THE BRAND POSITION With an identity in place and a value proposition specified implementation. begins. Communication objectives need to be established, and execution planned and implemented. The place to start is with a brand position statement-the cornerstone of the communications program. A brand position is defined as follows:
Brand position is the part of the brand identity and value proposition that is to be actively communicated to the target audience and that demonstrates an advantage over competing brands. The four salient characteristics of a brand position as reflected by the phrases “part,” ‘target audience,” “actively communicated,” and demonstrates advantage. ” STRATEGIC BRAND ANALYSIS | |Customer Analysis |Competitor Analysis |Self-Analysis | |Trends |Brand image/identity |Existing brand image | |Motivation |Strengths, strategies |Brand heritage | |Unmet needs |Vulnerabilities |Strengths/capabilities | |Segmentation | |Organization values | A PART OF THE IDENTITY/VALUE PROPOSITION When a brand position exists, the brand identity and value proposition can be developed fully, with texture and depth.
They do not have to be concise statements of what is to be communicated, because tie brand position takes on that role. For some brands, the brand identity and value proposition do combine, into a compact statement that can serve (perhaps with minor adjustments as the brand position. In most oases, however, the former are significantly broader than the latter. To illustrate, elements that are extremely important to the identity may not play a role in the active communication strategy. For McDonald’s, cleanliness is certainly one of the important parts of the culture and identity It would be unlikely to be a part of the brand position, however, because it would not differentiate McDonald’s from its major competitors.
Brand position can he changed without changing the identity or value proposition of which it is a subset. Saturn, for example, positioned itself during the first year as a world-class car. In subsequent years the position focused on a different subset of the brand identity: the customer relationship based on friendship and respect. The identity or value proposition did not change-just the focus of die position, and thus the communications program. But how does one choose which elements of the identity to include in the brand position? Three places to look are at the core identity at points of 1everage within the identity structure, and at the value proposition. Look o the Core Identity
Tie core identity by definition represents the central, timeless essence of the brand. Thus the most unique and valuable aspects of the brand are often represented in the core identity Further, there should be a cluster of brand elements surrounding each core identity component that (in addition to giving it richness and texture) opens up multiple execution alternatives. Finally, the brand position often should include the core identity just so communication elements do not stray from the brand’s essence. Identify Points of Leverage A brand position can be hosed on a point of leverage that is not necessarily iii the core identity The Ronald McDonald character can, for example, provide a point of leverage for McDonald’s.
He is central to the focus on fun and kids, and he is also the basis for Ronald McDonald House, which provides an interesting message that engenders respect and visibility. Thus a possible brand position for McDonald’s might well emphasize Ronald McDonald as follows: • The restaurant that Ronald McDonald, with his presence and programs, makes a ban place for kids and families. (Target-kids and their parents0. Sometimes a subbrand, feature, or service can provide a point of leverage. For example, the visible off cushion in the early Nike Air line served to represent the advanced-technology aspect of the Nike identity. Subbrands-features, and services that play this role are termed silver bullets and are described in detail in Chapter 8 when the brand system concept is introduced.
The Value Preposition: Benefits That This-a Relationships A customer benefit that is part of the value proposition and a basis of a brand-customer relationship can be another prime candidate for a brand position. Nike, for example, provides a functional benefit of improved performance and a self-expressive benefit based on using a shoe endorsed by a celebrity athlete. An endorser such as Michael Jordan can provide the basis for a brand position as follows: • The shoe that Michael Jordan uses to provide the extra edge of performance. (Target-weekend athletes). THE TARGET AUDIENCE The brand position should also target a specific audience, which may he a subset of the brand’s target segment.
For example, a mountain hike company might define a target audience of serious, highly sophisticated, West Coast bikers, whereas the target segment might be much larger group. There can also be a primary and secondary target audience. Male drivers of sports sedans might be the primary target audience for Toyota Camry, but women may be an important secondary target audience: The position strategy should thus consider the secondary audience and, in particular, not antagonize it in any way. ACTIVE COMMUNICATION To say that the brand position is to be actively communicated implies that there will he specific communication objectives focused on changing or strengthening the brand image or brand-customer relationship These objectives, if feasible, should be accompanied by measurement.
