Repositioning your brand

By Tom Dougherty

Your brand repositioning is different from rebranding

Brand repositioning and rebranding share many strategic considerations. And one can dramatically turn INTO the other. But brand repositioning leaves many existing marketing and sales tools in place.

As a result, brand repositioning is a cost-effective means of growing your market share. It is a focused tool designed to change behavior. Where rebranding is like a sledgehammer, repositioning is like a mallet. Especially in tough economic times or in cases of unexpected disruptions like COVID-19.

Broad thinking

When is the time to reposition your brand? The odds are right now is the time if you are reading this article. Something is not working or there has been an unforeseen disruption to the market. Market share is shrinking. Successful brands may be challenging your market position. Or something about the target audience changes suddenly.

So, it’s time to take stock of your brand’s value propositions and reimagine the reasons a prospect should choose differently.

Challenge all your assumptions

brand repositioningBrand repositioning takes guts, especially now. As a result, to reposition effectively, you must be willing to challenge all the accepted and perceived brand values. EVERYTHING is fair game. When markets or the audience changes, especially to the degree we have seen lately, doing what you have always done isn’t going to improve anything.

You have a problem. Identifying the solution requires a dispassionate view. And most brand repositioning failures are traceable to self-fulfilling blindness.

Because Stealing Share is unbiased and objective we look at what IS. Not what we want to be true.

Research. Research and more research.

If you have ever been the smartest guy in the room, you understand that has limitations. Invested people need proof. And there is no room for supposition in brand repositioning. Certainty in the research, especially in uncertain times, is your only ally.

Arming yourself with projectable market research addresses that weakness. So, instead of being the smartest guy in the room, you are the best-informed person in the room. Speaking with the clarity of the customer’s perceptions clears the way to change.

As a result, we always conduct market research.

Brand Positioning Research

You don’t need or want focus groups. They are worthless at best and deceiving at worst. So, I don’t care how skilled the moderator pretends to be.

brand repositioning

And the results are not projectable. You need a mixture of blinded qualitative one-on-one qualitative interviews, behavioral modeling, and double-blinded quantitative research. These tests your assumptions. And they NEED testing.

Research questions

brand repositioningOur research company, Resultant Research, has taught us much over the years. And because of that tutelage, we rarely ask open-ended questions. Experience teaches us that open-ended questions provide worthless answers.

So, let’s pretend for a moment that you are a beer brand. And let’s assume you need to reposition your brand to increase preference and grow your share.

What questions should you ask?

Brand repositioning to increase preference requires insights. As a result, it feels right to ask why the beer drinker prefers the brand of beer they drink. But nothing could be more useless.

Target audiences make up reasons

So, go ahead and ask the beer drinker why they prefer the brand of beer they drink. And, they will tell you “I like the taste.”

Duh. No kidding. So, beer drinkers like the taste of the beer they drink? Who would have thought? And we thought beer drinkers HATE their favorite beer. A few respondents might tell you it’s the cheapest. And a few will tell you they have no favorite. Beer brand managers KNOW that the reason for preference is not taste.

It may be an affinity for a brand message. And it might be the style. 

The problem is beer drinkers can’t tell most beers from the rest except for style. Because taste is the least acute memory sense.

Reinventing the brand’s position

Brand repositioning requires you to first understand the underlying problem. Then you must reevaluate the brand’s permissions while identifying barriers to trial and acceptance. It demands that you reflect your target audience’s values.

This is about more than price and awareness.

brand repositioning

So, we create the quantitative questionnaire strategically. Because we model behavior, we test the brand’s propositions. We do this in more than one way and test multiple hypotheses. Then we ask questions on a Likert scale.

Why? Because repositioning your brand demands that you learn intensities, not simply agreement or dissonance.

Brand Repositioning. Compare intensities. 

Using Likert scales in your research allows you to accurately compare apples to oranges. After all, you seek the highest emotional intensity. You seek a hook that positions the brand into the considered set. And the hook moves it to preference.

brand repositioning.004
As a result, we do most of the strategic work BEFORE we field the quantitative research. We take more time in creating the study than we do in fielding it. Likert scales demand that you have specific ideas and hypotheses to test.

Brand repositioning research does not uncover opportunities. It is the validation and testing of new suppositions.

Steve Jobs was correct

brand repositioningRemember, he said consumers don’t know what they want until they see it. Dead on. And this is even more true in uncertain times, like with the Coronavirus.

So, in repositioning research, you MUST show them new values, emotional connections, and posited switching triggers. You must test the intensity of all of them.

As a result, the research requires strategy. It never directs it.

Strategy comes first. The research comes second. Validation comes next and execution comes last.

What will you need to reposition the brand?

You need openness. A willingness to change anything that stands in the way of the brand’s success.

That may include an identity change (rebranding). But it will certainly include adjustment to positioning and meaning. Rebranding becomes necessary ONLY when fertile new ground is, in the eyes of the prospect, NOT within reach of current brand believability.

The space must be malleable enough to change permissions.

Truth well told

brand repositioningWe often speak about changing human behavior. This is still the case but the idea itself might mislead you.

Brand repositioning means the BRAND’S behavior must change. (Read about brand persuasion here.) The perception of the brand’s permissions reflects the emotional fabric of the target. Not the other way around.

What your brand ultimately owns is a believable and trusted relationship with the customer. Knowing their intensities is how you do it.

If you want to learn more and change your brand’s position. Contact us.


See more posts in the following related categories: brand preference Marketing preference repositioning brands repositioning you brand