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Developing Your Brand Strategy


PRIMARY BRANDING OPTION: Promote a “difference of kind.”

  1. Create a new category your brand can be the leader in.

  2. Promote the category, not your brand.

  3. Welcome other brands into your category in order to help it grow.

  4. Use a defensive strategy.


  • Defensive strategies should always be used by the market leader.

  • Attacking yourself is the best defensive strategy.

  • The leader should always block strong offensive moves made by competitors.

NOTE: If your brand is the category leader, the word you own is the category name (Red Bull = energy drink, Xerox = copiers, Kleenex= tissues, etc.). Your brand stands for the category, and if you're lucky, it becomes the generic for the category ("Make me a Xerox.")

SECONDARY BRANDING OPTION: Promote a “difference of degree.”

Position your brand within an existing category by determining where it ranks in consumers’ minds.

  • If your brand is #2 in the category, position it opposite the leader and use an offensive strategy.

  • The primary concern should be the leader’s strengths, not your brand’s own strengths and weaknesses.

  • The brand should seek a weakness in the leader’s strengths, not in the leader’s weaknesses.

  • Attack on as narrow a front as possible.

  • Example: Avis countered Hertz’s strength as category leader by proclaiming, “We’re number 2. So we try harder.”


If your brand is #3 in the category, use a flanking strategy.

  • A flanking move is best made in an uncontested area.

  • A flanking move should have an element of surprise.

  • Follow-through is as important as the attack itself to counter any retaliation from brands #1 and 2.

  • Example: Budget Rent-a-Car successfully flanked Hertz and Avis with a low-price strategy.


If your brand is #4 or lower in the category, use a guerrilla strategy.

  • Identify a segment that is small enough to defend.

  • Never act like a leader, even if successful in the attack.

  • Be ready to enter and exit on short notice.

  • Example: Inc. magazine targeted small business owners who were not well served by publications like Business Week.

A brand’s differentiating benefit may be:


  1. Being first

  2. Attribute ownership (on-core or off-core)

  3. Leadership

  4. Heritage

  5. Preference

  6. How a product is made

  7. Being the latest

Once you’ve determined your preferred brand strategy and differentiation benefit, fill in the following position statement:


Ideally, the point of difference should be distilled into a single word or phrase. It might be benefit-related (cavity prevention), service-related (home delivery), audience-related (young people), or sales-related (preferred brand).

The essence of your brand’s value proposition should be able to be articulated this simply:


BrandXcellence can guide you in developing your brand strategy in the way that makes the sense for you and your budget.

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