When creating a branding strategy it is important to take market share
You must steal share in with your branding strategy or your brand will die. If you are not growing you are dying. The marketing landscape has fundamentally changed in the past few decades. We would argue that there is no such thing as a purely immature market. Few new product and service offerings create a new category. Instead, products take share from an existing category.
Take the introduction of iPods and other MP3 players. Many marketers argue that they created a new category but, in fact, they simply changed an existing category – that of portable music players like Walkman, for example. What does this mean to your marketing and branding strategy? It means that if you wish to thrive and grow, you need to steal market share from a competitor or competitive product. You need to steal from whatever your target audience is doing now to fulfill a need.
Why stealing? Why not just growing?
Because successful brands know they need to be stealthy in their marketing. As Sun Tzu put it so well in The Art of War,” emerge to their surprise.” “Emerge to their surprise.” To successfully build a solid branding strategy, you must not tip your hand to the competition. You must be both deliberate and quiet, and attack the competition with all of the advantages of a B-2 Stealth Bomber.
Stealing market share is not underhanded. Stealing market share is just plain smart. So, if you want to grow your share and increase your category dominance, you need to steal the hearts and minds of the customers who currently satisfy their preceptive needs to the benefit of your competitors.
How do you steal share in your branding strategy?
Only by creating a consistent branding strategy for all your communication that focus solely upon that single brand purpose of stealing share.
First, you must understand that developing a brand to steal share requires a multi-pronged attack. You must excite both the right and left-brain of your target audience. This means including the right-brain elements of aesthetics and emotion while also including the left-brain elements of truth, logic and reason. Your brand is a selling argument and it needs to muster all of the persuasive elements it can and be armed to the hilt with them.
As your brand is created, every execution must be built around the notion of stealing market share, not just to tell a funny or creative story to entertain the market. Stealing Share is about developing strategies for our clients based on projectable market research and competitive analysis, while identifying attractive positions within the market, reinforcing that positioning, and narrowing the marketing strategy to focus only on the customer. It requires understanding and mapping the belief systems of the target audience so that the main touch points of aesthetics, emotion, logic, reason and truth are all addressed.
The best creative work is done with those goals in mind. Decisions on public relations, for example, are affected by the stealing share concept, which can guide companies in targeting publications, selecting stories to tell and developing key messages. Most strategies are about the company itself and its consumer products. To truly steal share, campaigns must be developed with the customer in mind. The campaigns are not about “you” or “it”; they are about them. We consider ourselves a powerful strategic company because we endeavor to change behavior of customers already buying in a particular market.
How does your branding strategy process work?
The entire brand development process is complex and takes committed collaboration between all the parties involved. In simple broad strokes, the process starts with careful due diligence and thoughtful market research. The market, which includes competitors and customers, must be understood completely, so that opportunities – both in marketing and in business – are precisely targeted.
Vulnerabilities of each competitor must be examined and understood. An understanding of the customers is vitally important, not only due to buying habits but also due to their personalities and systems of beliefs. These systems directly influence purchase decisions and preferences. To change behavior, you must understand their lifestyles and personal motivations. Only then can a company deploy positioning that can be communicated clearly. The effect of which is measurable in numbers.
In doing market research, how do you measure the differences in advertising messages?
Market research is a fundamental tool when creating a branding strategy to steal share. Essentially, you do that by charting them (See the chart at right for an example.) First, we develop an axis as the basis of the chart, making sure we take a step back and create one that’s fair and honest. The chart should be designed so it reflects the wants and needs of the customers, not necessarily the terrain embraced by the industry insiders. A chart developed from careful research can often show that markets are cluttered in one area or another, thus pinpointing an area of opportunity. If the axis has been developed with the customer in mind, the brand will be effective in seizing that opportunity.
Doesn’t most brand work and advertising steal share?
Stealing Share focuses on what the market desires and what the market leader is neglecting. You’d be surprised how little of it does. More often than not advertising fails to steal share and brand development ignores the business needs completely. Most strategies and executions are aimed at the company itself or mimic the market leader. Messages and positions are spent strictly on what the company feels about its product, not what customers feel about themselves or want to believe to be true about themselves. That’s why so much advertising today is built around product benefits. That’s not now people choose.
Stealing Share focuses on what the market desires and what the market leader is neglecting. Stealing Share does not confuse the business of the company with the business of the brand. Function and category is different from identity and feeling. The business of the company is what most advertising and marketing campaigns are built around. The business of the brand is what the company and its products feel like and mean to the customer.