by the way the category or their company has historically done things, and needs to find a new way of thinking and acting about their brand in order to succeed. They are thus Pirates of necessity, not vanity Pirates – they are doing this because their brand needs it, not because they are looking to advance their own personal agenda. The Pirate Inside lays out the nine personal qualities and behaviours that are required of a necessary Brand Pirate. After exploring each of these, the book turns specifically to a study of Pirates who are already in the Navy – i.e. examples of vibrant challenger micro-cultures within large organisations – and looks at what we can learn from studies of legitimised success (and exemplary failure) of ‘pirate subcultures’ within such large, multibrand companies. It defines the underlying factors in success and failure for these brands and companies, and explores the larger benefits to the parent in supporting such subcultures. Finally we look at the separate phases of development leading to the emergence of the BSC – Big Smart Company. In the rest of this summary, we will use the words ‘Challenger’ and ‘Necessary Pirate’ more or less interchangeably.
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behaviours that stimulate challenger brand cultures Outlooking – A Different Kind of Insight Seeking There are two kinds of Insight a Pirate or Challenger individual needs to distinguish between: Insights that frame the problem and task (Reflective Insights), and Insights that identify where we might build the future (Insights of Opportunity). Outlooking is a way of describing how Necessary Pirates seem to find the latter, and is the first behaviour we need to bring out in ourselves and our team. The four principal means of Outlooking: 1. Emotional Insertion – Putting a new kind of emotion into the category. 2. Overlay – Overlaying the rules of a different category onto your own. 3. Brand Neighbourhoods – Radically reframing your competitive set. 4. Grip – Finding a place for the brand to gain traction in contemporary culture.
Pushing – A Different Kind of Approval The need to stand out and genuinely reframe the consumer’s perception of them or the category means that the team on a Challenger brand have to be prepared to ‘Push’ an emerging idea in order to make it powerful enough. Whether one needs to push because one is stuck (as Burberry needing to break out from being ‘a brand of conservative winter wear’), or because one is looking to find a way of making a potentially generic idea (like egg and customer service) genuinely motivating. Pushing represents a different kind of ‘approval’ of ideas emerging in the strategic process.
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Merely being a good idea that is on brief may not be sufficient our first questions should be ‘has it gone far enough? What would happen if we pushed it further?’
Projecting – A Different Kind of Consistency We all have far more media at our disposal than we think we do – we just haven’t seen it as media yet. But we need to use the potential power of each medium by thinking in terms of consistently ‘projecting’ our identity – evincing a strong sense of who we are and what we stand for – rather than simply relying on the more conventional concept of ‘messaging’. Powerful examples of this kind of Projection range from a service brand – Puccino’s, taking on Starbucks – to a chocolate bar (Yorkie).
Wrapping – A Different Kind of Communication Although we tend to think of the template of a successful brand as most usually defined by some combination of a ‘Positioning’, ‘Essence’ and ‘Personality’, in fact many of the most successful Challengers offer a more layered and differentiated culture that their consumer can participate in. As Necessary Pirates we will need to develop a new behaviour to propagate such a culture: ‘Wrapping’ our brand in the belief system and the language, customs, rituals and iconography that are the constituents of a distinct culture, and then letting that culture - and the people behind it - become an integral part of our relationship with our consumer.
Personal qualities that foster an internal challenger culture Denting – A Different Kind of Respect
Leaning – A Different Kind of Commitment
The first personal quality that a Pirate individual or team needs to have is the ability to ‘Dent’: to drive the brand vision forward, and to interpret the word ‘No’ simply as a request for further information. Denters are not simply mavericks, but share a number of important characteristics, such as their perception that they are employed by the brand rather than by the company, and their acceptance of internal tension if it is necessary to avoid dilution of the vision. As such, Denting represents a different kind of respect– a primary respect for what is right for the brand (and therefore the shareholder), rather than the historic practices of the company.
Refusing – A Different Kind of Passion
Binding – A Different Kind of Contract ‘Binding’ is how Challengers create singularity of direction across a Pirate team. One does not in fact need a single individual at the helm of a Challenger brand, but one does need a singular vision. Once this vision has been agreed, successful teams of Challengers often seem to create agreements or ‘contracts’ between themselves
Being a Necessary Pirate requires a level of personal exposure to risk - certainly internal risk, and probably external risk as well (in the way one uses PR, for example). Rather than flinch from such exposure a necessary Pirate will profit more from the commitment that comes from accepting and leaning into it. What an individual refuses to accept defines them as powerfully as what they have passion for; in particular, refusing to accept that the key issue on their brand cannot be overcome, or that their category is not open to brand building.
