Taking the Guesswork out of Brand Positioning

By 26th September 2013blog

Brand positioning is the end game for brands. It focuses on the process of uniquely locating a brand in target customers’ minds relative to its competitors.

The insight that underpins brand positioning tends to be subjective and somewhat spurious at best. Biased survey questions and sample data that provide no statistical confidence are prime examples. It’s no wonder the CFO scorns at most brand positioning study requests. Would you finance an educated guess?

Most brand managers put great faith in brand positioning maps. Draw intersecting x and y axes with two bi-polar adjectives then locate all the brands in your market (including yours) on the chart. With a bit of luck you’ll ‘own’ a quadrant which means your brand is uniquely positioned. Good times? Not really. Positioning maps can provide a useful starting point but any meaningful discussion soon unravels because they’re based on anecdote and opinion not empirical insight.

Canny brand managers utilise statistical techniques to position their brands objectively.  This reduces brand positioning risk. Something your CFO could be interested in?

The below example shows how Wavelength used an advanced statistical technique to help a client objectively understand how their brand was positioned. The black dots represent brands. The coloured dots represent brand associations. Brand name and brand associations have been removed for confidentiality reasons.

brand positioning map bigger

What does this brand positioning map show?

  • Brand 6: Associated with attributes 1 and 4
  • Brand 2: Associated with attributes 2, 3 and 5
  • Brands 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7: Associated with nothing. These brands are ‘floaters’. Bad times. This was indicative of poor brand definition, development and execution. They were generic and dissolved into customer’s memories like soluble aspirin.  Our client was in this group. A bitter pill to swallow.

How can this objective brand positioning map help executives take some of the guesswork out of positioning? Well, it helps brand executives objectively understand:

  • If their brand operates in a crowded market
  • If their brand is positioned in a crowded part (i.e. segment) of the market
  • Core brand associations relative to competitors
  • Where gaps in the market exist to launch new brands (or re-position existing brands)
  • Which brand new products or even acquired businesses should sit under. This decision would be based on closeness of brand and product (or business) association fit
  • Brand positioning performance and / or benchmarking vis-a-vis competitors
  • If poor brand positioning is the source of disappointing brand performance

This is just one way robust analytics can sharpen your brand focus and take some of the guesswork out of brand strategy. This reduces brand strategy risk. And there’s no harm in that.

If you’d like to learn more about this and other brand insight services we offer at Wavelength why not click  here?

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