L. Michael Hankes  |  ATTORNEY AT LAW
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Brand Positioning

Much has been writ­ten about the con­cept of brand posi­tion­ing in the mod­ern mar­ket­place. This arti­cle is a gen­eral dis­cus­sion of some notions of the con­cept of “Brand Posi­tion­ing” and is not intended to be an author­i­ta­tive dis­cus­sion of the subject.

Brands are famil­iar to all of us. In the mind of a con­sumer, a brand is often asso­ci­ated with the way a prod­uct tastes, its qual­ity, its price or even the pack­ag­ing. The owner of the brand strives to cre­ate a favor­able asso­ci­a­tion in the mind of the pub­lic with the brand. Brand loy­alty is one rea­son peo­ple will choose one prod­uct over another, even if the branded prod­uct costs more than the generic brand. Each of us can think of famous brands that we read­ily iden­tify with for all kinds of pur­chases rang­ing from food prod­ucts to automobiles.

As sug­gested above, some fac­tors that can be impor­tant in build­ing a brand can include con­cepts such as qual­ity, price and ser­vice. “Brand posi­tion­ing” is a con­cept that encom­passes the posi­tion of a brand or prod­uct in rela­tion to oth­ers in the mar­ket­place. Many com­pa­nies, includ­ing Hardee’s, have taken an active approach toward “brand posi­tion­ing” to envig­o­rate a tired brand or change iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the brand in the minds of the pub­lic. In an ideal world, this “re-positioning” strat­egy might involve assess­ing the brand’s cur­rent posi­tion, deter­min­ing the posi­tion the brand wants to have and then devel­op­ing a strat­egy for cre­at­ing a new brand position.

Achiev­ing a brand posi­tion or chang­ing an exist­ing one is a com­plex under­tak­ing that requires a bal­anc­ing of com­pet­ing fac­tors and the delib­er­ate pre­sen­ta­tion of a con­sis­tent mes­sage to con­sumers about the prod­uct and its place in the mar­ket­place, through adver­tis­ing, brand name, pack­ag­ing, and other imag­ing con­cepts, includ­ing the prod­uct itself. Econ­o­mists who deal with price elas­tic­ity issues will tell you that in any busi­ness which wants to deliver a con­sis­tently good prod­uct, it is very dif­fi­cult to bal­ance qual­ity, ser­vice and price. In other words, in assess­ing these three basic com­po­nents of a brand’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or posi­tion, it is very dif­fi­cult to achieve high qual­ity, a high level of ser­vice and a low price. This may have to do with sim­ple eco­nom­ics. How­ever, in deal­ing with the issue of brand posi­tion­ing, any change in the qual­ity, ser­vice and price tri­umvi­rate can also affect the public’s per­cep­tion of the brand and as a result, its posi­tion. For instance, low­er­ing qual­ity can cre­ate an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with an “econ­omy” brand. Low­er­ing ser­vice or price might cre­ate a per­cep­tion that a par­tic­u­lar brand is a “bar­gain” brand. Cre­at­ing “cow­boy” brands or “pre­mium” brands can be other con­se­quences of shift­ing the bal­ance of qual­ity, ser­vice and price in rela­tion to each other as well as the deliv­ery of a con­sis­tent mes­sage through adver­tis­ing, pack­ag­ing and other aspects of brand imagining.

Many of you will rec­og­nize ele­ments of this dis­cus­sion because Hardee’s has been actively try­ing to shift the posi­tion of the Hardee’s brand and cre­ate a new pub­lic aware­ness of the brand and its prod­ucts over the course of the past sev­eral years. Obvi­ously the “Rev­o­lu­tion” and the “Thick­burger” have been a major part of the process, which remains a chal­lenge in the Hardee’s fran­chise sys­tem which was founded, in part, on expan­sion of indi­vid­ual stores into remote areas. This restau­rant plan resulted in a some­what unique geo­graphic diver­sity within the Hardee’s fran­chise sys­tem. As Hardee’s com­mits itself to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the pub­lic through its adver­tis­ing of a con­sis­tent brand image it will be inter­est­ing to note the posi­tion that the Hardee’s brand ulti­mately achieves. Those of you who wish to read more on the sub­ject can con­duct an inter­net search of the two words “brand posi­tion­ing” and find a wealth of infor­ma­tion on the subject.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice, as individual facts and circumstances may vary.