If you’re looking to conduct a brand research project, brandmaps are a great, simple, brand auditing tool that explores the competitive landscape. This gives you an overview of your brand and the competition. At Sapio, we use a unique statistical technique and specialist software to build these accurate and valuable maps.
What is a brand map?
A brand map is a visual display of data that shows customer (or potential customer) perceptions of brands relative to their competition. A number of brand descriptors (or attributes) are used to build up these perceptions – these often differ by the type of brands and market. The maps are in effect 3D data displayed in a 2D format.
Why use a brand map?
They are an easy way of identifying:
- The perceptions of individual brands and attributes associated with them
- How brands differ from their competitors
- Which brands are most similar
- Areas of “white space” where brands can make plans to move to differentiate themselves from the competition
Knowing how your brand is perceived can help you understand who your main competitors are, if your current marketing messaging is having an effect on perceptions, and what changes you need to make to your messaging in order to differentiate your brand from the others.
The beauty of this approach is that it looks at your brand in relation to the competitive set and reflects any changes they have made, as well as work you’ve done. Repeating the review regularly means you can keep a track on the impact of their activities as well as your own.
We can even take it a step further and ask respondents what they think the ideal brand should look like and map that too.
How do you read a brand map?
- The longer the attribute line, the more of a differentiator it is for a brand. Here we see that “Collaborative” has a relatively short line. This means brands scored similarly for this factor, so it’s not a differentiating factor.
- The closer a brand is to the end of a line, the more associated it is with that factor. For example, here we can see Brand E is strongly associated with being “Great Price” or “Great Social responsibility” and Brand A is associated with “Understanding Business”.
- The closer a brand is to the centre of the map, the more likely it does not have many differentiating factors compared to the competition, or that it can be described by many factors. This could be said of Brand C and D.
- The closer brands are together, the more similar they are. For example, Brand B and Brand A are both seen as “Understanding Business” and “Professional”.
- If the list of brands is comprehensive, blank spaces on the map can show where no brands occupy specified characteristics. For example, no brand on our map is strongly associated with being “Essential for Business Growth” and “Smooth Sales Process”. If a new brand entered the market with these attributes, it would likely differentiate itself from the competition.
What is a qualitative brand map?
A qualitative brand map is a relatively recent addition to our services, but we think it’s another excellent tool to help clients understand how their brand is different from the competition.
We would use a qualitative brand map when our research methodology has been in-depth interviews. In order to do develop a qualitative brand map, part of the depth interview will be focused on how the brand in question compares to its (perceived) key competitors across a range of areas and attributes.
Once we have finished fieldwork, we move on to the analysis of the information and data collected. Specifically, we look at words and attributes used by participants to describe the brand and its competitors, with a key focus on what a brand does well/not so well compared to others. This process allows us to create the ‘data’ that we can then use to create the brand map.
Although we need use some personal judgment to determine the differentiating attributes, the wider context and familiarity with the rest of the findings will help determining key differentiators and brand positioning. Ultimately, we’ve found this to be a highly effective method of determining a brand’s position in regard to its competition.