An important component to branding, is to understand your competition and where you fit into the market. Every consumer has a frame of reference. When a consumer is faced with a choice, they mentally review the reference material that’s associated with that decision. When you understand the frame of reference a consumer has with your product or service, you can determine what messaging is important to influence that decision.
- An important component to branding is to understand your competition and where you fit into the market. When a consumer is faced with a choice, they mentally review the reference material that's associated with that decision. We understand and remember information by linking it to things we already know. Purchasing decisions are made based on benefits or the perception of benefit. When you understand the frame of reference a consumer has with your product or service, you can determine what messaging is important to influence that decision.
Let's say I pull an object out of my pocket and you don't recognize it. It's a new piece of technology and it's unfamiliar. So I say, check out this new gadget. It's just like the iPhone. All of a sudden, you have a frame of reference for what I might be holding. You know what an iPhone is, and you know all of the features of an iPhone, so surely I'm holding some sort of smartphone. At this stage, your frame of reference will also dictate how you evaluate the product. You begin to compare what you know about the iPhone to what I'm holding in my hand.
Questions pop into your mind. Does it have apps? Is it touch screen? What's the battery life? All things you've already learned are important and all things you've compared when making a smartphone purchase. The way a brand is positioned and messaged will dictate a consumer's frame of reference. We all know Coca-Cola to be a beverage company. We'd have a hard time accepting Coke putting out a line of computers, just as much as we'd struggle to accept Apple producing a line of soda. These brands have an established frame of reference.
Too much deviation would be hard for the consumer to accept. So, one of the early steps in your branding project is to identify what frame of reference to use. Not only does this clarify your messaging, but it also dictates your competition. With your competition identified, you'll leverage your points of parity. These are any associations that aren't unique to your brand but shared among all brands in the space. Batteries, screens, and cameras are not unique to iPhones. All smartphones have those.
It's a point of parity at the category level. If you introduced a new device, set the frame of reference to be smartphones and then didn't have a touch screen or a camera, well the market wouldn't see you as having a credible offering. That said, you can also use those points of parity as a way to establish your advantage. Since you know what people expect, you'll be able to leverage statements like, better battery life than the iPhone six. World's most shatter-resistant screen. Three times clearer pictures than the Motorola Droid. Now this is very product-specific example.
But you can apply that same thought process to single architecture brands as well. Points of parity also work very well when your target customer is aware of the relationship between category-specific features but is unfamiliar to your brand. For example, if I launched a new restaurant and highlighted that it had features associated with the fast food category, customers would deduce that my restaurant is fast food. Take time to review what you want your frame of reference to be. You may decide to select a category that is more niche or even establish a new category.
You'll want to explore the competition and identify what they're using as their differentiation and what they see as the points of parity.
Explore best practices for researching, developing, visualizing, and managing your brand, and learn about incorporating your brand throughout various customer touchpoints and keeping tabs on your brand as your company grows.
- Components of branding
- Creating a brand strategy
- Conducting a brand audit
- Crafting your vision statement and selling position
- Evaluating brand visuals, colors, and language
- Enhancing brand touchpoints
- Measuring brand loyalty and equity