Apple, presently a $2 trillion company, enjoys a huge loyal fan following which rushes to purchase almost all products it releases. One may argue that competing brands like Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, etc may or may not have better phones. But they have failed in brand mapping their market position among consumers to build a cult following like Apple.
Branding and positioning play a key role in nurturing Apple’s loyal customer base. So how does one compete with market players having a strong brand game?
To make space in a market dominated by one competitor, one needs to strategize based on brand identity and customer perception.
For this, brand mapping is a brand development framework marketers use to differentiate how their business can uniquely position in the market that overcomes competition. Read this article to further understand how you can conduct brand mapping analysis for your business.
What is Brand Mapping?
A brand map refers to a data representation that shows business owners how their customers view their business. It includes a summary of insights into other businesses and customers in a particular industry.
The other name for brand mapping is a perceptual map or a correspondence map because a brand map is a questionnaire. It contains certain questions and qualities about a business that its users and potential customers can answer.
Why is brand mapping important?
People often say ignorance is bliss. That might be true in some cases but definitely not in the context of an entrepreneur who wants to scale a business.
Brand mapping, if done correctly, provides insights into two major stakeholders in the business world — customers & competitors.
First, it functions as a visual data form that lets business owners have an idea of what their customers think of their business. Second, it is also an eye-opener into what their competitors are doing right or wrong. Doing so helps you develop a competitor parity strategy to further align with the market’s expectations.
Using information from brand mapping, businesses can go ahead to make profit-making decisions.
Here are some other major advantages of brand mapping:
Brand mapping helps you communicate better
Whether you are about to introduce your customers to a new product or you want to inform them of a service you no longer offer, efficient brand mapping can help you communicate this correctly.
Preparing a brand map helps you find the voice that you can imbibe in your marketing creatives and press releases. It helps you to say and do the things your users want to hear and see in the exact ways your users expect them.
Brand mapping helps you uniquely stand out in the market
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor can help you position your brand to their blind spots. In the world today, originality is scarce and most products or services share way too many similarities. By conducting brand mapping analysis, you can strategize to stand out from the noise and clutter.
Brand mapping improves your brand story to make your business relatable
The results of brand mapping provide insights that are useful for coming up with branded content across their online and offline properties. It helps set up a brand story around your business’s vision, mission, and products that your target audience can relate to. A consistent brand story eventually compounds to build a loyal brand following.
Brand mapping gives your business a sense of direction
If you are just starting off with your marketing plans and strategies, it’s important to consider brand mapping to get the bigger picture. It helps visualize how the business may look like when you pick up certain strategies. It helps set goals, such that companies can easily navigate the steps needed to achieve their desired business metrics.
How to create a brand map
Creating a brand map isn’t as easy as the definition makes it look. Being a very delicate process, creating a brand map requires a level of expertise and there are a handful of online resources to guide business owners. It is advised to consult a professional branding expert to create a thorough brand map.
In subsequent paragraphs, this article will help you get started with the major steps involved in creating an efficient brand map.
Pick your variables
The first step to creating a brand map is to choose the determinants or variables. You can do this by using your skills and experience in the market to draw out the determinants or by relying on the results of a trusted market study.
Determining these variables is similar to the process of cataloging in a library. Knowing the keywords associated with your business helps you categorize them well for decision-making. The other name for this process is segmentation style.
1. Reliable, Durable, Efficient
2. Comfortable, Quality, Stylish
3. Sturdy, Strong, Efficiency
Identify your competitors
After you have selected your determinant, the next thing to do is to curate a list of your competitors in the industry. This list doesn't have to be extensive or contain all the other businesses in your industry. It only has to carry 5 to 10 businesses. It is also important that these businesses do the exact same thing as yours so you can get an accurate analysis of your brand’s placement in the industry.
Here are some examples of the things you look at when identifying your competitors:
Products: What are the goods or services they are selling to their customers
Pros and Cons: Make a critical assessment of the things they are doing right or wrong.
Market placement: Find out if they are market leaders and if they are not, check their performance in comparison to that of the market leaders.
Brand Strategies: Keep a track of their latest campaigns, brand promotions, and partnerships to understand what’s working for them.
The third and final step in brand mapping is score creation for the chosen brands. Remember the determinants/variables you selected earlier? Put them in a tabular form and as a basis for allocating scores or ratings for the rival brands.
Your end result should look like this:
When all these steps are completed, what you will have is a solid brand map that you can use to make decisions for your business. You can add more variables as per the tracked business metrics and compare your positioning across competitors to get a more detailed brand map.
You can enrich your analysis by calculating your brand development index. It will help you further determine how strongly your brand performs in various market segments you target.
Questionnaire for conducting Brand Mapping exercise
To have an accurate brand map, it is important to gather insights from your customers. You can simply hand over a curated questionnaire for them to answer.
The answer to these questions will clarify how your customers perceive your business. Here are some examples of the questions you can ask your customers as a part of the Brand mapping process:
What three words will you use to describe our brand?
Will you refer our brand to other people?
Do you consider our brand memorable?
When you think of our brand what comes to mind first?
Where does our brand rank in terms of efficiency and reliability?
Do you think our pricing system is great compared to our competitors?
How can we serve you better?
What is the one thing our brand has that you don’t find in other businesses?
How did you find out about us?
What quality would you like us to take from a competitor’s business?
How to draw insights from a brand map
It is not enough to make a brand map. Businesses must know how best to use a brand map to draw logical conclusions and make the right decisions. There are two ways by which businesses can make use of brand mapping to make decisions – quantitative and qualitative data collection.
Quantitative data as the name suggests refers to statistics, facts, and figures. All of these can be used by businesses as a metric for measuring the following – digital customer engagement, product usage and adoption, and understanding the effectiveness of your sales strategies.
Having information on how often your customer visits your webpage and how long they spend will help you make a decision to design a page that keeps users hooked to your website.
This refers to data that is received from brand mapping that appeals more to the emotional aspects of the customers. Qualitative data is used mainly to deduce customer perception and figure out what inspires them to buy your goods and services.
For instance, if a lot of customers mention a certain attribute or determinant in their answer to the questionnaire, it is ideal for business owners to look into such attributes and work on being better at it.
Tools for brand mapping
As stated earlier, the process of brand mapping can be quite tasking and a level of expertise is required for it to be done well. To lessen the burden involved in the process, here are some tools that can help with brand mapping.
Group map is a generalist paid tool that can be used to perform a variety of functions for brands that includes brand mapping. They provide users with different templates to choose from and they are one of the most popular tools in this niche.
This tool is well suited for people that enjoy doing things by themselves. It is designed to walk you through the entire process of brand mapping from beginning to end. It is highly recommended by marketers mostly because it’s free.
This tool provides you with templates where you can import your data and attributes and use them. These templates come in different formats which give the user a plethora of options to choose from. Creately has both free and paid plans.
Get started with your branding with Brand Mapping
Brand map analysis is one of the concepts businesses around the globe are using to give themselves an edge over their competition. Although it is relatively new, the adoption and recommendation of brand mapping are increasing among many business industry experts. A properly executed brand mapping can make all the difference for your business’s marketing and growth efforts.