Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Brands and Competitive Frame of Reference

When executives are positioning their brands they should not forget about determining their brands' competitive frames of reference, or put another way, the product or service categories in which their brands are operating. 

I have already shared the example of Strong National Museum of Play. By choosing the category of "museums of play" (of which it is the only one) instead of "children's museums," not only does it stand out as a category of one brand but it also allows it to offer a variety of play experiences for adults, giving the museum a broader appeal and audience. 

Another example is Artisan Works. Artisan Works crams 500,000 art objects in 50,000 square feet of space, however it does not consider itself an art museum or art gallery. Rather, it is an event space. It hosts more than 300 events per year and has a rent-to-own art program. 

I am working with one brand that is trying to decide whether it is a gas station, convenience store, gas/station convenience store combination or something entirely new (we have tested many out-of-the-box new store concepts for them).

Urgent Care emerged as a new category that is separate from hospitals, doctor's offices or outpatient clinics. 

I worked with one industry trade association that broke out of its mold as a membership organization to become more of an industry think tank, expert center and consultancy.

What was Cirque du Soliel when it was first created? A circus? A theatrical production? Or something entirely new? What are Fringe Festivals? What is their category? What makes them different from other types of events or festivals?

Is this brand of food a snack food, a healthy food, a food for children, or a meal component? How it is defined makes a difference. The same goes for restaurants. What type of restaurant is your brand trying to be? To whom does it cater for what type of occasion (or non-occasion)?

Not that we have to put brands into small boxes, but thinking through a brand's competitive frame of reference will have an impact on its target customers, competitive set, type of usage and frequency of usage.

When one considers competitive frames of reference carefully, often it even has an impact on business models and potential revenue streams.

Don't neglect considering your brand's frame of reference.

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