Battling for the consumer’s mind: Positioning & Reputation

Conveying a brand’s reputation to a target market is a fundamental marketing activity.  And, arriving at a unique positioning for that brand is also intrinsic to marketing.

You could say that both positioning and reputation lead to the consumer choosing your brand. Brand positioning, which forms the backbone of marketing, actually refers to target consumers’ reason to buy your brand, preferring it to others. It ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; that it is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.

Positioning shapes consumer preference

Brand positioning achieves some important parameters. It must make sure that the brand is unique and distinctive vis-a-vis competiton; that it is significant and encouraging to the niche market; that it is sustainable, and can it be delivered constantly across all points of consumer contact  and also helps the organisation to achieve its financial goals; thus it is able to support and give a boost to the organisation.

Simply put, brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the minds of your customers. Positioning strategies are a major source to shape consumer preferences toward a brand. It is essential to assess the consumer behavior and psyche – how they perceive the brand by recalling the company’s communications. The right positioning strategy at the right time is required to build the right brand reputation in the mind of consumer.
Popularised in Reis and Trout’s bestselling book – “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”, the idea is to identify and “own” a marketing niche for a brand, using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The goal is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace. They define positioning as “an organised system for finding a window in the mind” and it is based on the concept that “communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.”

A brand builds a reputation that convinces the customer

A brand builds a ‘reputation’ that convinces the customer into paying that premium for ‘extra quality’ or some other perceived ‘intangible’ feature. The advantage the brand has is that money spent on promoting their ‘name’ is really worth it, and has far-reaching consequences, for the brand name will be remembered long after the product is replaced or is declared ‘obsolete’!

The reputation of a business helps in enhancing its business value. The reputation of the company entirely depends upon the public and their opinion about the company. A favourable reputation builds trust for the brand. An unfavourable brand reputation, however, will cause consumers to distrust your company and they would hesitate to purchase the products/services offered. Any single mistake can damage your brand, diminishing the business value of the company.

Brand Reputation: why it matters a lot?

An organisation’s brand(s) and reputation is a foundation for its long-term success and value creation. Developing long-term brand value and consistency takes time and calls for the right expertise.

But, today, when social media provides everyone with a platform to communicate, reputations and brand equity can be damaged in a split-second!

Social media platforms have become critical and customers are increasingly using these platforms to post comments for or against the brand. To take control of the brand reputation, it is very important for organisations to satisfy demands and expectations of customers, and thus enhance the customer’s experience.

Brand Positioning and Corporate Reputation Building

When we then speak of brand positioning via the corporate reputation, it clearly points to the maker of the product. Here, the reference is not to the product brand but the corporate brand. It also follows that when we relate to the corporate brand and its reputation for quality, we are speaking about the company, as a quality product source.

What can branding and reputation building strategies do? They can –

  • Create positive initial awareness in new markets
  • Enhance positive company reputation
  • Improve corporate perception

A good and positive reputation is vital for business success. You may be entering a new market, re-positioning your company, or expanding your brand and company reach. Companies can develop a critical strategy that can preserve and advance their reputation.

So, we can conclude that the consumer’s reason for brand choice is both Positioning and Reputation.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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