Humans are emotional beings rather than rational ones. Often, our emotional state plays a big role in how we perceive things. How do we feel about brands? What do they give us off?

The world we knew is changing before our eyes, affecting the way we perceive it and how we derive meaning from it. The social and cultural changes we are experiencing are redefining the way we see our own place in society, our sense of identity, and everything that affects our lives, including brands and businesses.

A QUESTION OF MEANINGS

Since the beginning of time, we have been surrounded by codes and meanings that help us understand life. People value meanings. We don’t consume brands for their logos or products, we consume them for what they mean to us – for what they represent in terms of our own desires, values and feelings. The more meaning you create as a brand, the more value you have and the more meaning you can exchange with your customers.

The more meaning you can exchange with your customers, the stronger the mental, emotional, and cultural bonds you can create between your brand and the company and, in a broader context, also with the culture and society in which your customers live.

Embedding your brand in a vital context of culture and society, through symbolic territories and the perceptions that your brand generates in people’s minds, is the best way to create a strategic position that truly resonates with people based on their shared values and beliefs.

To conquer that territory you have to have a good map and for this it is essential to explore. In geographical terms, first there was the territory and then the map was drawn. In branding it is the other way around, first we need the map that leads us to understand a concrete reality, based on customer insights and needs. From that point on, we will be able to identify the territory on which to build meaning, and which is a fundamental pillar for the brand strategy.

THE MAP OF THE TERRITORY

The map represents the understanding of the coordinates on which to identify a need that can become an opportunity for your brand. It is based on an attitude of investigation that leads to the conclusion of a reality that affects customers, especially their emotional state. It can be a bit complex, but like any exploration, it requires being very attentive to the signs.

The emotional states that people experience can be very diverse, but there are 6 main needs that can help you identify them: “Surprise me”, “Help me”, “Reassure me”, “Educate me”, “Impress me” and “Excite me”.

To make sense, they must be used in a way that really provides value: contextualized in a given framework, intertwined with knowledge of the specific target and their behavior, and then used to determine what the direction should be across the territory.

4 Steps to Mapping Your Brand

  1. Analyze the environment

This is what leads you to want to explore, or not. The conditions of your brand, the product, the competition, the market, society… List the opportunities and problems that may arise and evaluate them.

  1. Prioritize your audience

This means understanding all the targets very well, knowing their preferences, ambitions and hobbies, as well as the credibility and reputation with which your brand is perceived. A socio-demographic segmentation has always been carried out, today it is convenient to think about more transversal needs.

  1. Watch for Signs

Spot trends based on your brand’s interests and evaluate how they would fit into your reality. Going against the strongest trends may be a foretold failure, but who says your brand can’t create its own trend?

  1. Filter the information

The filters can be many and varied, as well as brands, trends, targets and strategies that may exist. Your filters should be demanding and objective, you should accept that even good filters ruin a tempting idea.

BRAND TERRITORY

Brand territory is the tangible and intangible space occupied by a brand, defined by its very nature (company/business) and by its rational and emotional aspirations to its stakeholders. In other words, the brand territory is the competitive space where the brand builds its own meaning that people can value. It is the basis for the construction of the brand strategy as it will allow you to focus on values and benefits, a personality and a way of behaving.

Based on the premise that brands are the set of perceptions that others have about them, brand territories are a fundamental piece to try to align the image that they project. If the value of the brand lies in its ability to gain an exclusive and positive space in people’s minds, once a differential positioning has been defined, it will be necessary to reinforce the strategy by identifying and prioritizing one or more specific areas of competence. These are conceptual spaces from which to build a certain image that reinforces everything that the brand represents. The positioning will have facilitated the precision of a specific space, the territory will help in the expansion of the positioning towards the creation of specific meanings that add value to customers.

Territories can be explored in different ways, either with an overview or by probing the different angles within the same territory. This will determine what perceptions the brand is going to be linked to. For example, exclusivity or luxury may be a territory, but it is too general to be differential, while sporty luxury could achieve greater differentiation. Let’s see how Rolex has based itself on it to define its brand strategy that has led it to sponsor “luxury” sporting events, such as Wimbledon or the Ryder Cup in golf.

4 levers on which to activate brand territories

  1. Knowledge

For brands that can be considered as experts or authorities in their segments. They pay special attention to innovation and maintain very distinctive styles.

Related territories: Experience, leadership, intelligence, dissemination, innovation…

  1. Solution

Oriented towards the other end of the scale with respect to knowledge. He becomes an ally of the customers, someone who is on their side with empathy.

Linked territories: Ease, speed, price, service, being an ally, being a prize…

  1. Authenticity

With the capacity to elevate the previous two, enhancing the emotional benefits to a greater extent.

Linked territories: Honesty, transparency, trust, responsibility, originality…

  1. Lifestyle

Originating from the way in which relationships with third parties are established. It combines tangible and intangible factors.

Linked territories: Exclusivity, popularity, connection, trendy, inspirational, traditional, living on the edge…

This classification is just a starting point that simplifies a complex reality. Perhaps not all brands fit directly into this scheme, but in any case it will be crucial that they find the most appropriate way to expand their positioning in a way that brings value and meaning to their audiences.

EXAMPLES OF TERRITORIES

  • Innovation territory. Brands that are positioned in innovation and disruption: INTEL, APPLE
  • Smart Choice Territory. Brands that offer the best value for money: SKODA, MEDIA MARKT
  • Territory tradition. Brands that highlight traditional values: WERTHER’S, CONSERVAS ORTIZ
  • Home/family territory. Brands that make our daily lives easier: FAGOR, CASA TARRADELLAS
  • Territory, security. Brands with a primary focus on safety: VOLVO, SECURITAS
  • Territory: personal success. Brands that reflect prestige and success: MERCEDES BENZ, CARTIER
  • Adrenaline territory. Brands to live with on the edge: RED BULL, GO PRO

From the heart of the territories, the terrain is laid to create the brand experiences. There is no doubt that the relationship between what the brand is (its essence) and what it represents (image) comes to life through a set of subjective experiences framed in a global context. In times of change, such as the current one, new circumstances arise that make it necessary to review the way in which the brand delivers its promise. Compared to a previous static model, today it is more necessary than ever to approach brand strategies from a dynamic and lively perspective capable of adapting to changes as quickly as possible.

The market is full of examples of brands that were lost due to their inability to align with society’s present and future interests. Many of the categories have seen their interest in them lost because they have not been able to adapt to customer demands, changes in behavior and new consumer segments. A timely review of the brand territories could have given them a second chance without the need to completely transform their essence. As a magnificent example, let’s take the case of OREO cookies, which have successfully gone beyond the territory of mere pleasure and have reached the territory of imagination.

A MATTER OF FOCUS

Each of the territories will determine a positioning and personality for the brand. The territory will have facilitated the creation of a context in which the brand develops. Positioning will pinpoint the exact place you want to occupy in people’s minds. Next, the brand personality will be able to humanize it, providing depth and nuances, and making it relatable with its target audience.

There is no single valid territory to build a brand. It can always be approached from different angles, with their respective nuances. It will be convenient to evaluate the alternatives considering aspects such as:

  • To what extent does it help to achieve the objectives pursued?
  • What is its short- and medium-term trajectory?
  • To what extent does it provide differentiation?
  • Does it make it easy to create brand experiences?

A current vision of brand territories must be based on a high level of strategic thinking, it must be able to ask the right questions and leverage the information obtained to capture what is really hidden behind the answers. In this whole process, emotions play a starring role. They are responsible for the judgments that people make, also about what a brand is and is not and to what extent it aligns with their interests. It’s time to explore, to put your imagination into action.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO Branward