The market is changing! Do you need to reposition your brand?
As current events confirm, branding is an ongoing process. The Total Group, now TotalEnergies, is renewing its identity and positioning.
With a new name, a new logo, a new image and new communication methods, the company is making a major strategic shift towards renewable energies, which is decisive for the brand, its image and the values conveyed to all its stakeholders.
This change is crucial for the survival of the group, which has been predominantly oil-based since its creation and which is paying not only for the fallout from the 2020 crises, but above all for the price of a global ecological awakening.
The brand strategy must be accompanied by marketing initiatives aimed at strengthening the company’s positioning with its consumers.
For product positioning, the STP (Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning) technique is very effective. For brand positioning, it is important to take a step back from segmentation and contextualise the environment.
Every day, consumers express new needs, sometimes in relation to the product or service sold, sometimes in relation to deeper issues that require the brand to take part in societal debates and to be in tune with the strong values of its environment.
For the renewal to be credible, for the perception to be correct, the company must adapt.
How to make your brand evolve while remaining in phase with its environment?
The aim of this article is to give companies strategic guidelines for thinking about repositioning their brand beforehand:
- In what context should a brand be repositioned?
- How is the brand perceived by consumers?
- Is the sector of activity changing?
- Daring to adopt a differentiating strategy !
IN WHAT CONTEXT TO REBRAND
The positioning of a brand in a market can be defined as the place that brand occupies in the minds of consumers and how it stands out from its competitors.
Situate the company in its environment
The concept covers several marketing and communication aspects: image, identity, product characteristics, price, etc. and requires continuous monitoring to ensure the coherence of the company or corporate strategy.
In concrete terms, what makes me different? With whom/what am I associated? But above all: am I still relevant to consumers in my market?
Repositioning a brand is a delicate event. While the company must be able to set a course, convey strong values and adopt a long-term vision, the environment in which the company operates is constantly changing.
The contexts are multiple
New needs, new societal, environmental, economic and political issues are emerging. These changes leave their mark on the consumer’s mind, who questions and challenges the values that brands offer.
In what context should a brand be repositioned? When the environment is changing and transforming customer perception? When the company and its messages are no longer desirable?
Some examples of contexts that can lead to repositioning:
- The brand wishes to attract a new audience or win back its audience: example of Walmart in 2007 which revitalised its brand with a new slogan: “Save Money, Live Better”.
- A change of leader to breathe new life into the brand: after his return as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs revamped the company’s image with a new logo
- An outdated logo, aging the company’s image: many companies modernise their brand image over time: Shell, Apple, Pepsi…
- Preventing a crisis or rebounding from a crisis that has seriously impacted the reputation: example of Uncle Ben’s becoming Ben’s Original after strong criticism of the racial stereotypes suggested by the old positioning
- A merger and acquisition: T-Mobile and Orange merged in the UK and launched a new channel called “Everything Everywhere”.
- No differentiation from the competition: PayPal took legal action against Pandora because their logos were too similar.
HOW IS THE BRAND PERCEIVED BY THE CONSUMER?
To detect the slightest dissonance between the company’s vision, its image, the values it conveys and the way the customer integrates them, it is essential to listen.
Integrating social listening to understand customer perception
Indeed, social listening is an excellent method to identify customers’ expectations, needs, but above all their perception, feelings and emotions. Online interactions are clues that allow companies to identify a possible shift in the minds of consumers.
While listening is an opportunity to detect trends, brands still find it difficult to turn data into knowledge and knowledge into added value.
The consumer is influenced
Consumers are not content to simply give their feelings, they are also readers. They are overwhelmed by the volume of information, but know how to retain what directly affects them. They read the comments of other consumers, but are also and above all affected by the content produced by influential stakeholders.
Hence the importance of taking into account all the content that mentions the brand to understand what it is associated with.
Social listening is therefore essential, but from the point of view of consumer perception analysis, it is only the bottom-up part.
The press, competitors, activists, influencers who mention the company outside of social networks participate in the production of online content and shape opinion and expectations.
