Companies often want to conduct a Brand Positioning study to better understand where they currently sit within their market’s competitive landscape. This provides insight as to the effectiveness of their sales and marketing campaigns, the relevance of their products or services, and a snapshot of their overall standing as an industry competitor.
Before jumping straight in, let’s start by defining Brand Positioning to offer some context as we go through the underlying details:
“A marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the consumer.”
Of course we agree that a Brand Positioning study provides a wealth of valuable insights for any brand, but we have to avoid generalizing the underlying details by treating Brand Positioning as a singular concept. There are several key pieces that must fit together in order to address Brand Positioning, because if even one piece is missing the entire puzzle will remain incomplete.
What are these key pieces, you ask? Well that’s a great question. Here I’m going to list and discuss the most important topics which combined will establish your brand’s position within the target market.
What do your target consumer groups look like and where can they be found?
If you haven’t already done so, developing customer profiles is a vital first-step when seeking to understand or establish your brand’s positioning. Clarifying basic demographics is a good start, but evolving these customer profiles to include psychographic details, lifestyle preferences and other personal characteristics will add a “human layer” to traditional sales statistics. Not to mention the support it provides when seeking to personalize marketing messages and customer experiences.
In terms of Brand Positioning, the process of understanding how your brand fits within the minds of consumers is dependent on first identifying the consumers whose minds you want to be positioned within. Ok that phrasing might be confusing. So basically, when considering a brand’s position within the minds of consumers, which consumers are we talking about?
Once we have a clearly defined target audience and we have fully developed customer profiles, we are in a good position to move forward and address the next aspect of Brand Positioning.
Are these target consumer groups aware of your brand’s presence within the market?
A discussion around Brand Positioning is irrelevant if consumers aren’t aware of a brand, because how can a brand hold a position within the mind of a consumer who hasn’t heard of it? But since we’ve already established our target audience and narrowed the focus of our inquiry, we can ask the next logical question “Is our target audience aware of our brand?”
While the question of brand awareness may seem like a straight-forward yes or no situation – and in all fairness, to a certain extent it is – there are many layers to be peeled back offering extremely valuable insights. Both long term and short term objectives will benefit from understanding details of whether or not consumers have heard of your brand. If consumers are aware of your brand, how did they hear about you? If not, where and how can they be reached?
Take a focused approach and treat this as a standalone topic rather than looking for the simple yes or no response. More in-depth insights will be produced and the foundation will be laid for complex segmentation analysis down the road.
How do consumers perceive your brand’s overall image and value propositions?
This tends to be the heart of the matter when talking about Brand Positioning. Companies want to know how consumers perceive their brand in an effort to better understand their position within the market.
Obviously there’s a lot to be gained by understanding how consumers perceive your brand, and jumping to this point in the process can be appealing because of the potential for juicy details. But therein lies the danger of moving through the process too quickly; confusing juicy details with reliable insights will lead to misguided decisions.
Gaining reliable insights is dependent on clearly identifying and understanding the target audience; otherwise you might be talking to the wrong people. It’s also important to establish who has, and who has not heard of your brand to ensure you’re asking the right people the right questions. With these two pieces in place, the next steps can be made with confidence knowing due diligence has been conducted and the foundation for success has been laid.
Where does your brand fit within the competitive landscape of your target market?
Continuing along the Brand Perception path leads us to a Competitive Analysis, which addresses how consumers view your brand within the field of competitors vying for their business.
This takes the Brand Perception concept one step further by adding an outside variable to the question of how consumers view your brand; the variable is market competitors. Consumers may see your brand as high quality, but that perception can shift into a lower tier of quality when directly compared to other brands in the market.
Making this distinction is important because it provides context to the consumer’s perception. Their world is complex with a lot of information and they are exposed to a wide variety of brands fighting for market share. By taking this comparative approach, a more cohesive understanding of Brand Perception takes shape which is supported and strengthened by the overall process leading up to this point.
As you can see, the topic of Brand Perception is more complex than it appears on the surface. Each step outlined above not only plays a crucial role in yielding the desired perception insights, they each provide value on their own by addressing important aspects of any sales and marketing strategy. The common adage is true, if it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing right. And a Brand Perception study is definitely worth doing.
For over 30 years we’ve been refining our approach to market research, analytics and customer experience development. The resulting strategies have led to the growth and development of our partner brands of different sizes across different industries.
If you’re interested in a Brand Perception study of your own, or are just looking to discuss how data-driven consumer insights can apply to your objectives, give us a shout!