Brand Competitive Analysis & Positioning
It is critical in building a brand identity that it is done within the context of the competitive landscape. All product and service categories can be placed on an X-Y brand positioning map, with the key purchase drivers comprising the X-Y axes span. Each competitive brand has a place on this positioning map, as determined by their relative strength of associations with the purchase drivers (i.e., “strongly associate the brand with this purchase driver/do not associate the brand with this purchase driver”).
By conducting brand positioning/competitive analysis research, you can determine where your brand stands relative to competitors on key drivers, and then re-position the brand accordingly. For instance, if it is found that none of the competitors have a strong hold on a key purchase driver for the category, based on the market research, your organization can make strategic and tactical moves to “own” that driver, and thereby strengthen your brand position.
A Brand (or Branding) refers to the perceived image and subsequent emotional response to a company, its products and services. It also represents the conversation that customers are having with each other about the company, and how that spreads. My favorite definition about brand is the one Seth Godin gave:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
An Identity describes the visual devices used to represent the company. Identity systems are a visual components package that is paired with style guidelines and used as a framework to ensure the corporate image is cohesive and consistent. Some of the visual devices that leverage the brand elements and style guidelines are as follows: stationery, marketing collateral, packaging, signage, messaging, and digital projects, among others.
Context matters. Developing a marketing and communications strategy must begin with a complete understanding of the forces surrounding you. Every engagement begins with interviews of your stakeholders – employees, customers, supporters. We will engage in thorough give and take. How are you perceived? What is the reputational value of your brand? And of course, what’s the competitive landscape? Answering these questions unlocks the key to understanding your distinctive positioning and the opportunities ahead.
We can help with the following services:
Conduct market research, interviews with internal and external stakeholders
Review current marketing collateral
Carry out competitive scan of collateral and positioning statements
Assess brand value proposition — yours and competitors
What sets your product, service and company apart from your competitors?
What value do you provide and how is it different from the alternatives?
Competitive positioning is about defining how you’ll “differentiate” your offering and create value for your market. It’s about carving out a spot in the competitive landscape, putting your stake in the ground, and winning mindshare in the marketplace – being known for a certain “something.”
A good positioning strategy is influenced by:
Market profile: Size, competitors, stage of growth
Customer segments: Groups of prospects with similar wants & needs
Competitive analysis: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the landscape
Method for delivering value: How you deliver value to your market at the highest level.
Before you begin
Your competitive positioning strategy is the foundation of your entire business – it’s the first thing you should pin down if you’re launching a new company or product. It’s also important when you’re expanding or looking for a new edge.
Profile your market
Document the size of your market, and identify your major competitors and how they’re positioned.
Determine whether your market is in the introductory, growth, mature, or declining stage of its life. This “lifecycle stage” affects your entire marketing strategy.
Segment your market
Understand the problems that your market faces. Talk with prospects and customers, or conduct research if you have the time, budget and opportunity. Uncover their true wants and needs – you’ll learn a great deal about what you can deliver to solve their problems and beat your competitors.
Group your prospects into “segments” or “personas” that have similar problems and can use your offering in similar ways. By grouping prospects into segments or personas, you can efficiently market to each group.
Define how you deliver value
At the highest level, there are three core types of value that a company can deliver: operational efficiency (the lowest price), product leadership (the best product), or customer intimacy (the best solution & service). Determine which one you’re best equipped to deliver; your decision is your method for delivering value.
Evaluate your competition
List your competitors. Include any that can solve your customers’ problems, even if the competitors’ solutions are much different from yours – they’re still your competition.
Rate yourself and your direct competitors based on operational efficiency (price), product leadership and customer intimacy. It’s easy to think you’re the best, so be as impartial as you can be.
Stake a position
Identify areas where your competition is vulnerable.
Determine whether you can focus on those vulnerable areas – they’re major opportunities.
Make a decision on how to position your offering or company.
Select the mindshare you want to own, and record your strategy
Review the components of your market and evaluate what you want to be known for in the future. Condense all your research and analysis into the “one thing” that you want to be known for, and design your long-term strategy to achieve it.
After Competitive Positioning
Once you have a competitive positioning strategy, develop a brand strategy to help you communicate your positioning and solidify your value every time you touch your market. Together, these two strategies are the essential building blocks for your business.
Check out our positioning and brand strategy tools if you’d like guidance.
COMPETITIVE POSITIONING TEMPLATES / MARKETING PLANS / PROJECT MANAGEMENT
EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR YOUR MARKETING PROJECT
The Marketing MO planning app is your behind-the-scenes Chief Marketing Officer, a comprehensive resource that will improve your overall business, whether it’s a consulting practice, start up, or mid-size company. When tackling any new marketing task, have confidence that we have your back – with the structure and detail you need to get things done right.
Design a brand identity in 10 easy steps
It’s not as hard as you think! We explain how to create a new brand from scratch.
When a client approaches you to create a new brand identity for their product, service or event, things can seem a little bit daunting. But don’t worry – all you need to do is apply all the skills you’ve built up in your design career in a slightly different way. To help you along, here are some expert tips on developing the perfect brand identity that will make both you and your client happy.
Who knows, come next year it might be your brand on the corner of every street…
Strategize from the start
Before starting work on a new brand identity, draw up a brand strategy to form a set of values and a proposition upon which the client and you agree. If this doesn’t happen at the start of a project, the client will have no benchmark against which to gauge whether the creative concepts are relevant.
Work with a brief
If design concepts are created without thorough briefing on the brand, then both creative and client end up relying too much on an intuitive idea of the solution, and accordingly run the risk of feedback being subjective. A brief that’s drawn up from a clear brand strategy enables both parties to rationalize the design decisions.
Do your research
Understand the personality of the brand – its history, function and the ethos behind it all. Extract every nuance of who the client is and what the company’s about, including the intended target market, how it wishes to be perceived, and formats and outlets for where it wishes to promote itself.
Gauge their expectations
It can be a valuable exercise to ask clients to do their own exploration into finding references for their branding: you’ll soon see what they like, and – usefully – how broad their understanding of design is.
Check the competition
Look at the colors, typefaces and visual styles used by rivals, and then create something truly unique, positioned away from them all. Think of the varied uses, colors and sizes of your design. Then stand back and consider it with your client hat on.
Don’t rely on the logo
While a logo is sometimes the linchpin that holds a brand identity together and makes it instantly recognizable, brands aren’t built on logos alone. When creating a brand identity, don’t focus on the separate elements. Make sure you always consider the bigger picture and how all the smaller elements interact with one another.
Don’t ignore the client
No matter how much experience you have, the client knows the product better than you ever will. Rushing in with a set of en-vogue visuals might get you praise from your peers, but could be off-kilter with your client’s expectations and what’s best for the brand.
Understanding the client’s needs is the first step to create a great brand identity. By limiting color palettes, details and typography, a simple identity can become timeless and move alongside the client’s ever-changing visual landscape.
Spot what’s special
If that ‘something special’ about the product or client isn’t identified at the beginning, you’ll be missing a massive opportunity to connect with the people you’re creating the brand for, and the audience it must attract. Get this bit right and you’re already halfway there; get it wrong and you’ll end up with little to spur your imagination on.
- What makes smart branding?
- Why designers should give branding back its soul
- Corporate branding: 6 crucial design rules to remember
- 8 steps to branding success
- How to collaborate on complex branding projects