For example, if the goal is to create or improve the friend” relationship, an agree-disagree scale could be developed using items such as “Gateway is your friend” and “Gateway will be there for you. ” Such scales could be used both in testing communication programs and in tracking their impact. Brand Position and the Brand Image Brand image reflects current perceptions o a brand. Like brand identity, brand position is more aspirational, reflecting perceptions that the strategists want to have associated with the brand. In creating a brand position, a useful step is to compare the brand identity with the brand image on different image dimensions. DIMENSION |Brand Identity |BRAND IMAGE | | |(GOAL) |(CURRENT REALITY) | |Product |Premium beer |Premium beer | |User |young in spirit or body) |Middle-aged | |Personality |Fun, humorous |Fun, humorous | |Functional benefit: |Superior flavor |Superior flavor | |Emotional benefit: |Social group acceptance |(none) | Comparison of the identity with the image will usually result in one of three very different communication tasks being reflected in a brand position statement. Any brand image can be: • augmented (if a dimension needs to be added or strengthened)-e. g. add social group acceptance • reinforced and exploited (if the image associations are consistent with the identity and are strong-e. g. , reinforce fun and humorous personality • diffused, softened or deleted if the image is inconsistent with the brand identity)- e. g. , soften middle-aged-user imagery. Augmenting an Image A brand image might be too restrictive- that is, it may be geared to one age group or application, while the identity points the way to adding other segments or applications. A firm might want to market to the home as well as the office, or to those requiring style as well as durability The brand position ought therefore attempt (1) to add associations to the brand image and (2) to soften restrictive perceptions.
Clinique, for example, has a strong image of being fresh, clean, and pure, with a white-coat clinical approach to skin care and cosmetics. The typical user is perceived to be a young woman with oily skin. The challenge for Clinique is to maintain its current image strengths but to soften the youthful image (to snake the brand accessible to mature women) and to reach out beyond the specialized focus on oily, problem skin to a broader audience. For instance, Clinique would like to inject elements of elegance into the line, not to compete with the “elegant” position of competitors but to expand beyond their strong clinical position. Reinforcing an Image
The brand image should not dictate the position (or identity), but neither should it be ignored. Often, an effective brand position will reinforce and exploit an image strength. in fact, a decision to create a new position that does not build on a brand’s strengths is usually difficult and risky. Subaru’s greatest asset has been its association with all-wheel drive (supported by the image of Subaru transporting skiers to the slopes) and the performance and safety that all-wheel drive affords. At one point, an attempt was made to reposition the brand to appeal to a more general market, where it would compete more directly with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
The (perhaps predictable) result was that there was no longer a point of difference between Subaru and its competitors, and the effort failed. Subaru, somewhat damaged, then returned to a brand position based on its accepted image of superiority in making all-wheel-drive cars. Diffusing an Image Sometimes specifying what a brand is not is as important to the integrity of the communication program as specifying what it is. In the comparison shown above, the beer’s brand image was of a typically middle-aged used while the brand identity included younger drinkers. Specifying that the brand is not exclusively for middle-aged users suggests visual imagery to avoid as well as imagery to include. DEMONSTRATE AN ADVANTAGE
Finally, brand position should demonstrate an advantage over competitors. The bottom line is that the position should specify a point of superiority that is a part of the value proposition. The point of advantage should resonate with customers and be differentiating-that is, represent something different from what competitors provide. Resonate with the Customer A key position objective is to develop a point of advantage that resonates with the customer because of a compelling value proposition or because of a ineanirii1 brand—customer relationship. If the point-of- advantage appeal is off target, unpersuasive, or inconsequential, the result will be a weak, vulnerable brand.
Strategists should seek a position that will resonate with the customer not only today hut for a long time into the future. A brand strategy will require substantial investments, and the return on these will be limited if the position is short-lived. In contrast, as Chapter T (on managing brands over time) will make clear, there are enormous payoffs to having a consistent strategy over time. Thus one goal is to create a brand identity and position that has the potential to endure. Differentiate Oneself from Competitors The brand position also needs to provide a point of difference with respect to competitive offerings. There are several ways to differentiate.
The brand can position itself against a competitor’s functional benefit by claiming to be superior or comparable at a lower price, or it can claim to provide a different functional benefit. Alternatively, a position can be based on something other than a functional benefit-an emotional or self-expressive benefit, an organizational attribute, a brand personality or a customer relationship. Adding a brand personality often provides a key to competitive distinctiveness. Matching Versus Beating Competitors There is a natural tendency to believe that a brand needs or be superior on all dimensions. In fact, though, a more appropriate and feasible goal may he to avoid having an inferior image that is a liability.
