Understanding what people think about your company is essential for any business. An understanding of your strengths and weaknesses allows you to fix your problems and highlight your competitive advantages.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about brand mapping and how to utilize it in your business. With that in mind, let’s dive right into this article.
What is Brand Mapping?
A brand map is a visual display of attributes that help you understand how people perceive your brand and compare it with competitors. Creating brand maps is a useful exercise that helps you position your brand in the marketplace.
Brand mapping is the process of gaining feedback about your business and evaluating how customers view you versus competitors. That feedback is based on different elements of your company. For example, you might try to get feedback about the price structure you use, in-store display, business objectives, brand essence, brand personality, content marketing strategy, and so on.
Brand mapping helps you and your marketing team see where your company is doing by assessing customer sentiment. This exercise can provide valuable insights into the future performance of your company. You can use these insights to grow your business.
How To Map Your Brand
While a brand mapping exercise can be conducted in isolation, it is usually part of a larger review of business development goals. Let’s look at the basic steps to creating brand maps for your brand, whether you’re doing it standalone or as a sub-task within a branding campaign.
#1. Identify your brand attributes
To get started with brand mapping, you need to identify the attributes or variables that are of significance to your audience and the ones you will use to compare your brand with the competition. For example, “comfort” and “style” are two key attributes that drive purchases among your customers.
Next, you need to identify your ideal customers. Creating a buyer persona is a useful exercise that helps you pinpoint your target audience and give their experience with your brand a human face. Once you’ve defined your ideal customers, you are ready to review your competitors.
#2. Include your competitors
After identifying your brand attributes and ideal customers, you need to determine your competitors. Typically, you should select between 5 to 8 direct competitors. These competitors should be providing the same products or services as you.
You may also start by listing businesses that are widely thought of as leaders in your industry. List industry leaders and companies that operate in the same physical area. The better the list, the more insights you will gain from this exercise. For example, if you are an online course creator, you might want to take a look at the people offering the same services in your particular niche.
#3. Establish scores
After identifying the attributes and including your competitors, the next step is establishing scores for the brands you’re evaluating and finding out where your brand fits in. Start with this step by first choosing two determinant attributes. For example, a website that sells shoes may use the size and color of its products as two determinant factors.
Next, assign all relevant brands a value depending on the information you have regarding every company. All brands will receive a number ranging from one to five as a factor to measure the comparison to your brand.
Assigning values to yourself and your competition on each attribute is a good starting point for self-evaluation. It will give you insights that will help in making crucial decisions related to your marketing strategy.
Once you’re done assigning values to your brand and the competition, you can plot them according to the key attributes. Your brand map should look like this:
Brand mapping is not the only tool you can and should use for competitor analysis. However, it is a very useful technique you can utilize to determine where you are, where you want to be, and what strategy to implement to get to your desired market position.
Why is Brand Mapping a Must for All Marketers?
All brands have a reputation with their customers and in the market. You tend to have a brand reputation even if you nurture it or not. You can change your reputation by tweaking your brand positioning strategy to improve your brand image and reputation.
For example, Coca-Cola was once marketed as a drink to combat alcohol consumption, then as a medicine for various illnesses. The company has evolved over the years into a global brand selling hundreds of drinks. The Coca-Cola company generates close to $40 billion in sales annually.
The company is most widely recognized for it’s signature drink, Coca-Cola.
The brand’s evolution hasn’t exactly been linear. The company played around with its logo and branding a fair bit before it reached its present form:
How and why did Coca-Cola change its logo so many times over the decades? One of the answers is brand mapping.
For most of its history, the company had been using a variety of the ribbon device and cursive font that made it stand out. In 1985, though, the company sought to reinvent itself by introducing “New Coke” to respond to customer taste tests that reflected demand for a sweeter recipe.
When consumers started to demand a return to the original recipe, New Coke – and the slab font logo – were gradually phased out in favor of the old dynamic ribbon and recipe. While your brand might not have the reach or influence of Coca-Cola, there are a few things you can pick up from the brand mapping example above:
#1. Brand mapping helps you estimate the future position of your brand
Besides getting important and relevant insights, brand mapping is an effective tool to describe the desired future of your business. This becomes even more relevant if you are seeking to change its positioning or when your industry is undergoing a significant transformation.
Moreover, a perceptual map also helps you track your brand repositioning over time as it shifts towards the desired future position. For example, Coca-Cola’s New Coke experiment might have failed. Still, it also reinforced the public’s preference for the drink’s old recipe and branding while also reflecting a shift in customer tastes, which included low-calorie and flavored varieties.
#2. Brand mapping gives you insight into the industry
Perceptual brand mapping, in the truest sense, displays the relative position of your competitors depending on how customers perceive those brands. The axis indicates brand attributes that consumers find to be attractive and which promote differentiation among the brands.
Perceptual mapping leaves a significant visual impact on its viewers. You can find out important information through this kind of marketplace view quickly rather than tables of data. By using an X-Y axis, you can easily see where your brand stands in terms of specific attributes compared to the competition:
For instance, the perceptual map above compares some luxury fashion and accessory brands on the attributes of pricing and exclusivity. Hermes ranks high on both price and exclusivity and is thus considered the prestige brand for this niche. Its competitors include other exclusive, expensive brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton.
On the other hand, Guess is seen as both mass-market and affordable. While those two attributes don’t necessarily mean that Hermes is a superior product, it does tell us two things: first, Guess has a long way to go before they can be considered a true luxury brand. Second, it seems that Guess is fine with its brand identity being seen as a fashion brand for the masses that competes with the likes of Coach and Gucci.
Of course, using different attributes will give us different brand maps. With its aggressive marketing, I’m willing to bet that Guess will somehow turn out on top of the customer recognition rankings.
#3. Brand mapping keeps the brand and business strategy in sync
To capture the attention of maximum target customers and increase your brand awareness in the marketplace, your brand and business strategy should be in sync.
When your audience perceives your brand as authentic, 86% of consumers tend to like and support it.
As a marketer, brand mapping always helps you to get alignment on strategy. A critical evaluation to generate conceptual mapping is if a brand is in the right position depending on your company’s comprehensive business strategy (like advantages, scope, and vision) and brand strategy (such as framework and positioning).
Here are some of the important questions that your team should be able to reply to regarding your brand’s present and intended future position in the marketplace:
- Does the brand position align with the organization’s strengths, capabilities, and assets?
- Does the brand position reflect the unique value offered to customers?
- Is the brand position trustworthy and attracts maximum present and potential customers?
- How defensible and sustainable is the brand position related to customers?
Brand mapping will help you to answer these questions with more accuracy and self-introspection.
Brand mapping is a process that helps you understand your brand’s position in the marketplace based on selected attributes. While it is quite a tedious activity that also involves competitor analysis, the benefits of brand mapping are worth the time and effort you spend on it.
By performing brand mapping, you discover where your brand stands, how your market perceives you, and how much work needs to be done to get to your desired position. It is but the first step in a long journey towards industry dominance.
About the Author!
Baidhurya Mani is the founder of SellCoursesOnline.com. He regularly shares tips, tools, and strategies to help creators and entrepreneurs build a successful online course business.