Brand Mapping: How to Do it & How it Gives a Competitive Edge to Your Company

Brand Mapping: How to Do it & How it Gives a Competitive Edge to Your Company
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: September 21, 2022

Heavy textual strategies can be difficult to gauge and integrate into the workflows. However, brand mapping can make them easier with a visual approach.

This guide details how brand maps work, how to implement the brand mapping method and how your business can benefit from it.

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What is a Brand Map?

A brand map is a visual data display that showcases current or potential customers’ brand perception compared to industry competitors. This helps compare the brand in an overall market context.

It creates a concise and visual summary of information, which helps with multiple aspects such as identifying competitors and their advantage.

Brand maps showcase detailed brand positioning while identifying perception metrics.

Brand perception can be anything: stylish, fun, adorable, or corporate. It may also include business goals, style, personality, and content marketing strategy while showing the business direction. Relevant insights also include in-depth knowledge about competitors with similar brand positions.

Brand descriptors or attributes are used to construct perceptions. The methods may be based on market and brand types. However, marketers should note that brand map representation is easier with fewer than three attributes.

How Does Brand Mapping Work?

Whether brands know it or not, they have a reputation, and brand mapping helps control it.

A differentiated brand communicates value, increases brand awareness, and justifies the price, which affects revenue and the bottom line. However, brand mapping strategies usually depend on industries, messaging, offerings, or objectives.

This visual representation helps brands to be positioned closely with other similar brands, and competitors to be directly compared with similar competitors. This determines which brands are linked to which attributes.

A thorough implementation of a brand map increases customer loyalty, offers a relatable brand identity, and improves customer image, which sets it apart from the competition.

Why is Brand Mapping Important?

Statistics show that 91% of consumers would prefer buying from an authentic brand, making it crucial for brands to ensure credibility and gain ROI.

Here’s how brand mapping can help substantially.

Brand map insights offer clarity to make decisions confidently, develop a strong brand position, identify marketplace gaps, refine messaging and build a robust strategy. They also help determine the brand’s current and desired position.

Although marketers may use the term “brand map,” researchers also refer to it as perceptual maps.

Brand maps may give you a wealth of data. This may include:

  • Brand perception
  • The competition perception
  • Messaging and attributes that are not currently owned by brands in the market

Brand maps may fail if brands’ market position is not simultaneously linked to business performance metrics such as pricing and sales.

Besides notable metrics such as market share, growth rate, and profitability, consumer perceptions are a crucial area that marketers may usually miss.

4 Ways Brand Mapping Helps Your Business

Brand maps can be conducted at regular intervals, ideally annually or after a major event, to get a clearer picture of the brand. They can be used to assess the brand impact and to track changes.

When done correctly, brand mapping helps businesses in the following ways.

#1: Bring Life to Data

Studies show that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Hence, not only does visual representation bring life to boring and overwhelming data, but it can also improve retention.

Apart from creating actionable plans, it helps proportion data to gauge competition efficiently.

For example, a renowned brand may attract high percentages on all attributes because of positive associations and recognition, leading to overdominance from larger brands and allowing analysis for smaller brands.

#2: Reveal Insights About Competitors and Industry

A brand map showcases the relevant position of the competition based on customers’ perceptions. Compelling attributes may also enable maximum differentiating facets among brands.

To get it right, brands should create multiple maps for the brand and marketplace with different and relevant attributes. These multiple mappings help evaluate the brand, marketplace, and customers through different lenses.

Learnings from the brand map help confirm specific brand strategies or strengths to identify efficient value locations.

#3: Communicate the Brand Direction

Besides insights, brand maps help define the desired future brand position, especially when a brand goes through a transition or changes its positioning. Brand maps offer a wealth of data that can clearly define a brand’s potential repositioning.

The following points can develop clearer brand communication:

  • Strategy alignment with the strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities
  • Clear expression of the unique value proposition
  • Building credibility for customers and compelling them
  • The degree of sustainability and defensiveness

#4: Confirm Alignment with Business and Brand Strategy

Brand mapping can improve alignment on the brand strategy by pivoting and adjusting the strategy as per current market conditions.

The following questions may help get a clearer picture:

  • Does the brand position align with the strategies, assets, and capabilities?
  • Does it offer a unique value?
  • Does it look credible and compelling to the audience?
  • Is it sustainable and defensive compared to the competitors?

Brand Mapping Method: Steps to Take to Map Your Brand

More than implementing brand maps, it is important to do it right! Here’s how to do it efficiently and effectively:

#1: Determine the Current Strategy

A basic question is: are you marketing the same products as before or a new product?

The current strategy may offer insights regarding your next move. Brands should begin with defining the ideal customer and the brand’s mission, values, and vision. Positioning the basics may demonstrate if both aspects overlap.

Likewise, brands should also check the brand proposition, persona, and tonality.

#2: Determine Attributes

Determinant attributes act as the brand map foundation.

It may include simple keywords that categorize products or services to attract the right demographic easily. Choose a list of areas where customer insights are required. Ideally, select 8-10 attributes that help audiences answer your question.

Brands may also use different attribute combinations and additional maps. Further, ensure relating questions to those attributes. For example, these questions can ask users to rate the reliability of your and your competitor’s brand.

These attributes help understand ideal customers that value those attributes, further helping discover direct competitors and brand segments.

#3: Identify the Competitors

Studies reveal that we are exposed to five times more information today than in 1986. This makes it even more important to set your brand apart from the competitors.

Creating a list of competitors helps identify key players in the market. Ideally, brands may choose 5-8 competitors and create customer insights and analysis.

This can be done through a competitor analysis, market survey/research, customer feedback, social media, and more.

Brands can also be located close to your business or with a similar brand message/vision, which ensures a perfect analysis of how a brand fits into the marketplace.

Determining the following factors may help:

  • The products to be sold
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Successful marketing strategies
  • Current market position

#4: Identify the Unique Value Proposition

Building a strong brand is based on a unique value proposition that showcases the key differentiating factor and what works best.

Conducting competitor research can clarify the patterns, which may enable brands to highlight similar patterns. This is a great opportunity to see if the competitor’s weakness can be your strength, making a unique point for brands to start.

#5: Create Scores

Creating scores for the brand being analyzed helps see where it fits in.

Initially, brands should have at least 200 responses for a clearer picture but aim for 1,000 responses.

For example, the size and similarity of a brand can be two determinants.

Furthermore, relevant brands can be assigned a value based on each aspect. Each brand will receive a number from one to five, which helps analyze the brand position. This helps you draw valuable insights and make vital business decisions.

#6: Process Information

After gathering the data, it is time to analyze it. Brands can figure out consumers’ brand perceptions. Other factors may include reliability, affordability, and other similar factors.

These brand market and competitor insights help brands innovate and improve their offerings.

Brand Mapping – Key Takeaways

Brands may often be clueless about their direction and positioning. This is why the brand mapping method is the way to go.

Brand maps are entirely customizable, including multiple brands and attributes.

It may be difficult for business owners to do it themselves as they may be occupied with other tasks, which is why brand agencies can step in. While it is an iterative process, creating and auditing them cannot be done in isolation. Marketers must also note that brand maps are indispensable for both B2B and B2C brands.

A brand’s position on the map can vary dramatically based on customer segment, region, and other factors. Regardless of where the brand falls on the map, its position should reflect a company’s strategy to ensure consistency with its business models.

Further research can help enhance the same by considering the importance of each attribute, which adds another layer to the brand map. This allows brands to understand the space they must occupy.

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