Assume, for example, that Compaq s portable computer brand is competing in a segment for which the primary dimensions of competition are features and company support. It may be unwise to attempt to be perceived as superior on the company support dimension, where competitors such as Dell have strong positions; rather, achieving parity or near-parity might be better strategy The goal might be to have customers believe that Compaq is close enough to Dell on customer support that other considerations can dictate the purchase decision and satisfaction with the product. FOUR QUESTIONS The brand position statement should thus address four sets of question, as suggested by Figure 6-2: 1.
Which elements of the brand identity and value proposition should be a part of the position, a part of the active communication program? Which will resonate with customers, and differentiate the brand from competitors? 2. Who is the primary target audience? Who are secondary target audiences? 3. What are the communication objectives? Does the current image need to be augmented or strengthened, reinforced and exploited, or diffused or deleted (that is, what does the brand not stand for”? 4. What will be the points of advantage? What will be the points where parity or near-parity is the best the brand image should strive for? POSITIONING IN ACTION
The following are six examples of position statements drawn from the work of EMP DDB Needham, a British advertising agency: • Miller Lite is a genuine standard- strength lager from America that is smoother and easier to drink. (Target-eighteen- to twenty-four-year-old, male standard-lager drinkers, particularly those mote interested in personal appearance) • Alliance & Leicester, a savings and loan, is big, warm, and friendly; something the ordinary person can identify with and feel secure about. (Target-existing and potential depositor’s/investors’) • Alliance & Leicester allows you to arrange a mortgage before buying a house; it reduces the anxiety provides reassurance, and becomes a father figure. Target-first-time home buyers, age twenty to forty, who are unconfident or even frightened about the whole process) • Hellmann’s mayonnaise is a versatile, everyday, idiot-proof (easy to use in recipes and sandwiches), condiment/ingredient with a range of uses well beyond salad dressing. (Target-current Hellmann’s users, and nonusers of mayonnaise) • Clarks Desert Boots are the original (a design originating decades ago), and yet they reflect contemporary style like an Armani suit (Target-young men at the forefront of fashion). • Krona is the first margarine with a taste and texture indistinguishable from butter. (Target-homemakers currently using butter who are sensitive to price increases). Figure 6-2 Brand position Note that there are two positions for the brand Alliance & Leicester each clearly aimed at very different target audiences.
The brand personalities, however, do overlap (a reassuring ‘father figure” overlaps with “big, warm, and friendly”). There would be even more overlap between the complete brand identities. Black Velvet Black Velvet whiskey, the identity of which was introduced in Chapter 3, has the following positioning statement: • Black Velvet is an exceptionally soft and smooth imported whiskey, not to be known as a Canadian. (Canadian is a type of whiskey. ’ II has a unique touch of class which provides affordable luxury at cut above popular-priced whiskeys. (Target-spirits drinkers). The point of advantage is the soft, smooth taste, which distinguishes Black Velvet from the sharp bite of Scotch whiskeys.
The images of softness and smoothness are driven by the product and by the Black Velvet lady, who is shown in advertisements and posters (see Chapter 7). The imported position suggests that Black Velvet is a premium brand known worldwide, and the “unique touch of class” plus the soft, smooth taste suggest that it provides personal reward and relaxation. Note what Black Velvet is not-a Canadian. The need is to attract interest among drinkers of Bourbon and Scotch whiskey rather than being restricted to drinkers of Canadian whiskey. BE FEASIBLE The brand position must be attainable; there is nothing more wasteful than frying to achieve a position that is out of reach.
Strong niche brands often fail into this trap when they attempt to break o of their niche. Subaru, as noted earlier, had a strong niche based upon its all-wheel-drive technology and Japanese quality associations, but faltered when it tried to become a mainstream brand with undifferentiated models. A brand position that extends beyond the current brand image must be supported by an organization that Ii the will and ability to create a product or services that reflect the new identity. Then the challenge is to convincingly communicate new brand position. The Subaru story illustrates the difficulty of both tasks. ACHIEVING BRILLIANCE IN EXECUTION
The moat strategically logical position will not be worth implementing if a brilliant execution cannot be found. Too often communication is developed-sometimes by committee that although on target is heavy-handed and does not break out of the competitive clutter. The keys to avoiding this mistake are patience and an insistence on achieving brilliance. It is too easy to compromise and believe that a commitment to spend money on a brand is enough. It isn’t. I have often been asked, “Should we increase our communication budget by X million dollars to create a brand? ” The answer can be yes or no, depending on the quality of the execution. One study showed that the quality of the advertising is five times more important than the expenditures.
