Brand Positioning Standards and Practices - Part 4: Repositioning Basics

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Posted Dec 01, 2011
Susan Gunelius

In Parts 1-3 of the Brand Positioning Standards and Practices series, you learned what brand positioning is, how to conduct brand positioning research, and how to develop a brand positioning strategy. However, there may come a time in your brand's lifecycle that its existing brand positioning no longer gets the job done. That's when it's time to reposition your brand.
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brand positioning

Repositioning happens when you change the image of a brand to hold a new place in consumers' minds relative to its competitors in the marketplace where it exists.

For example, Hyundai repositioned its brand to make its low price image mean more than "cheap price = cheap car." With the introduction of creative marketing, Hyundai launched 10-year, 100,000 mile warranties, and a 1-year buy-back program for consumers who fell victim to the recessionary environment. Suddenly, low price didn't mean "cheap." Instead, it meant "more value for your money."

Why Brands Are Repositioned

There are a variety of reasons why a brand might be repositioned. The most common reason is as a reaction to change. That change could be:

  • Environmentally driven: such as economic fluctuation, political changes, or the green movement
  • Consumer driven: such as changing tastes or preferences
  • Competitor driven: such as a new brand launch from a competitor that makes your position obsolete or inferior
  • Internally driven: such as a change in corporate strategic direction or acquisition of new technology, science, or other asset that gives your brand a competitive advantage and valuable differentiator

Sometimes brand repositionings are done proactively. For example, a company might realize that the original brand position wasn't well-researched or developed and a repositioning is necessary. However, repositioning a brand can be an expensive investment, so it must make strategic sense to pursue a repositioning initiative.

For example, not only do you have to educate consumers about the new position, but for existing consumers in the marketplace, you need to 'un-teach' them everything they already know about your brand. In other words, you have to convince them to forget the old brand position and believe and accept the new brand position. Consumers dislike change, so this is not an easy task.

How to Reposition a Brand

hyundai sonata

In order to effectively reposition a brand, you need to follow all the steps and processes that were discussed in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the Brand Positioning Standards and Practices series. You need to conduct brand research, analyze your competitors, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the market in order to create brand goals and a brand positioning strategy that has a chance for success.

There are a few keys to brand repositioning success that you need to keep in mind. First, as with initial brand positioning, repositioning is most effective when it appeals directly to emotions and needs that are meaningful to the target consumer audience while differentiating the brand from the competition at the same time.

Second, keep the phrase, "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line," in mind. It applies in brand repositioning, too. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to have the most creative and innovative brand position. Typically, the most compelling brand image and message is the most obvious and simple one because that's usually what consumers care about the most.

If you missed previous parts of the Brand Positioning Standards and Practices series, you can read them now by following the links below:

Images: stock.xchng, Flickr

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