Building an Informed Brand
Informed: having or showing knowledge of a particular subject or situation
A typical selling process begins with a dialog between customer and brand. There is an exchange of information. If the customer’s functional, emotional and rational needs are met through this exchange, then there can be a “handshake” and a sale.
Success depends on the implicit and explicit information being communicated by the brand to be in sync with the customer’s needs. This is what Lexicon refers to as informed branding.
Building a well–informed brand is the challenge if the brand is to win in the marketplace. For the purpose of this discussion, we will assume that the physical product is at par or better than its competition and focus only on what it communicates.
Ideally, brand communication will help carve out a unique niche in an established marketplace, or establish a new space in a new market. Informed branding helps assure that the dialog between targeted customer and brand is a meaningful and positive one.
Informed branding starts with positioning, i.e. how does the brand differentiate itself from its competitors. Where does it ‘fit’ in the customer’s understanding of buying choices? There are surprisingly few fundamental positioning choices. At Lexicon, we have identified only six. A simple audit of the category can help identify which positioning spaces are already occupied by competitors, and which are available and appropriate to the new brand. The decision can also be made to inhabit an already occupied positioning space, if it is believed that the company can do a better job of executing in that space, or that the product being introduced is simply much better than the competitor.
Through consumer research Lexicon has identified the functional and emotional associations consistent with each positioning. We use these associations to inform brand name development by specifying which creative directions are most likely to produce suitable name candidates. Then, on the back end of a project, a winning name candidate or candidates emerge when their associations, determined through research, are the most consistent with the associations known to fit with the desired positioning.
When this is achieved, positioning and brand name are working as one and should be in sync with the functional and emotional expectations of the targeted consumer. These should be supported by packaging, graphics, advertising and promotion all fine tuned to the same associations map.
—Bob Cohen, Senior Consultant