Brand- and Market-Oriented Positioning
The article chosen for analysis investigates the two most predominant ways of understanding brand positioning: identity-oriented and image-oriented constructs. The authors provide a detailed literature review to prove that the concept of market positioning cannot be unambiguously defined, as it is seen from different perspectives by different authors. However, the market-oriented approach prevails. The article identifies and explores five major ways to map positioning through the use of metaphors: chess, jigsaw puzzle, monopoly, wordplay, and rule-breaking (Urde and Koch 353).
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The authors propose a straightforward definition of market positioning: they understand it as “an activity to achieve a certain position,” while the position achieved is defined as “an outcome relative to something else” (Urde and Koch 357). The next stage of their article provides a comparison of the two synergetic approaches to the issue.
The first approach, the brand-oriented construct, relies on the identity significance of the brand, which implies that the choice of a positioning strategy is determined by the values, goals, and message of the company. Under this construct, the value of the brand is to be communicated to the potential customer; in other words, the perspective moves from the inside out (Urde and Koch 359).
On the other hand, the market-oriented approach is based upon the importance of the brand image. This outside perspective presupposes that the choice of market positioning depends on customers’ needs and expectations. The offer must be designed in the best way to meet the requirements of the target audience, creating customer-oriented value (Urde and Koch 360).
The authors note that these two approaches, however different, can be successfully reconciled. They propose five positioning metaphors, some of which represent a clear-cut image or identity-driven types and some of which mix the two (Urde and Koch 366):
- Chess: a mixed approach that combines strategizing with competitor orientation;
- Jigsaw puzzle: an image-driven construct that represents positioning as the process of filling gaps within the audience’s perception;
- Wordplay: a market-oriented metaphor that exploits words to create the desired effect through advertisement;
- Monopoly: an identity-based approach that implies achieving uniqueness, making the brand stand for the generic; and
- Rule-breaking: a mixed strategy that focuses on challenging the accepted perception of a product or a service.
The information given in the article partially overlaps with the materials covered in class. The similarities can be summarized as follows:
- Both the article and class materials explore the issue through in-depth literature reviews.
- Both agree that there is no universal approach to market positioning.
- Both investigate which points should be made clear for the company to position itself successfully.
- Both consider the presence of not only the consumer but also competitors as a market force influencing the choice of positioning strategy.
However, at certain points, these articles diverge in terminology, scope, and aspects emphasized. These differences can be summarized as follows:
- The article is larger in scope as it covers two opposing approaches to the issue of market positioning, whereas the class materials state that positioning should be seen exclusively through the eyes of the potential customer.
- The class materials go deeper into the theory of marketing (e.g., marketing mix, maps for competitive analysis, the positioning matrix with optimal and suboptimal matches).
- The article is more specific in identifying the existing approaches to market positioning, whereas the class materials are more generic, naming only basic principles and factors influencing the success of a positioning strategy.
- The class materials touch upon the importance of price and quality combination and dwell upon the options, while the article only confirms that these issues are constituents of the positioning process.
- The article provides five extended metaphors that demonstrate how image and identity can compete or combine within one strategy, while the class materials do not cover this aspect.
- The class materials provide detailed instructions on how to write a successful positioning statement by taking into consideration all points of significance; they provide prompting questions and examples. The article does not have such educational implications.
Urde, Mats and Christian Koch. “Brand and Market Oriented Positioning.” Impulse für die Markenpraxis und Markenforschung. Ed. Carsten Baumgarth and Dirk-Mario Boltz. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2013. 351-371. Print.