If your product isn't the best in the market, there are two roads you can choose:
1. Make a better product than your competition.
2. Create character, or a different product experience.
Not being first comes with total permission to do great things. You're not bound by the clear tracks of success, leadership, and comfort that comes with being first or the best.
Character is the brand's personality, it's soul. Usually it comes into play through in the experiential purchasing process. The industrial design, the online store expereince etc. Think Apple. Or the experience you get from booking a trip on Priceline vs. going to AmericanAirlines.com.
What else comes with your product that helps you evolve your character's personality?
However you decide to go up against that market leader I ask you to please remember one thing— the value of being second, third, fourth or fifth is that you have the opportunity to be different. Technology today makes it so much easier to bake-in the difference.
The challenge is making that difference obvious to everyone. Because if you don't you're gonna have to be happy with the standard, not-so-different kind of results.