Analyzing Brand Position for Opportunity

A process for analyzing brand position

Image of the road when analyzing brand position

When looking at a category when you are developing a brand position and message to steal market share it is of vital importance that you develop models for assessing opportunity. The starting point is always analyzing brand position. This is how we begin every rebranding and branding project.

In looking for market opportunity you must understand the positions claimed by the competitors in that category. Most brand positioning mistakes are made because the brand themselves refuse to see the market dispassionately. If you expect to find opportunity you must be challenging to your own assertions.

Analyzing Brand Position is it sales or marketing?
Your arguments must not be sales arguments

Analyzing Brand Position starts with brand arguments
Create a series of arguments








You need to define the market by what IS not by what you hope it will be.

Chart analyzing brand arguments
Create as many that make sense

More often than not, competitors claim very similar values. This is because most marketers see the value in terms of the product and benefits. So if you are selling TV sets, you see the category in terms of price, screen size, built in applications, refresh rate, and 3D or 2D. As a result, most brands will occupy space, if not directly upon the space of the competition, directly adjacent to the competitive space.

Analyzing Brand Position

Think about this as an exercise in brand positioning. Think about it as if it were a real estate transaction. Generally speaking two like homes, one on an acre of land and one on a 50×50 lot will have different value, all else being equal. The reason for this value difference is because of space between the home and the neighbor. The same is true of brand positions. The more space between your brand and the competitors the better. Of course, the space you occupy must also be valued by the prospect.

Questions to Ask Yourself when Analyzing Brand Position

We start the process by looking at every competitor

  1. What do they claim?
  2. Who do they say they are for?
  3. Why do they claim to represent what they claim?
  4. How do they prove the claim?
  5. What do they say about themselves?
  6. How do they represent their claim (humor, directness etc.)?

We record these claims as a series of line graphs. It is important, when graphing a brand or marketing claim, to be sure that the opposite claim is still aspirational. Look for a descriptor that identifies an opposite value as important. If you cannot find an opposite claim then it is a sales argument and not a marketing or brand argument. A sales person may be able to claim best because sales, as a function, are personal. But a brand argument must be universally fair. A real brand argument is defensible on both sides of the equation.

We Build a Graph of the Market Space and Build a Working 2D Model

Chart Analyzing brand arguments in 2 Dimensions
An example of the TV manufacturer category

When analyzing brand position we construct a series of 2D graphs comparing the claims and placing the competitors in the quadrant that they most closely claim as their own. There will be many of these charts and choosing the correct one requires experience. The winner will be clearly delineated and represent the values held in highest intensity by those the brand needs to influence. Figuring this out is one of the reasons we always conduct projectable market research. We need to KNOW what the prospect values. Guesswork is for others.

When Analyzing Brand Position we add a 3D Axis to Make it Real

3D Model of a marketThen we work with our behavioral modeling to identify the highest emotional intensity that drives the prospect to switch or choose. This represents our emotional Brand Line. It dissects the 2D graph and creates a three dimensional representation of the market. Positioning the brand becomes clearer in a 3D representation of the market because the prospect’s highest emotional intensity is accounted for.

This is a difficult and challenging process. However, it begins to shed light on the opportunity in the category and provides the reason to rebrand as a reflection of that opportunity.3D Graph with emotional brand

Creating the Brand

From this point on when analyzing brand position, the design and symbols of that brand perspective needs to be inculcated in everything the brand does or claims. It provides the basis for your brand charter and provides the marketing momentum to direct advertising and communication.

From this position the logo should represent that singular idea. Remember that the logo is about the brand not the company’s corporate identity. This is a transformational moment for brands out of the old school. This new brand is about persuasion and switching triggers and should also be reflected in your brand theme line. The theme line is a spoken form of the logo. It provides clarity, should refuse to be clever and represents the single most important thing you can say about the brand that causes a change to take place in the target audience.

by Tom Dougherty


Read more on brand positioning here

Brand Positioning Strategy

Make your brand positioning persuasive



TriVantage Textile Distribution. Customers of TriVantage are awning and marine fabricators and installers who need their orders quickly and without complication. Stealing Share combined the utility of logistics with the feeling of expression to create a brand that inspires and acknowledges.

Brand Naming. What are the rules? How important is it?


By Tom Dougherty

We spend a lot of time dispelling the myths of branding. We tell companies to define their brands by the customers they wish to influence more than by the attributes of the company itself. We talk continually about how brand is so much more than just a name, logo and mark, and how the importance of that brand is so much more important than the mundane attributes usually associated to it.

brand naming needs to follow the strategy
Names are often given to much importance

That said, let’s digress a bit and look at one of the more mundane aspects of brand and how even in this obvious and traditional component most companies screw up.

We have been known to lecture on brand naming and how, in the relative value equation of branding, the process is overrated. We poke a little fun at companies that insist on “focus grouping” name ideas and how all they end up with is something so inoffensive it becomes unmemorable. That’s because it is the very things that strike us as odd that often form the basis for memory and recall.