Taking It Personally – A Different Kind of Professionalism It is imperative for a Challenger individual to personally commit to the brand they are working on – a commitment that goes beyond the normal confines of what we call ‘professionalism’. Unless they can take their brand challenge personally, that brand will probably not be fuelled by the standards, fight and spirit it will need to succeed.
and their partners in order to bind everyone in that team to
delivering that brand vision. Whether this is within the company
There is a centre to all these qualities and behaviours that we have outlined: not the personal agenda of the individual, but the opportunity for, and nature of the brand.
(like the Lexus Covenant) or between the company and a business partner (like the Avis Advertising Philosophy), these contracts tend to be horizontal ones, binding groups of individuals together to a common brand goal, rather than an individual one between a person and their company. THE PIRATE INSIDE
How to be a Pirate in the navy, without getting hanged If the previous pages have looked at the overall behaviours and qualities needed of a Necessary Pirate, the next focus specifically on the idea of challenger subcultures within a larger multi-brand organisation: Pirates who find themselves already in the navy, so to speak. What does it take for them to succeed within such a parent? And what can we learn from success and failure? Red Pill, Blue Pill ― Learning From Success If one looks at those successful subcultures, the four preconditions for success (over and above the nature of the team) would seem to be: 1. A commonly understood brand or business requirement to find a fresh way of going to market – necessity, not vanity again. 2. A different approach to how one puts the core team together: a combination of Denters, Idea Hamsters and Implementation Rhinos – sponsored by a Smoke Jumper. 3. The establishment of a broad understanding of the cohesive new brand model. 4. An ability to market the brand imperative in commercial language.
Why Brand Centred Subcultures Fail ― Learning From Failure What are the learnings of failure; The five principal reasons that brand-centred subcultures fail? They seem to be:
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1. The preconditions for success that we identified above are not being met. 2. A lack of belief from your business partners that you are genuinely trying to do something different. 3. Unreasonable expectations of scale or time frame for success from the parent. 4. The brand failing to deliver the financial return its subculture status requires. 5. A change in the way that the parent/child see the symbiosis between the two. 4. The brand failing to deliver the financial return its subculture status requires. 5. A change in the way that the parent/child see the symbiosis between the two.
Biting the Other Generals ― The Broader Benefits Successful Subcultures Offer During the Seven Years War, the brilliantly unconventional General James Wolfe proved himself one of the most talented military leaders King George III had. When some of Wolfe’s detractors tried to undermine him by complaining to his monarch that General Wolfe was mad, the king famously replied: ‘Oh, he is mad, is he? Then I would he would bite some other of my generals’. There can obviously be enormously beneficial influences from successful Pirates on other brands within Behemoth, Inc’s portfolio. THE PIRATE INSIDE
These range from the system wide spreading of new perspectives and practices, to the individual impetus and inspiration they can -create in other team leaders to take risks in pushing their own marketing and communication ideas further.
Writing the Articles in Our Own Organization What if we want a little less conversation, and a little more action? What would it mean to actually try to write the Articles for our own brand and appropriate subculture within our organization? Here the book pulls together a number of learning points so far, to create an overview for the Pirate wanting to foster a Challenger culture within their own team or organization. While putting forward a practical sequence of action it is also designed to prompt the behaviours and qualities we have already outlined as necessary for the Brand Pirate.
That Difficult First Year ‑ Emotional Preparation How do you make the emotional preparation for the long days at sea during ‘That Difficult First Year’ – the time when a challenger team have had to commit to their vision, sometimes in the face of open scepticism, without yet having the results to be sure that they are on the right course? Again, it calls for personal rather than professional qualities – a persuasive tenacity (sometimes to the point of bloody-mindedness) for example, an ability to use things being used against you positively, and a personal motivation and commitment to the brand and what it represents.
Pirate Inside A Summary
ABout ‘the pirate inside’ Adam Morgan does an outstanding job of taking Eating the Big Fish to the next level. He not only creates a powerful insight on the unique behaviours and qualities of Challenger brands, but also provides a practical application perspective with fresh and useful exercises to illustrate key learning points. A must-read for any organization looking to move their brand forward. Mike Wells, Vice President Marketing, Lexus
Adam Morgan is a thorn in the flesh of complacency. This is a book that liberates and excites – and that, with its rich plunder of success stories, reaffirms a sense of adventure at the heart of brand marketing. Thom Braun, Director, Unilever Marketing Academy
‘Pirates’ will enter the marketing lexicon as quickly as ‘Challenger Brand’ did, but with even more impact because this book addresses what the individual can do to make a difference. There is an ‘I’ in team – it’s you, it’s me. And with Adam’s delightfully eclectic field of vision and engaging writing style, The Pirate Inside is as enjoyable to read as Treasure Island. Mark Sherrington, Marketing Director Plc, SAB Miller
If you trust your right brain and think an idea isn’t an idea unless it changes everything, you’ll love this book in celebration of having brave ideas, of ‘thinking different’. Lee Clow, Chairman & Worldwide Creative Director, TBWA|Chiat|Day
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THE PIRATE INSIDE
The summary of Adam Morgan's book The pirate inside