Brand Strategy

Using a comprehensive brand research process, NA Worldwide helps managers:

  • Develop a thorough understanding of their brand assets
  • Identify opportunities for building and leveraging equity
  • Pinpoint specific areas where brand-building investment will achieve significant returns

Effective brand development and management requires several key steps:

  • Profiling of brands along their key dimensions -- competence, character, and style – by mapping imagery and associations
  • Exploration of brand positioning (or repositioning) opportunities within the competitive landscape
  • Systematic implementation of brand equity measurement tools to calculate brand value, gauge resilience in existing markets, and assess leverage potential for extensions into new ones
  • Brand surveillance to monitor ongoing performance through a systematic brand health and performance tracking program

NA Worldwide has substantial experience in strategic brand research and consulting in a wide range of product categories in consumer, business-to-business, and pharmaceutical markets.

Brand Image and Health

When brand managers aim to understand "brand image" – how customers see and experience their brand – they need to take measure of its character, competence, and personality or style of customer engagement.

  • Character –  the values it stands for, the promises it makes
  • Competence – its distinctive capabilities and areas of special expertise
  • Personality – its style of customer communication (how it "talks and dresses")

Qualitative Exploration - The first step in understanding a brand typically involves exploratory qualitative research using various projective techniques like personification to depict a brand and its key competitors in ways that transcend ordinary language.  Qualitative research uncovers certain "truths" that complement quantitative insights.  It also leads us to a set of benchmark metrics which we can use to monitor brand essence and track its performance.

Quantitative Metrics - Using statistics to chart brand coordinates typically requires one or more quantitative surveys that enable clients to:

  • Determine the most salient points of differentiation between their brands and the competition
  • Identify valuable opportunity space – "unoccupied territory" where differentiation could potentially be created
  • Document and prioritize brand strengths for more effective leverage

Among the customized approaches we use to assess a brand's image and performance are Brand Association Measurement (often involving techniques, such as correspondence analysis to assess strength of associations) and Substitutability Analysis to more clearly map a brand's image within its competitive context.

Brand Association Measurement

In a brand association measurement, performance or "strength-of-association" ratings on relevant imagery and core competencies/qualities are used to identify tangible points of differentiation and provide clues to unmet customer needs. Easy-to-read, comprehensive brand competency profiles serve as roadmaps for highlighting areas where brands possess strong differentiation and assess deficiencies as well as pinpoint opportunities.

Substitutability Analysis

Substitutability analysis often dispels myths about a brand's "true" competition and the space it occupies relative to other brands in its category. Applying hierarchical cluster analysis from brand substitution responses identifies a brand's competitive set and serves as a guidepost for competitive brand strategy development.

Exploring Brand (Re)Positioning Opportunities

Successful brands possess unique qualities or associations that differentiate them from the competition. The more brands are able to achieve and own differentiation on dimensions that are important to potential purchasers, the more successful they become. Successful brand managers need to identify the brand characteristics that are most critical within their own marketplace and attempt to stake out a compelling position within that environment.

To chart the "brand landscape," a variety of techniques - both qualitative and quantitative - can be used for market mapping and insight generation. We advocate approaches that help to uncover the brand attributes that are most critical to purchase consideration and affinity/loyalty, while simultaneously gauging the degree to which existing brands in the marketplace possess these characteristics in order to identify gaps or "opportunity spaces."  For new brands, potential opportunities can be prioritized and brand positioning strategies formulated accordingly.  For existing brands, opportunities are evaluated in the context of current equities and positioning coordinates, and brand managers are obliged to weigh the costs and benefits of mirror brand adjustments versus major repositioning.

Brand Equity Measurement

The equity of a brand can be defined by the additional value it lends to a product or service (versus competing brands or generic/unbranded contenders) as measured by potential share capture or ability to command a price premium.  While the fundamental definition is clear, no single approach to brand equity measurement can lay claim to universal acceptance due in part to the breadth of considerations and operational metrics implicit in the concept of brand equity:

  • Ability to capture market share
  • Resilience against new competitors
  • Value in supporting line/category extensions
  • Ability to gain access to distribution channels

Some brand equity research approaches are better suited to brand valuations in the context of brand sale or acquisition.  Others are more suitable for measuring a brand's strength and ability to compete in its marketplace and still others tend to focus exclusively on understanding the characteristics and qualities that a brand possesses that are most integral to brand identity.  The choice of approach must be informed by the underlying business objectives.

Our approach to brand equity monitoring allows marketers to quantify and track the value of their brands in the marketplace, and identify marketing levers that can be used to boost brand value.  Our proprietary models rely on a variety of tools to identify the brand characteristics and competencies that are most critical to maintaining and building this equity, highlighting key strengths to maintain or fortify and opportunities for meaningful improvement.

Ultimately, the process provides marketers with a definitive, financially-grounded measure of the equity of their brand, a clear understanding of the associations and perceptions that drive this equity, and insights that focus brand-building efforts in directions that will yield greatest return.

Click here for a detailed paper outlining some of the key considerations related to brand equity research.

For more information on NA Worldwide, please e-mail us or call (215) 496-6800.