Think about analyzing a brand as an exercise in brand positioning. Consider it a real estate transaction. Generally speaking, two like homes, one on an acre of land and one on a 50×50 lot, will have different values, all else being equal.
This value difference is due to the space between the home and the neighbor. The same is true of brand positions—the more distance between your brand and the competitors, the better.
The prospect must value the space you occupy. The key to that value is the highest emotional intensity, not product benefits.
In the ever-evolving landscape of business and marketing, a brand’s success relies heavily on its ability to resonate with its target audience and capture their loyalty. That is why analyzing a brand is so important today.
Brands are potent identifiers beyond products or services, influencing consumer perceptions, emotions, and purchasing decisions. Understanding a brand’s dynamics, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities is crucial for sustained growth and competitive advantage.
Stealing Share’s methodology for analyzing a brand offers a comprehensive approach to analyzing a brand, incorporating behavior modeling and sources of strategic control to unveil underlying factors that shape a brand’s perception and success.
Behavior modeling: Decoding the consumer mindset
Behavior modeling is at the heart of the Stealing Share methodology for analyzing a brand, which delves deep into the consumer mindset to uncover the motivations, preferences, and psychological triggers that drive brand engagement.
Our process of analyzing a brand departs from traditional brand analysis, often focusing solely on market trends and demographics. Behavior modeling seeks to answer the fundamental question: Why do consumers choose one brand over another?
This methodology recognizes that consumer choices are not solely rational decisions but are heavily influenced by emotions, experiences, and social influences.
By employing advanced market research techniques, including in-depth interviews, surveys, and data analysis, behavior modeling constructs a comprehensive profile of a brand’s target audience.
It explores their needs, desires, aspirations, and pain points, aiming to map out the emotional and psychological journey that leads to brand preference and loyalty.
Through behavior modeling, brands gain insights into consumer perceptions and preferences, enabling them to craft messaging, positioning, and experiences that resonate deeply.
This approach goes beyond surface-level attributes and explores the emotional connections that drive brand loyalty. It helps brands refine their identity, messaging, and strategies in ways that align with the desires and aspirations of their audience, ultimately leading to increased engagement and market share.
Sources of Strategic Control: Navigating brand influence
Behavior modeling forms the foundation of the Stealing Share methodology for analyzing a brand, but it’s only part of the process of analyzing a brand. To truly understand a brand’s dynamics, one must consider the sources of strategic control that shape its perception and power in the market.
These sources encompass internal and external factors influencing how a brand is perceived, positioned, and engaged with.
Culture and Values: A brand’s internal culture and values are pivotal in shaping its identity. Brands that align their inner values with their target audience’s values create an authentic connection that resonates.
Understanding and reinforcing these values are essential for maintaining a consistent and compelling brand image.
Positioning and Messaging: How a brand positions itself in the market and communicates its value proposition is a critical source of strategic control. Effective messaging addresses consumer pain points, showcases unique differentiators, and demonstrates how the brand can enrich consumers’ lives.
Visual Identity: Logos, color palettes, typography, and other visual elements contribute to a brand’s recognition and perception. A cohesive visual identity enhances brand recall and consistency across touchpoints.
Customer Experience: The overall customer experience, from purchase to post-purchase interactions, significantly influences brand loyalty. Brands prioritizing seamless, positive experiences create loyal advocates who amplify the brand’s influence through word-of-mouth and social media.
Competitive Landscape: Understanding how a brand fits into its competitive landscape provides insights into opportunities for differentiation. A brand can position itself as superior by analyzing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
Cultural Trends: Societal shifts, trends, and values shape consumer preferences. Brands attuned to cultural dynamics can adapt and remain relevant, appealing to evolving consumer desires.
Questions to ask yourself when analyzing brand position
We start the process of analyzing a brand position by looking at every competitor.
- What do they claim?
- Who do they say they are for?
- Why do they claim to represent what they claim?
- How do they prove the claim?
- What do they say about themselves?
- How do they represent their claim (humor, directness, etc.)?
We record these claims in a series of line graphs. When graphing a brand or marketing claim, it is essential to be sure that the opposite claim is still aspirational.
Look for a descriptor that identifies an opposite value as necessary.
If you cannot find an opposite claim, it is a sales argument, not a marketing or brand argument. (If there is no opposite value, the brand position is meaningless because it offers no genuine choice.)
A salesperson may be able to claim best because sales, as a function, are personal. But a brand argument must be universally fair. An authentic brand argument is defensible on both sides of the equation.
We build a graph of the market space and build a working 2D model.
When analyzing a brand position, we construct a series of 2D graphs comparing the claims and place the competitors in the quadrant they most closely claim as their own.
There will be many charts, and choosing the correct one requires experience. But it is vital when analyzing a brand for market power.
The winner will be delineated and represent the values held in the highest intensity by those the brand needs to influence. Figuring this out is one of the reasons we always conduct projectable market research.
We need to KNOW what the prospect values. Guesswork is for others.
When analyzing a brand position, we add a 3d axis to make it real
Then we work with our behavioral modeling (remember, we created this modeling to identify the highest emotional intensity available for your brand) to determine the highest emotional intensity that drives the prospect to switch or choose. It’s a first step in how you conduct a brand analysis.
This represents our emotional Brand Line. It dissects the 2D graph and creates a three-dimensional representation of the market.
Positioning the brand becomes more precise in a 3D market model because you identify the prospect’s highest emotional intensity.
Brand position modeling is a complex and challenging process. However, it sheds light on the opportunity in the category and provides the reason to rebrand as a reflection of that opportunity.
Brands must be passionate to inspire market share growth. You cannot understand a brand’s position, let alone analyze a brand position, without seeing the brand’s message without context—the context of your combative and competitive market.
The starting point in brand management is constantly analyzing a brand position, never stopping, and always challenging what seemed genuine yesterday. This critical analysis is how we begin every rebranding and branding project.
Analyzing a brand position is a never-ending process
In looking for market opportunities, you must understand the positions claimed by the competitors in that category.
Remember that you are not judging the claim for truthfulness. You are simply notating the claim itself. You may know too much. Try to see the entire market from the prospect’s vantage point.
The prospect may lack experience with the brands. All they will know are the claims, not the reality. You make a fatal error without seeing the market dispassionately. If you expect to find an opportunity, you must challenge your assertions.
Dispassionate analyses are the first step in analyzing a brand position. You need to define the market by what it IS, not what you hope it will be. Often, competitors claim very similar values.
This is because most marketers see the value of the product and its benefits. Most competitors build their brands on rational claims. But we know that it is the emotional connection that drives attachment.
So, if you sell TV sets, you see the category in terms of price, screen size, built-in applications, refresh rate, and 3D or high def. As a result, most brands will occupy space directly adjacent to the competitive space.
You must be clear-eyed when analyzing a brand position.
Don’t fall victim to fooling yourself. Leave self-deception to your rivals.