Find out how brand vectors, a tool used to graphically map the perceptions of your organization, can help you visually differentiate your brand from your competitors and create alignment.
Episode Show Notes
Introduction To Brand Vectors
(0:00 – 2:10) Introduction To Iterative Marketing Podcast: Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast, where, each week, hosts Steve Robinson and Elizabeth Earin provide marketers and entrepreneurs with actionable ideas, techniques, and examples to improve marketing results. The topic of this episode, Brand Vectors, is introduced using the example of a TV commercial for Whirlpool.
The resources discussed on the show can be found at brilliantmetrics.com, which includes a blog and a LinkedIn group for community interaction.
(2:10 – 3:41) Measuring Your Brand’s Position with Brand Vectors: The brand vector is a concept developed by Brilliant Metrics to visualize and measure a brand’s specific personality attribute or market position on a continuum. Unlike traditional brand awareness methods, brand vectors offer a spectrum to help identify where a brand stands. This tool enables teams to understand their brand’s position better and communicate it effectively. For example, if a brand identifies as free-spirited, a brand vector can show how free-spirited it is compared to the opposite extreme, helping to put the brand’s personality into perspective.
Visualization, Alignment, and Strategy with Brand Vector Surveys
(3:41 – 5:38) Visualizing Brand Vectors: To help visualize a brand vector, imagine a line with two believable extremes at each end, such as stodgy and free-spirited or cheap and luxurious. Your brand’s position is determined by where it sits along that continuum. It’s important to consider multiple vectors to create a comprehensive picture of your brand’s place in the market. This method allows for quantitative measurement of your brand beyond aided and unaided awareness. By tracking these numbers, you can understand your brand’s position and momentum over time.
(5:38 – 6:15) Establishing Alignment with Brand Vector Surveys: Brand vector surveys help establish alignment by measuring perspectives from different groups, such as senior leadership, marketing department, employees, existing customers, and near misses. This approach offers a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s position and ensures that all stakeholders’ opinions are taken into account.
(6:15 – 8:00) Internal and External Alignment: Using brand vector surveys, it’s important to consider both internal and external alignment. This approach not only focuses on the organization’s external brand image but also on the perspectives of employees who live the brand daily. The goal is to achieve a tight cluster of dots on the line, indicating alignment across all stakeholder groups. Adding competitors to the analysis provides an extra dimension, helping to identify differentiation points and inform strategy. Ultimately, understanding how your brand is differentiated from competitors can lead to more effective positioning in the market.
The Process of Creating a Brand Vector
(8:43 – 9:24) Starting with Senior Leadership: The process of creating a brand vector starts with engaging senior leadership to gain their perspective on the organization’s position. Involving them early on ensures their buy-in and helps avoid potential conflicts within the organization. The first step is to gather their input on where they place their “dots” and reach a consensus.
(9:24 – 10:16) Understanding Competitors: A full brand audit may not be feasible when examining competitors for brand vector creation. Instead, review competitors’ websites and literature, and consult salespeople who have encountered them in the field. Former employees of competitors can also provide valuable insights. Additionally, checking the career section of competitors’ websites can reveal information about their culture, which can further inform the brand vector analysis.
(10:16 – 11:20) Prioritizing and Measuring for Alignment: After mapping competitors, identify the most important and manageable vectors for your brand and market position. The crucial final step involves measuring these vectors by surveying employees, customers, near misses, and senior leadership to determine their respective “dots” on the line. This process aims to achieve tight groupings for alignment.
Selecting Key Vectors
(11:20 – 12:32) Strategic Selection of Brand Vectors: The trickiest part of the brand vector process is selecting the most important vectors. These can be divided into two categories: brand personality and market position. When choosing vectors, ensure they represent two believable extremes so that brands can take a position on either side. Download our free Brand Vector Guide to help select the vectors that align with your brand.
