Brand knowledge comprises of brand awareness and brand image contribute to establishing of customer based brand equity. The process is gradual and requires in-depth understanding of consumer mind. Connection between brand and consumer leads to long term partnership and loyalty. And, continued support to marketing efforts of the company. So when a company is trying to build up brand knowledge, Brand Positioning becomes very much relevant. For example, Apple and Windows both are well known brand. Consumers are aware that they both are computer brands dealing in entertainment, but Apple stands for style, cool quotient, iPod etc where as Windows stands for world class operating system, quality etc. Consumer can easily identify point of similarities and points of difference between the two brands. This process of creating point of similarities and points of difference in consumerâ€™s mind is called Brand Positioning.
Brand positioning strategy is about finding a right place for a brand in market place as well consumer mind. A consumer should easily identify that for a given need or want this is the brand. If brand fails to do this, it simply becomes
just another product or commodity on supermarket or mall shelf. So for successful brand positioning, following points are of utmost importance for companies; target consumer, main competitors, point of similarity with competitors and point of difference with competitors.
So, to identify target consumer we must narrow down target market. A market comprises of cluster of individual with similar behavior, referred to as segments. These segments can be defined on basis of personal consumption profile, which includes marital status, consumption of product, usage rate of product and expectation from product. Another is demographic which includes age, sex, income level, race and family. Further segmentation can be done on location, if consumer, that is whether they are local or global. Other segmentation can be done on basis of emotional profile, which includes personal belief and values, chosen lifestyle, religious affiliation etc.
Another market which is important is business market. Segmentation of business market is starts with product class, meaning target industry (chemical, agriculture etc). Another segment is buying decision, that is, through tender process, bidding process. By end customer (government, not profit organization etc). Finally segmentation is done on basis of company profile, which includes financial strength and geographical location.
Knowing your competitor is very essential for survival in market. SWOT analysis is definitely good starting point. Competition may not be coming from the same product class but maybe from substitute, such as, tea v/s coffee. The point here is that not to narrow down competition too much as to lose focus. In recent time apparel industry has facing competition from consumer electronics industry, as people are willing to spend buck on iPod, HDTV to make style statement and not clothes.
Point of difference could be defining in terms of the way consumer thinks for a given brand. These are the points which will make the brand stand out from competition. Point of difference is like unique selling proposition and this difference can be in form of appearance, predictable performance, quality, better customer service. For example Wal-Mart, faces competition not only from Target but also from Macyâ€™s and Shawâ€™s. But point of difference is the product range it can offer at competitive prices compared to other stores.
Points of similarity are common traits essential to make sure that consumer understand the product. It helps in enforcing a simple point of identifying product within product class. This becomes important especially if brand is in extension mode and looking to enter another category. This is more prevalent in consumer goods industry, such as Old Spice earlier it was focus on shaving product but later moved to grooming products like deodorants.
Brand positioning is very important step in establishing customer based brand equity. Target market, Knowing competitors, Point of difference and Point of similarity together add to strategic branding process.