One key factor that all businesses should outline and manage is their brand positioning.
Brand positioning is…
the way in which consumer’s view brands in their minds, and therefore it is important for firms to identify the position they wish to adopt within consumer minds. A strategy should then be developed to ensure the brand takes up a specific position within the market which can then be effectively communicated to consumers.
For example, Mercedes and BMW have successfully positioned themselves as the brands of choice for consumer looking for a luxury car that is not quite a Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini, but is of higher quality than a VW, Ford and Vauxhall.
This has been done through consistent marketing communications throughout their history, and due to the scale of their business has become ingrained not only in their target audience’s minds, but in all consumers’ minds. People know who they are, what they are selling and if they can afford it or not.
They are positioned extremely well.
One issue some brands experience is when they want to change their deeply ingrained positioning, as it can be very difficult to change consumer perceptions of a brand, especially if it has a specific well-known positioning strategy.
One brand within the same industry that has been trying to do this recently is Ford. Across the UK they have successfully positioned themselves as a mid-level family car manufacturer that is reasonable priced. But in the US they are known as much more exciting due to their Ford GT and American muscle cars, therefore earlier this year they launched a reasonably successful re-positioning campaign to reinvigorate the brand.
They called on consumer to “unlearn” what they knew about the brand and be open-minded to their re-positioning.
This example highlights how it can be difficult to re-position a well-known brand, but if there is a level of history to fall back on, which Ford had due to their heritage of automotive excellence which runs all the way back to Henry Ford, it can be effectively done.
One issue which firms must safeguard against however is brand drift. This is where the positioning of a brand begins to drift away from its intended location. This can lead to brand confusion, whereby consumers become confused by the brands offering and therefore unsure on the position in which it is trying to occupy.
Decision Making Process
This also ties into the consumer decision making process, as one of the five main stages of the decision making processes is the evaluation of alternatives. This is where consumers decide between the different options that can solve their problem, but unless brands are positioned effectively they will not even be considered by consumers.
This is because brands are ordered into sets, and unless the brand is within the consumers evoked set, which is the set of brands which the consumer sees as realistic possibilities then they are not even looked into.
These brands are seen as either inept or inert, meaning they are not considered for the final purchase. Thus is it key for firms to ensure they are within their target audiences evoked set, and therefore they are considered within the decision making process.
Equally, it is centrally important that when firms secure a position within consumers evoked sets they are able to maintain that positioning.
Therefore, it is also important that firms protect their positioning, and their brand image, as if their brand image becomes tarnished then their positioning can become compromised. This can have devastating effects upon consumers purchase intentions and therefore must be considered by all brands.
Recent examples of firms implementing such protective measures include Nike dropping long-term partner Maria Sharapova after she failed a drugs test and Ryan Lochte being dropped by Speedo and Ralph Lauren after his shocking run-in with the police during the Rio Olympic Games.
These brands all saw the potential negative impact that supporting these shamed sports stars could have on their reputation and therefore severed all sponsorship ties. Highlighting their commitment to protecting their brand image, as well as their position within the market and more importantly within consumer minds.
Therefore it is essential for all firms to develop, implement and protect their positioning strategy to ensure they are considered within their target audience’s decision making process. This is a complex process, but is hugely rewarding if effectively and thoughtfully implemented.
If you want any help with your brands current positioning or with a re-positioning project feel free to book in for a 30 minute FREE consultation today!