What are the benefits of locating the position of a brand?
Brand positioning can make the difference between your brand, or that of a competitors, being a household name in a crowded marketplace. The realisation of a brand's position should, fundamentally, define brand differentiation. Consumers will position your brand as a market leader, as a small local concern, or as a premium brand according to historic representation (advertising, association or PR) and reputation.
Without doubt the most successful brands are those who demonstrate that they know their customers and speak directly to them, thus connecting with their sense of identity. In this sense, connections are created via the representation of customers' values, lifestyles, wants and needs. Here advertising or brand messaging will speak directly to the consumer, hence making them feel affiliated in some way to the brand.
Brand positioning measures that level of audience connectivity alongside the consumer's affinity to other brands. It delivers powerful insight into how successfully you are creating or maintaining bonds with service users or customer. In addition, conducting brand positioning research is an ideal first step when considering a brand refresh, brand realignment due to a merger, or indeed a complete rebrand. Here it will provide data-driven rationale that will inform decision making. Furthermore, and crucially, brand positioning research will identify what others have done well or badly, and direct your organisation's future aspirations.
By analysing the positions of selected competitors, we collate insight relating to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of other brands. This process highlights the different positioning strategies within your industry. In particular, it provides practical education relating to what works (speaks to your desired audience) and what does not work (fails to make a connection).
Arranging your brand alongside that of your competitors into what is sometimes termed a 'brandscape', we create an industry and service brand hierarchy. Brands are ranked according to a number of variables. These will be specific to your particular sector or offering, and can be as detailed as is necessary.
Brands that are based within the service industry such as hotels and eateries tend to use this strategy. This position revolves around the customer's experience of a brand. This includes the process of buying a product, engaging a service, or consuming an item. The experience has to be unique in order to separate it from competitors.
Brands that consider themselves as 'lifestyle' brands are often alcohol or perfume companies. They promote an ideal state of being rather than a specific product by linking the product to aspirational value. This ranges from Miss Dior linking the je ne sais quoi of Paris to a bottled perfume, to Fosters implying that a sip of their beer will transport you to an Australian beach.
Many brands position their products as the ideal solution for common problems. They do this by identifying a need and marketing heavily around the benefits of their brand.
In markets where there are thousands of competitors with a similar product or service, USP positioning is about the smaller-scale features that make brands unique. This could be differences in price, differences in specific elements, or differences in quality. A good example of this is in supermarket advertising: all supermarkets fundamentally sell the same items. However, Lidl's 'Big on quality, Lidl on price' strapline differs from Marks & Spencer's 'This is not just food, this is M&S Food'.
This positioning purely focuses on the particular value that customers get when they choose your brand. This could be simply making life easier, such as Mailchimp's 'Send better email' value proposition, or Harry's offering 'Quality Razors, Fair Price'.
Brand positioning must be insightful, providing more than just a rank. A rationale should be applied to multiple ranks, and that is where our expertise really begins to shine. At Mackman Research, we are specialists in reaching the end user. Whilst asking people to position elements of your brand, we note additional behavioural and emotional connections, adding to mere figures. Although we may be applying a quantitative methodology to a piece of brand positioning research, we always seize opportunities that personal interactions may yield. Hence, we never miss a comment, a remark, or even a facial expression that may add additional context to our data.
In order to gain a true brand position, it is essential to approach both existing and potential customers. We will work with you to identify the target respondents and formulate an appropriate method of data gathering. Your customers are an excellent source for ascertaining your current brand position and those of your competitors. This can be established either through qualitative research where customers talk about their perceptions, or by quantitative surveys. Similarly, potential customers (the general consumer) should also be accessed; these are people who have not yet purchased a product or service from you. Prospective customers may have a completely different perspective of the brand hierarchy landscape.
Similarly, when formulating brand positioning, we engage with our clients, encouraging self-reflection on your own brand. This covers aspects such as your current brand image, heritage, strengths, weaknesses, and links to other brands.
Our brand positioning research is tailored to your specific business sector, and our approach is thorough in order to give a 360º brand position. Wherever possible, we aim to add context to brand positioning; our unique understanding of broader marketing and branding means that we have your practical and interests at heart. This means that as well as providing results and findings, we make recommendations for brand and marketing refinement. We make sure that project outcomes are feasible and in keeping with your strategies.
We always begin our projects with a period of client engagement. But when it comes to brand positioning, we feel it is essential that key stakeholders are involved in this early process. We work by first tapping into your existing knowledge of your business, market, and broader industry. Here we build a picture of your brand intention and brand story which informs processes of data collection.
Once we have gained an insight into your brand values and current proposition, we can broaden the scope and begin to formulate a framework of data collection. Here we may recommend panel or face-to face street surveys (quantitative), or perhaps steer you towards a more ethnographic approach involving interviews. Our choice of methodology will very much depend on the scale of your organisation.
Once we have completed all forms of information gathering, we will analyse data with care and precision. Adding our branding and marketing expertise to the analytical mix, we ensure that you know exactly what direction to take once the project is complete.
Brand positioning is not a single discrete action. Instead, it is a continuous process that is often conducted in an in-depth, multi-layered manner in the first instance. To be truly effective, brand positioning needs to be repeated so that you can track your brand. This means you can follow its success, identify campaigns or messaging that works, and keep an eye on the competition. We can advise you on the frequency and scale of repeat brand positioning research; of course, we will be here to help when the next phase comes around.
At Mackman Research, we recognise the value of our clients' knowledge and experience in their own fields. This means that we specialise in a collaborative approach that bridges resource or knowledge gaps. Our approach involves encouraging our clients to actively participate in developing their own research, marketing and design. We have 20 years of experience with brands from local start-ups to international organisations, and we bring that expertise to every project we work on. With us, there is no 'one size fits all' approach, and our research projects can be fully customised to your specific business requirements.
Contact Mackman Research today and let's get started on your brand positioning project.
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