3 tips to understand your brand vs competitors

Defining yourself in a crowded market is difficult. Customers have more choices then ever before, and ensuring that your brand not only stands out from the crowd but resonates as the right option is no small feat. So how can you better analyse what your competition is up to, how they’re doing it and ensure that your brand stands out? Here are three tips…

TIP 1: Brand Perceptions

Unlocking the emotional connection between your brand and your audience is tricky. What role does your brand play in their life? What are the perceived benefits? How do they really see you when compared to customers?

No matter how hard you might have worked to established yourself in the market, your brand perception lives and breathes in the hearts and minds of your current/potential customers. It’s a malleable asset to your business but one that is easily influenced by outside forces.

A great example of this would be Burberry. Burberry had built up an image over many decades as a high-end fashion brand famous for its check pattern, with a wide variety of products trading off of this brand recognition. In expanding their product line they opened themselves up to new markets, but this backfired. In the early 00’s their line of tracksuits and baseball caps became popular with a more ‘downmarket demographic’ and the brand became associated with cheaper knock-off items. Many “Chav” characters in popular media at the time were portrayed dressed in Burberry clothes. It took the best part of the decade for them to recover from this big shift in brand perception. At great expense they have to buy back previous licenses so as to gain full control over their product line, and began to refocus the brand back on the luxury goods and overcoats they were originally known for. This shows you just how powerful perception can be and how easy it can be to undermine.

In order to dig deeper into how people really see your brand, we can run a whole series of different tasks through our insight platform ex-plor including; implicit associates tests, guided journeys through emotional and sensory brand connections and image association and metaphor tasks.

TIP 2: Market Mapping

It might sound a little obvious, but it’s always a good idea to understand where your brand sits in the wider market place. The way in which we all consume products and information is unrecognisable from even five years ago and the sheer volume of new entrants into every category means that markets are in a constant state of flux. This is why its always useful to take a temperature check, and ensure that you are the right side of relevant. By overlapping market and consumer trends you can understand wider areas for expansion and tap into new ideas and innovations. You can also look at what messages are being adopted at a wider level and how new entrants are looking to differentiate themselves with their offering.

TIP 3: Brand switching trials

While our first two solutions have focused on customer’s wider perceptions of your brand and products, our last is a great bit of primary qual research. We ask real customers to swap over their favourite brands for a competitor and use diary tasks to log their experiences and impact. This allows you to dig deeper into daily habits and occasions and better understand purchasing decisions. There may be a whole host of practical reasons why people choose a competitor brand over you. It could be shelf positioning, availability, perhaps a competitor brand has a celeb endorsement that they prefer. Brand switching trials are a great way of highlighting the differences and examining the thought process behind purchasing decisions, thoughts which may never have been obvious to even the consumer themselves! The great thing about using our platform ex-plor for diary tasks is that we make it really easy for people. They can upload photos, screenshots or take little videos which tasks a lot less daunting.

While it is never healthy to get hung up on your competition, its only by understanding what your brand means in a wider context that you can begin to assess which messages are getting through, which need more focus and areas to tweak and test.

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