Another showed that Marlboro got dramatically more impact for its communication budget than did other brands, undoubtedly due to its established symbols and personality. A brilliantly executed communication program breaks through the clutter by shocking, entertaining, or involving the audience. At the same time, it must implement the positioning strategy and connect that implementation to the brand name. Achieving brilliance is difficult; indeed, even recognizing when you have achieved it is not easy. Some guidelines are offered below GENERATE ALTERNATIVES The more alternative executions you generate, the better are your chances of creating something brilliant. Alternatives can be in the Lone of either multiple creative approaches for the same media vehicle or disparate media avenues.
Getting a number of creative advertising teams independently involved—even using different agencies if necessary-can generate multiple creative options. Coca-Cola has rather aggressively used multiple agencies to create acme great individual ads. The trick is to have I strategy that guides and coordinates, to be ready to deal with egos and a reluctance to share credit, and to believe in the concept enough to actually spend the extra money multiple teams require. Considering non-traditional media often leads to effective communication and sometimes to breakthrough results. Brilliance may be available only to those wise to look in unconventional areas such as the following: Event sponsorships provide relatively unobtrusive but high-impact name exposure coupled with positive associations, Spending On event sponsorships in the United States two-thirds of which involved snorts events) approached five billion dollars in 1994. Recall the impact of the WordPerfect sponsorship of a bike racing tarn in Europe, which was mentioned in Chapter 1. • Clubs and usage programs provide new ways to generate personalized customer relationships. The Swatch collector’s club, Nestle’s Buitoni Club, Harley-Davidson’s Harley Owner’ Group H. O. G,, and the Apple Macintosh user groups all play a key role in creating and maintaining a loyal customer base. Direct response marketing allows customers to bypass retailers and link directly to firms via catalogues, infomercials, the Internet or other means. • Public relations efforts offer low-cost exposures with enhanced credibility Nintendo developed a new generation of video games that was newsworthy enough to get more than 300 million exposures on news and special-interest programs. Silicon Graphics spent no money on advertising until fall 1994 by relying on a public relations staff that got the firm on the cover of Business Week among other achievements. • Publicity stunts generate visibility. Swatch helped introduce a watch by hanging a 175-yard-long giant watch from a skyscraper in Frankfurt and Tokyo. Promotions have the potential to damage brand equity hi’ focusing attention on price, but they can also support the brand. Recall the Saturn promotion in which winners got to visit Spring Hill to see their car being made. • Product shows and event stores provide ways to make a unique and involving personality statement. Examples include Cadbury World (which offers exposure to the history of chocolate, plus samples, to more than a half million visitors per year), Apple Computer’s MacWorld Expo, the GE Houses of the Future, the Coca-Cola Road Trip trailer, and the Nike Town stores. • Packaging carries a major part of the identity for many brands.
Loblaw’s President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie, for ———————– Subset of identity/Value Proposition • Core identity • Points of Leverage • Key benefits Target Audience • Primary • Secondary • BRAND POSITIONS Create Advantage • Points of Superiority • Points of Parity Actively Communicate • Augment the image • Reinforce the Image • Diffuse the Image • BRAND IDENTITY SYSTEM BRAND IDENTITY Extended Core Brand as Product 1. Product scope 2. Product attributes 3. Quality/value 4. Uses 5. users 6. Country of origin Brand as Organization 7. Organization attributes (e. g. , innovation, consumer concern trustworthiness 8. Local Vs. lobal 9. Brand as Person 9. Personality (e. g. , genuine, energetic, rugged) 10. brand-customer relationships (e. g. , friend adviser) 1. Brand as Symbol 11. Visual imagery and metaphors 12. Brand heritage VALUE PROPOSITION – Functional – Emotional – Self-expressive benefits benefits benefits CREDIBILITY – Support other brands BRAND –CUSTOMER RELATIONSIP BRAND IDENTITY IMPLEMENTATION SYSTEM BRAND POSITION • Subset of the brand identity and value proposition • At a target audience • To be actively communicated • Providing competitive advantage EXECUTION • Generate alternative • Symbols and metaphors • Testing TRACKING