When it comes to positioning your brand, product or service in your sector, you cannot ignore the influence of consumer perception. 

It’s argued that a consumer makes their mind up about a brand’s website in a few milliseconds. It makes it even more challenging for marketers to create a unique value proposition which sets their brand(s) apart from the market competition. 

And to align where the company is and where consumers see it to be, makes a difficult task even harder.

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To help marketers identify their current position and opportunities in the market, they often set out the to create a brand positioning map. This map helps them understand how their brands can stand out against competing businesses. And this taking into consideration marketing elements such as branding, logo, strapline, mission statement, imagery, and others.

This guide will outline how you can get started.

What is a Brand Positioning Map?

Brand positioning mapping refers to the task of identifying and assessing a company’s unique position in the eyes of consumers. A brand position map is a diagram or chart. It includes a brand’s position relative to the attributes that it’s being measured against. 

For example, the X axis of the chart could measure criteria such as professional (most) or friendly (least). And across the Y axis, other characteristics like high-end (most) or affordable (least).

In this example, marketers can add logos or names of other competitors or industry leaders in the market. From this, they can define which segment of the market they would want their brand to occupy.

brand-positioning-map
An example of a brand positioning map

Why is a Brand Positioning Map Important?

A positioning or perceptual map is a tool that businesses use to place their products or services into the ‘places’ where they can be most effective in the eyes of consumers.

Creating a perceptual map like this allows marketers to uncover new, unique ways that brands can differentiate themselves from the competition. In addition, they can potentially identify new customer segments to tap into. 

Brand and product positioning maps allow marketers to pinpoint and understand various elements of a brand. These range from its visual identity to its color, typeface and graphics. In addition, mapping out a brand position allows marketers to consolidate numerous perceptions and opinions of the brand. And ultimately, to formulate or fine-tune where a brand should be focusing its marketing efforts. 

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For instance, let’s say that existing consumer opinion of a brand is that it’s cost-effective to buy from. That could indicate that any new marketing efforts should not serve to alienate the demographics of these buyers. Or that the broader consumer perception of a business is that it’s high-end. A perception map can instigate a conversation between stakeholders that the product or service offering needs to be made more affordable.

As far as a business’s marketing efforts are concerned, there is no right or wrong approach to take. Web design, graphic design, videography and photography can work wonders at elevating a brand’s presence in the eyes of consumers, and they often start with positioning maps. Marketers can utilize these maps to give their products or services the best advantage. This in turn can lead to improved sales, greater brand awareness, and closer market segmentation. 

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Brand-Damage-Prioritize-communication
Marketers can utilize brand positioning maps to give their products or services the best advantage

Create a Brand Position Map in 7 Easy Steps

1. Draw a position map

Perceptual maps don’t all have to be created in the same way. If you have a preferred method of assessing your consumers’ opinions about your brand against your competitors, by all means, use that template. For most newbies to the process, a positioning map template usually consists of a box with four quadrants, separated by a horizontal and a vertical line.

2. Choose two important attributes

Whether you’re assessing your products, services or your brand itself, it’s important to use your barebones map wisely, by focusing on two important attributes. 

For example, if you represent an accountancy practice, identify attributes about your accounting services based on what your clients have said. Take the below example as a guide.

On the X axis, you can measure affordability, with the right side of the horizontal line representing ‘very affordable’ and the left side representing ‘expensive’. Your Y axis can represent, as an example, friendliness, with the top part labeled ‘very friendly’, and the bottom part as ‘unfriendly’. 

Brand positioning map template
Brand positioning map example

3. Add your business and its competitors

The next step is to place your brand and competitors in the place that represents their position in the marketplace. You can even go a step further by creating bigger shapes for ‌competitors that retain the biggest influence or market share. 

It’s important to be objective in your analysis. Don’t assume that all your consumers know the full extent of your product or service benefits. You may find that consulting an impartial third party will give you a closer and more objective analysis of your positioning.

Competitor analysis ebook

4. Determine the positioning gap(s)

As you gradually fill in your positioning map, you’ll find that you’re able to understand your brand’s position in your marketplace, which may be more competitive than you realized.

The next step is to identify any marketplace gaps for your business based on the two-attribute matrix you identified. Taking the accountancy example earlier, you may find the following:

  • Lower competition in the quadrant of ‘expensive and friendly’, presenting a newer place to position your brand.
  • Opportunities in ‘affordable and unfriendly’, but you may not wish to position your brand in this way.
  • Increased competition in ‘affordable and friendly’, but one that presents some good avenues.
  • No occupation in the ‘expensive and unfriendly’ quadrant, which is probably a good thing.

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5. Repeat steps 1-4 with alternative attributes

Determine whether your map has given you valuable insights into potential positioning gaps, niches or segments. 

If not, consider trying the process again but instead focusing on different attributes, perhaps ones that are more meaningful to your brand and consumers. These could be unique features or benefits of your product or service, such as speed, user-friendliness, availability, durability, and so on.

It’s a case of trial and error when it comes to repeating the process until you can find a profitable and rewarding niche that you can position your brand in. 

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mcdonalds-brand-values
McDonalds brand values

6. Consolidate your analyses to create a positioning statement

Once you have identified the best position for your brand, you can begin to craft a unique mission statement. This statement usually comprises a single paragraph that describes your brand’s offering(s) that set it apart from your competitors. 

Consider your target audience, product and service category. And how you can prove that your offering delivers value and benefits to consumers.

7. Create a strapline, slogan, or tagline

Once you have crafted a statement, you can go a step further. Create a top-level strapline, slogan or tagline, a condensed version of your statement, if you will. You can use this when networking with customers, stakeholders, suppliers or referral partners externally, as a way to market your business and highlight its USP (unique selling points) to interested third parties.

Conclusion

Brand position mapping is a beneficial technique to help you gather important ongoing information regarding perceptions of your brand – and your competitors – in the marketplace. If you want to establish your brand effectively, consider using these maps to find the right gaps to target. 

Dakota Murphey is based in the UK. She has more than ten years of experience in eCommerce, Digital Trends, Branding, Cybersecurity, and Compady Growth. She regularly contributes to a number of authoritative resources online and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other like-minded professionals. Find her on Twitter or her website.

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