Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Determining the Current Brand Position



One of the first steps in a brand repositioning project is to determine the current brand position. While this is often done through a brand audit in which the brand's website and its collateral materials are studied along with those of its competitors, this only identifies what the brand in question and its competitors are saying about themselves, that is, it will only help you identify the intended brand position, not the actual brand position. Why? Because a brand is owned in the minds of its consumers (and anyone else who is aware of the brand). It's position only really exists in their minds. 

So, to uncover the real brand position, one must find out what consumers are thinking. This can come from qualitative research such as focus groups or depth interviews or quantitative research or both. I have talked about our proprietary BrandInsistence(sm) brand equity measurement system. It measures over 70 different components of a brand's equity. It uncovers the brand position though open-ended response questions and brand delivery rating questions. This results in brand positioning maps for the brand in question and it competitors. 

Some of this can also be discovered through third party product/service rating websites and social media discussions involving the brand. Examples of third party sites are epinion.com, Amazon.com, and AngiesList.com.

The important point is to understand what consumers are thinking and not just what the brand is saying about itself. I have seen brands that have claimed to be the quality, innovation, customer-service or style leaders only to be discovered to be inferior in those areas after hearing from consumers. So, as you can imagine, brand positioning maps and work driven from marketing communication can be quite different from that driven from customer research. Make sure you always conduct customer research before repositioning a brand. Otherwise, you might end up with a highly flawed brand position. 

This problem can occur with marketing agencies that are weak in marketing research capabilities or that want to reserve the vast majority of a client's budget for the creative work. It can also occur when a client is not willing or able to provide adequate budget for the research. All of the subsequent creative work may be for naught if the positions of the brand in question and its competitors were not really understood because customer research was never conducted. 

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