I remember one client who wanted to run names through a focus group until we suggested that they pretend for a moment that they were starting a rental car company and the name they wanted was HERTZ. My guess is that the focus group would have said, “Terrible name. Sounds like pain to me.” The company would no doubt have scrapped that name and come up with a different less disturbing name like ACME.

How a Brand Name Can Have Value

We preach that names have value and meaning only when the brand assigns some to it. I would rather have a great name and a powerful brand but, given the choice between the two, we would err on the side of brand as opposed to name.

At the risk of making light on the situation even more, let’s explore naming further. From the standpoint of powerful branding, where you start will certainly affect where you end up, and it is important to get out of your own way when going through the process.

When creating a name for the brand, think about what need the potential customer is buying instead of what it is you sell and then you are off to a good start. (Read more about changing a brand name and why it may not be important here)
An example of this expanded view of the relationship between buying and selling can be seen in Anderson Windows. Anderson’s big break occurred when it dawned on the manufacturer that no one buys windows for the sake of having windows. Consumers buy “light,” which brings a happy, optimistic emotion. Once Anderson positioned their brand as the purveyors’ of light, it became the market leader.

The same kind of foresight should be applied to brand naming. When you consider your brand name, try to anticipate what the customer is buying not what it is you are selling. There is a difference, and one of the most important ones to consider in the art of stealing market share.

Looking at It the Wrong Way

brand naming can't be focus group tested
Form follows function in naming

The latest offender is Lufthansa. When flying back from a business trip to France a few weeks ago, one of our strategists spent an hour in the Lufthansa Club Lounge in Frankfurt. Like all airlines, Lufthansa was pushing its frequent flyer program hoping flyers would get chained to Lufthansa with a pair of golden handcuffs by joining its affinity program. Airlines named these programs in very concrete terms based on what they were selling, not what flyers were buying: Free miles.

Soon, the airlines discovered that offering people who flew tremendous amounts of miles free miles for their miles was a bit narrow minded. Miles alone was not enticing enough, so they added “plus” and “more” to the name.

For Lufthansa, it meant naming the affinity program “Miles and More” and, for United, “Mileage Plus!” Sounds a lot like the bank selling “super free checking.”

All that says is that the brand itself has no vision. They started thinking it was enough to name themselves based on what they were selling, not what consumers are buying. It’s as if Greyhound had named itself “Bus Trip.”

Sooner or later, brands find their names so limiting they start adding adjectives like “plus” or “more.” Those have no meaning to target audiences because it’s so ill defined.

How much of an epidemic is this brand naming blindness? Once you start noticing it, it is everywhere. This means the opportunities for brands to steal market share is limitless.

This is why the market is filled with: Used Books and More, Home Furniture & More, Miles and more, Just Riddles and More, Batteries Plus, Mothers and More, Cosmetics and More, Tires Plus, Beverages and More, Cutlery and More, Paper and More, Total Wine & More, Bedrooms and More, Music and More, Hearth Cabinets and More and, our personal favorite, Bed Bath and Beyond.

Brand Strategy Propels New ProAssurance Brand

A New Brand Strategy for ProAssurance

Brand firm conducts study of medical professionals, positions insurance company

GREENSBORO, NC – January 6th, 2009 – Stealing Share, Inc., a brand development firm that helps companies create brands to steal market share from competitors, recently finished a year-long branding project for ProAssurance Corporation. ProAssurance, a professional liability insurance company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama (with offices throughout the country) is now poised to continuously focus on ways to deliver fairness to its customers.

The ProAssurance brand Logo
The New ProAssurance Logo with the brand theme

To create ProAssurance’s new brand identity, Stealing Share conducted research with medical professionals from 10 states and Washington D.C. to uncover what was most important to them, especially in relation to ProAssurance and its competitors.

The result is an increased focus for ProAssurance, the fifth-largest insurer of its kind in the U.S. The new brand is encapsulated in its new logo and brand themeline, which states “Treated Fairly.” The logo shows a new way to think about insurance, revealing a dark green to bright green that symbolizes an ongoing promise of “fairness” in the way ProAssurance customers can expect to be treated.

“We dug into what physicians felt about insurance companies and what they wanted most, and the insights were very revealing,” said Tom Dougherty, CEO of Stealing Share. “It has always been our goal to reveal a brand for our clients that’s actionable, able to steal market share from the competition by being positioned against that competition, true about the brand and most meaningful to the target audience in order to create preference.”

Look at the ProAssurance Brand Case Study Here

Read the Insurance Industry Marketing Study Here

Is there Opportunity in the Insurance Category? Read about it here.

About Stealing Share
Stealing Share is a brand development firm that designs brands so they steal market share from the competition. Located in Greensboro, N.C. and New York City, Stealing Share conducts research and provides actionable brand strategies, positioning and brand design for clients to create preference among target audiences. More information can be found at or by calling 336-389-9315.