The company must ask itself two fundamental questions:
- Which entities influence consumers in my market today?
- And which ones might influence their perception in the future?
Not all content is equal
The challenge is therefore to sort out the existing flow of information in order to highlight that which, mentioning the brand, will really undermine its positioning.
Sensitive or beneficial, viral or static content can be easily detected via automated monitoring. Numerous tools allow for the almost instantaneous alerting of a potentially dangerous message for the brand.
Nevertheless, this automation of the monitoring process by dashboard, requiring a substantial budget for the company, can stiffen the steering of the brand strategy in the long term. Indeed, fixed data provides insight, but forgets to provide context.
It is difficult to project, to cross-reference, to contextualise, especially in times of crisis when human expertise goes far beyond the simple display of insight.
The need for agility in sorting out content is therefore essential to make the most of market data. An insight should never be static.
Each market has a context, which data alone cannot capture without the contribution of expertise.
IS MY MARKET CHANGING?
The market in which the company and its competitors operate is constantly changing: new stakeholders, strong digitalization, new laws, national and international news, crises, economic stability…
All these structural factors define the threats and opportunities of the sector, which can then create an environment favourable to the company’s performance or penalise it.
In the context of its positioning, the brand must identify these developments and know how to take advantage of strategic changes.
It is also necessary to detect upstream the weak signals that indicate the new course to follow: repositioning or not repositioning?
Economic intelligence, business intelligence, strategic intelligence…
Faced with an increasing flow of internal and external information, the company must give priority to intelligence.
Often little taken into account by small and medium-sized companies, or even neglected for lack of means or skills, strategic intelligence is nevertheless crucial to survival in a competitive environment.
Innovation, the product life cycle, expansion or protection in particular are entry points for understanding the environment, which in turn leads to the management of change.
Strategic intelligence is part of what is known as “economic intelligence”, i.e. finding, securing and exploiting strategic information, external to the company, to anticipate and avoid threats. In the era of Big Data, business intelligence is evolving its 3 pillars: monitoring and analysis, security, influence.
Business intelligence (BI) also relies on data collection, processing, analysis and dissemination to make decisions. However, unlike business intelligence, BI uses information internal to the company to optimise its activities and costs. The data is generally taken from structured data warehouses.
Supporting the evolution of the sector
In order to best accompany the evolution of the business sector or to try to be at the origin of its evolution, data must be included in a project logic.
In concrete terms: what are the company’s information needs?
For Michael Porter, economic intelligence, which can also be called Market Intelligence, is “giving the right information at the right time to make the right decision”.
Like any project, you have to set an objective, reach it, know how to measure it and give it a beginning and an end.
Some examples of projects:
- Competitor profiling
- Detection of weak signals
- Technology assessment
- Product opportunities and risks
- Scanning the environment
- Evaluation of its market positioning
Weak signals: trend forecasters
Among the mass of information to be processed, the weak signal is the element that is difficult to perceive, announcing a trend that is taking shape.
The challenge for companies is to deploy the technical and human resources to intercept the signal and contextualise it. Without a strategic harvesting, cleaning and advanced statistical processing process, it is difficult to identify opportunities.
BECOMING A FORERUNNER IN ITS MARKET: A DIFFERENTIATING STRATEGY
Many contexts can lead to a repositioning.
The greatest risk for the company is to position itself outside the expectations and needs of consumers and thus enter into dissonance with the values with which they identify.
While customer perception is crucial, we must not lose sight of the evolution of the market, whose stakeholders, their technology and their discourse are constantly changing.
Brand perception thus extends beyond the consumer: each stakeholder perceives the brand in a certain way in its environment. The biggest risk is losing consistency.
The First Link agency therefore uses its proprietary technology to survey its clients’ environment: strategic intelligence, social listening, detection of weak signals, segmentation and targeting, etc.
The aim is not to provide a tool but to offer advice and support at all stages of the marketing strategy using data:
monitoring > insights > knowledge > context > decision-making
Becoming a forerunner in your market cannot be improvised, you have to contextualise !