These Household Brands Took Huge Risks To Be Number 1

No one was certain that the Apollo 11 mission wouldn’t fail. Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon was a great risk, but NASA was ready to take the chance if it indicated a possibility for a transcendent reward. Risks are inevitable in order to grow. Successful brands understand this at their core, and they take calculated, deliberate risks to stay at the top of their industry.

Why Take Risks?

As a business owner, risk taking is part of your nature, but that doesn’t mean every risk is going to be a walk in the park. When you confront monster risks with plenty of research and grit you’re bound to reap the rewards:

  • Blast through plateaus
  • Set yourself apart from the competition
  • Establish your brand through innovative challenges and opportunities
  • Test your own limits, and watch yourself grow

Check out these brands that took strategic risks and prepare to be inspired for your next big brand marketing move.

Brands Who Stuck to Their Guns


When Steve Jobs asked to obtain Dropbox, CEO Drew Houston turned him down. Following the “no” Jobs received, he hinted that putting Dropbox out of business was the only alternative. Now 10 years later, Houston has successfully developed the company he envisioned. And supplies a versatile product for Microsoft Windows, Apple, Linux, and Android users.


LEGO mastered the art and science of staying relevant. The toy company leveraged its long-time household name and expanded into the film industry. The 2014 cinema, The Lego Movie, is a 3D animated adventure film. It’s based on the company’s line of construction toys. The Lego Movie featured voices of big-time Hollywood actors Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. And it was a success … a $470 million success. LEGO knew what they were good at and sought out every avenue to take their brand even further.

Massive Leaps in the Name of Vision


Elon Musk used his entire capital from PayPal, the world’s leading online payment system which he sold to eBay. In 2002, he started Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). At first, Musk couldn’t pay his employees. But his luck changed when he secured a multi-billion dollar deal a few months later. Now, SpaceX employs more than 6,000 workers. And he even contracted with NASA in 2006 for the development of the SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft.


Spanx founder Sara Blakely was by no means an experienced business woman. She was instead someone who simply believed in the comfort of women’s pantyhose. Blakely was literally called crazy for wanting to turn her undergarment design into a business. BUT she didn’t let that get in her way.

Quickly, her single product became a popular household name. Blakely established her brand without traditional advertising. Her inovative invention brand displayed a powerful and relatable voice that was open to discussing women’s body image. And, of course, being on The Oprah Winfrey Show helped too.

Infamous Trust Falls in Business


Microsoft has definitely seen its fair share of ups and downs over the years with a variety of their tech commodities. Great for them, they haven’t let their struggles get in the way and have thrived in their tenacity through it all. They have continually brought new notions to the table and aren’t afraid of producing something innovative. Yes, they’re still a tech giant. Their launch of Xbox is a big part of that success. Microsoft came out with their new product in 2001. This was about the same time that everyone was convinced the PlayStation was incapable of being touched by any possible competitor.


In 2001, Pandora was completely out of money and seriously broke. With a bulk of courage, the company’s CEO, Tim Westergren, asked 50 of his employees to defer their salaries for two full years. They worked for free and helped him solve a problem that no other organization was going to solve. Big risk, huh? Lucky for Westergren, his employees stayed loyal. A serious trust fall! Asking for help when you didn’t think it was ever possible is a huge risk. But, the risk was worth it.


Back in 2010, Domino’s pivoted hard. They made a self-deprecating decision to publicly describe their pizza sauce as “ketchup” and crust as “cardboard”. They wanted to entirely revamp their line of ingredients and believed that firing bullets at themselves was the best way to go about it. It paid off. Their strategy could have come up like they were dismantling themselves, but nope–rather a humble makeover.


Industry Transformers


Blake Mycoskie revealed to investors that he not only wanted to produce (what they perceived as) ugly shoes. But also wanted to operate the business on a “buy one, get one” model, giving a pair of shoes to a child in need among every purchase. Unfortunate for him at the time, he was laughed off the stage. But that didn’t stop him. Mycoskie made the decision to run the business on his own in the way he felt was essential for the impact he wanted to make. TOMS ended up clearly defining a new generation of millennial consumerism to the world.  


Can anyone really talk about innovation without Apple coming to mind? Apple has always been an iconic risk taker, but when the company directed all forces towards mobile technology–well, we’re all aware that everything shifted. The tech company transformed the rather modest 2007 smartphone industry into a tech revolution. The iPhone generated a standard for readily available internet and photography, a novel system for software distribution and society’s obsession with media, and named Apple the world’s most valuable company. Hopefully these famous risk takers inspire you to see no as a detour, not a dead end. As you know, risky roads aren’t smooth … that’s the fun of the road less-traveled. Don’t be afraid of off-roading on your way to success–that’s what sets you apart from your competition and leads to growth beyond measure. Push the boundaries and don’t let anyone rain on your enthusiasm. Recognize how far it can take you. Need some more risk-taking inspiration? Check out 7 local brands that took branding risks and nailed it!