In Branding, StrategyJanuary 18, 20242 Minutes

Determine your brand’s optimal frame of reference

Brand positioning starts with establishing a frame of reference, which signals to consumers the goal they can expect to achieve by using a brand. Choosing the proper frame is important because it dictates the types of associations that will function as points of parity and points of difference.

In some cases, the frame of reference is other brands in the same category. Coca-Cola is a soft drink. But in certain instances, the frame of reference might be brands in quite disparate categories.

It’s a dilemma for most entrepreneurs and marketers to decide how different their offering should be from that of the competitors. Greater the difference, the higher the cost of promotion.

Here are some questions to help you determine your brand’s optimal frame of reference;

  1. Within which product/service category does our brand operate?
  2. Within which product and service categories do our customers permit us to operate today?
  3. Does our brand stand for something broader than its products and services?
  4. What compromises do we make with our customers that we take for granted but that might cause our customers to pursue alternative solutions to meet their needs?
  5. What could another company give our customers that would cause them to become disloyal to our brand?
  6. Could another brand in our category credibly insert its name into our brand’s promise/positioning statement?
  7. What are the most likely substitute products for our product?
  8. What could neutralize our point of difference?
  9. What could make our point of difference obsolete?
  10. What could kill our category?

Reference: Brad Vanauken (2015). Brand Aid: A Quick Reference Guide to Solving Your Branding Problems and Strengthening Your Market Position, second edition, American Market Association: New York