(12:32 – 15:13) Utilizing Brand Personality Vectors to Establish Emotional Connections: Brand personality vectors aim to communicate an emotional position, resonating with customers and establishing trust. Examples of brand personality vectors include informal vs. formal, plain-spoken vs. fluffy language, and corporate vs. entrepreneurial. The goal is to identify attributes that will attract or repel consumers, helping to define the brand’s identity and communication style.
(15:13 – 18:04) Identifying Market Position Vectors: Market position vectors help determine what sets your brand apart from competitors in a more rational decision-making process. These vectors are usually based on one of the three fundamentals of market positioning: better, faster, or cheaper. When selecting the right vectors, focus on those that resonate with your customers, position you away from the middle (with a few exceptions), and highlight your brand’s differentiation from competitors. By identifying the right market position vectors, you can better understand and leverage your brand’s competitive advantages.
Aligning Brand Vectors
(18:04 – 20:32) Evaluating Groupings and Adjusting Course: Once you have gathered data on your chosen brand vectors, it’s important to analyze the tightness of the groupings. If the dots representing employees, senior leadership, and customers are all in alignment, your brand is on the right track. However, if the dots are not aligned, adjustments need to be made. It’s important to remember that the customer’s position should be treated as the “lighthouse” – the hardest to move and the one around which adjustments should be made. By evaluating these groupings and making necessary changes, you can better align your brand and its messaging with the expectations and desires of your target audience.
(20:32 – 22:49) Aspirational Vectors and Aligning Brand Components: Aspirational vectors are an exception to the rule when it comes to brand alignment. Brands can and should evolve in response to market changes and competitors. However, it’s crucial to limit the number of aspirational vectors to avoid confusing your target audience. Tight alignment between senior leadership, employees, and customers is necessary before pursuing aspirational vectors. If adjustments are needed, moving the senior leadership’s expectations or launching internal branding campaigns to align employees can be beneficial. In cases where you want to shift the market’s perception, traditional brand activation campaigns can be employed to influence your audience’s emotional or logical understanding of your brand.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
(22:49 – 24:05) Addressing Overlapping Brand Vectors with Competitors: When your brand vectors overlap with competitors, it may not be a major issue if it’s only one vector. However, multiple overlapping vectors, particularly with the same competitor, may require a strategic approach to differentiate your brand. Consider making changes, acquiring the competitor’s firm, or substituting vectors to emphasize differentiation. Auditing your existing branding materials and focusing on areas where you are different can help establish your unique position in the market.
(24:05 – 24:57) Regularly Evaluating Brand Vectors for Changes in Perception: It is important to re-evaluate your brand vectors periodically to assess any changes in leadership, core values, employee interactions, or customer perception. Conducting this evaluation once a year is generally recommended, as it provides enough time for changes to occur without causing survey fatigue. Regular assessments ensure you have the most up-to-date data to make informed decisions about your brand’s position and marketing efforts.
Role of Brand Vectors in Re-Branding
(24:57 – 26:41) Using Brand Vectors as an Anchor when Re-Branding: Brand vectors play a crucial role in re-branding by helping companies focus on the aspects they want to change and measure progress. When going through a re-brand, it is important to start small and limit the number of vectors being altered to better manage the change and assess the impact on the market. The brand vector process acts as an anchor for all re-branding efforts, ensuring that changes go beyond just a new logo and delve into the emotions and feelings associated with the brand.
Join Us Next Time
(26:41 – 28:11) Conclusion: Next week’s discussion will delve into brand activation, exploring the process of engaging with and activating a brand once brand vectors have been defined.
The conversation will emphasize the importance of both the employee and customer-facing sides of brand activation, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of this crucial marketing process.
Have a great week and we’ll see you next time. This concludes this week’s episode. For notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to the Brilliant Metrics newsletter.
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The Iterative Marketing Podcast, a production of Brilliant Metrics, ran from February 2016 to September 2017. Music by SeaStock Audio. Learn more about Iterative Marketing and listen to other episodes on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.