The purpose of a Brand Positioning matrix is to measure and visualize differences among competing brands across relevant dimensions. These frameworks are often used in brand strategy work and presented using a matrix with two axes. Often, axes are chosen to ‘lead the witness’ by dramatizing a particular whitespace for positioning a brand. To avoid this pitfall (or temptation), make sure that the comparative dimensions for your axes are: (1) Broad: must be able to apply across all brands, (2) Salient: must matter to how customers distinguish brands, (3) Contrasting: must be perceived as polar opposites, (4) Measurable: must be able to place on a single axis, (5) Objective: must not be inherently good or bad.
How is our brand positioned in the market today?
- Define the market that you are analyzing. This may be done traditionally, by organizing the matrix around existing competitors (e.g., basketball apparel) or abstractly, by framing the matrix on non-traditional competitors (e.g., youth brands).
- Based on how you have defined the market, identify the brands that meet your criteria and are relevant to how you will use the completed matrix. Only include brands that are relevant to your customers.
- Identify the most meaningful comparative dimensions to include as axes. Consider all dimensions that are meaningful to how your customers differentiate and choose brands.
- Measure each brand based on its relative position against each dimension. This should be informed by current customer research (not hunches) to be up-to-date and to avoid bias.
- Map each brand to its corresponding position on the matrix format you are using.
- Use formats like spider graphs to analyze and plot brands using more than two dimensions.
- Use the same matrix over time to measure changes in brand perception and competitor actions.
- Use different sized ‘bubbles’ or brand names to visualize additional data layers (e.g., market share) per brand
Reis, Al. Trout, Jack. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. McGraw-Hill, 2001.