Umair Haque, rising Harvard Business Review blogger and Director of the Havas Media Labs, has made a fascinating observation. He says -” 73% of people don’t care if the brands in their life disappeared tomorrow.” He reiterates his observation by confirming that brands that “make life better” are thriving, and brands that don’t are being punished. His survey involved over 134,000 people in 23 countries and their impressions of more than 400 brands. Havas Index is directly related to the financial result of the brands that have outperformed the stock market by 120% last year. This report was published in 2013, but Haque’s point makes sense even after the passage of half a decade.
Creating a public image and other specific goals for a product or service is called brand strategy. It is a long-term and well carved out roadmap that includes consumer experiences, messaging, internal culture, and even positioning. Brand positioning is always driven by customers recognition and recollection of a brand. Articulating your differentiation against competitors and unique value propositions summate a excellent brand positioning strategy.
Brand positioning is defined as the conceptual place you want to own in the target consumer’s mind — the benefits you want them to think of when they think of your brand. An effective brand positioning strategy will maximise customer relevancy and competitive distinctiveness, in maximising brand value.
Selecting and developing a brand positioning strategy is the right way of moving ahead. There are four major positioning styles:
1. Replacement Strategy
A classic example of the power struggle between Coke vs Pepsi, or in toothpaste categories like Colgate and Sensodyne. Here, the tried and tested strategy is that of challenging the rival in their own game in the struggle for numero uno position. Quality experience for consumers is the only way to replace your brand with the previous favoured one. YouTube remains the market leader in online searches, but Vimeo could successfully place itself as a brand. I would include brands that have smartly raced ahead of their competitors, or given them a tough time. These companies have successfully positioned their marketing strategy by focusing on attributes that their competitors have failed to serve.
2. Big Fish and Smaller Pond
At times, two brands are enormous and very popular. Then the market looks squeezed for space. This scenario is precisely described as ‘Big Fish and Smaller Pond’. In other words, it’s about creating a niche within an underserved market segment (the proverbial small pond). Companies adopt this strategy when there is an identifiable segment in the market that goes unserved. The best example for great brand positioning is Dollar Shave Club that saw the potential of penetrating a market that was earlier dominated by archaic ones. The company offered to deliver premium razors by mail at a very low price of $1 razors.
3. Reframe the market
Reframing the market for placing your product in an advantageous position is another way of redefining the market. Are you looking forward to launching your new product with advanced and innovative features — for example, Tesla and Apple. Tesla launched its electric car market but differentiated its product for its style and price instead of just harping on its experience as a differentiator.
It succeeded in racing ahead of Prius by Toyota. Apple also placed its product on the same strategy highlighting its style and status. Apple has also relied on the similar branding strategy of concentrating on high end developed market with its expensive products thus maintaining its lead over the nearest rival Samsung.
4.Be a Gamechanger
At times, a product can create a market for itself by entering a segment which was unexplored hitherto. Or, if the product is unique, then this is itself its strength to be presented accordingly. Being the first in this category, the brand becomes the market leader by default. Here, the classic example is that of Google. It constantly strives to remain at the top by asking itself: “How can we make our users feel more connected to the world?” It has positioned itself by focusing on offering enriched experience called humanised brand strategy.
This explains the reason for Google to emerge as a verb for conducting online search queries. Yahoo or any other word cannot replace it. The company’s diverse portfolio of products (i.e. Maps, Chrome, Google Home, YouTube) allows individuals to access the information they need quickly.
5. New marketing strategy
New startups and high growth companies have always concentrated upon tapping a huge underserved niche market by initially sending out mailers or other variables. While Netflix elbowed out Blockbuster with its strategy of mailing cult classic films that were not available on the Blockbuster, Vimeo focused on professional videographers unlike YouTube, which is open for amateurs as well.
Why the need for branding?
Companies employ strategies for successful positioning of their brand. Branding helps to gain market share and build a loyal following by creating a permanent image of the brand in the quick memory of the customer. As the adage goes, ‘Customer is the king’ and carving a significant identity in their mind in the crowded marketplace is imperative in shaping consumer perceptions and decision-making behaviour.
For instance, Colgate is an international brand which has comfortably positioned itself as a protective brand, while the name Coca-Cola, resonates with happy and refreshing moments. Woodland as brand denotes class meant for outdoors, and Axe deodorants have a sexual appeal. Top brands are known not only for quality but excellent reliability, recall value and after-sales service as well. Thus, brands cast a distinct vision and build loyalty through their personas.
The world of marketing is driven by brands and their performance. A great brand strategy helps the company to gain universal recognition, repair its image, or prove that it is a significant competitor. Core values, buyer personas, and unique value propositions (UVPs) are byproducts of brand aesthetics. Successful brands are built on minutest details from customer service to sales and marketing.
Author – The blog is presented by Sharda University. Sharda University is one of the largest universities in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) offering 216 varied programmes.