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Positioning is indeed a powerful tool, especially when the competitive landscape is well demarcated, consumer targets are identifiable, and advantages reside largely in product performance or functionality.
But over reliance on positioning can lead strategists to overlook other means of differentiation and possibly even spell disaster for their brand.
Blockbuster had its chance and came closer than most people know to actually beating Netflix and the other new players at their own game.
But the traditional positioning driven brand strategy underlying TOTAL ACCESS only allowed Blockbuster back in the game.  While strategically sound, the program was insufficient to reinvent the brand and make consumers see it in a new way.
To differentiate, Blockbuster needed to connect with customers in a new, more meaningful way.
This kind of resonance would have required thinking beyond the functional or even the emotional advantages of being able to rent a movie both through the mail and a store. With over 35 million customers, there must have been some opportunity to elevate the experience, much as Target has elevated the mass merchandising experience, Starbucks has elevated the coffee experience, or Lexus has elevated the car shopping experience. For a big brand like Blockbuster, re-imagining ways of differentiating based on non-performance dimensions would probably require delivering against the needs of a narrower segment that values a brick and mortar experience or at least knowing that their online experienced is backed by a physical presence (If you doubt the existence of such a group, just check out the lines at Apple’s Genius bar). Would it have made a difference?  Maybe not, but the possibilities are intriguing nonetheless.
While positioning is one way to establish a difference, another way is to map what, in an ideal world, customers would think and feel about the brand across multiple dimensions, including performance. A brand strategy simply is a plan for how a company will support its business strategy by building relationships with consumers.
As the above diagram illustrates, competitive advantage can be sourced from elements of customer service, design, or personality, as well as performance based on quality or value. These methods of differentiation do not negate the value of positioning but suggest it is only one part of a complete brand strategy.
BRAND ARCHITECTURE:Source brand strategy, Endorsing brand strategy, What strategy to choose?
Recently Tesla announced that it was removing its patents and that it would be pursuing an innovation program based on open source.
If you’re a car maker and you view your competition not as other car companies but rather as the reluctance of all car companies to pursue the goal you are most committed to, that represents a fundamental shift in the nature of what you compete for. Most brands compete for what they know against who they know for a prize they think they all understand – which means all the focus is on achieving a greater level of profile and presence within a sector that is both constrained and crowded.
But as Chris pointed out, Tesla’s decision is less about how the carmaker uses what it knows and owns exclusively to compete against traditional makers, and much more about encouraging new possibilities that lead to increased participation overall.
When you stop thinking of competition as a take-what-we-can struggle, and start thinking about your competitors as colleagues grappling with the same issues as you, it strikes me that there are real opportunities to agree common goals that benefit all. We used to think that when one brand knew something that another didn’t, they held a competitive advantage.
If you find our thought pieces on brand strategy and brand management insightful and would like a deeper understanding for yourself, your marketing teams or leadership teams we can develop a tailored learning solution for you.
Brand Education is a core competency of The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider.
Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands. Subscribe to Branding Strategy Insider Now and get regular updates and two FREE Chapters of Brad VanAuken's best selling book Brand Aid direct to your inbox. 5 Reasons Brand Strategy and Social Media Should Work Together You are using an outdated browser. To learn more about the benefits of a well-defined brand, check out Why Branding Matters in 2014.2.
Most leaders think of brand architecture only during times of change, like mergers, acquisitions, rebrands and product launches. But documenting and guiding your brand architecture strategy outside of changing times is also important.

All brand architecture strategies fall into one of three approaches, a branded house, a house of brands or a house blend. Brand architecture is the structure that clarifies roles and relationships within a portfolio of brands.
For example, a house of brands approach may make sense if your main growth strategy is to increase market share.
Aligning your business strategies with the correct brand architecture approach is crucial to the success of your organization. At Ervin & Smith, we have a knack for invigorating brands and helping breathe new life into their unique stories. As an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Ervin & Smith, Ashley is Inbound and HubSpot certified.
Maintaining differentiation then is more than a matter of updating positioning.  It requires layered and nuanced approaches rooted in the customer experience, shared community, and brand purpose. The modern brand strategy toolbox recognizes that there are many ways to create and sustain strategic brand advantage, only some of which are Product or Usage focused.  Others are more user or relationship focused. It can come from a deep recognition and participation in a subculture or a sense of shared purpose or community. But perhaps there’s another way of looking at this: one that is increasingly being pursued by brands with a strong purpose agenda. The competitive dynamic is less about a race to a singular point of advantage and much more about the pace at which you and those around you make fundamental changes in the suppositions that govern, and limit, adaptation in your industry. They compete as the brand they are known for today, for the prize that they want to be known for today and against measures that focus on what they are doing today. Tesla, in other words, appears to be making an organic market growth play – transforming what it can achieve by changing the technologies that it gets to play with and therefore where it might get to play with them. Imagine for example if the large fast food companies could lower their walls far enough to share their collective IP to address societal concerns around obesity.
Musk’s initiative raises a question that is all too frequently lost: what wider change do we all want to see happen? As practitioners and educators we deliver interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align individuals and organizations on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of their brands. Army and Wyndham Worldwide are some of the organizations that have turned to The Blake Project for help in meeting learning objectives. We focus on sharing thought provoking expertise that promotes an elevated conversation on brand strategy and brand management and fosters community among marketers.
You Will Achieve More Effective Content DistributionWhile creating custom content is a highly effective way to help your organization increase lead generation and customer conversions, your blogs, whitepapers, and other forms of web content simply can’t exist in a vacuum. And, at those times, understanding the relationships between the brand names in your company’s portfolio is essential.
If you’re looking to learn more about brand architecture or need help optimizing your current brand strategy, contact us today to schedule a time to chat.
She has experience in developing content, building websites and implementing digital marketing strategies for a variety of industries.
If your brand must be bigger than what you make, perhaps the basis on which you compete must be greater than what you can distinctly own.
Because the very mechanisms intended to protect the company’s investments were going to prevent it from reaching its ultimate goal. In a way, he observed, Uber is open source entrepreneurship, as are many of those working in the collaborative economy, because the brand is giving up ground it would once have sought to control in order to rewrite the rules. If the global carmakers had worked together to agree how to lower emission levels, could the sector have prevented the VW scandal that now has car owners all over the world asking themselves questions about the wider industry?
BSI is a service of The Blake Project, a leading brand consultancy based in the United States, serving marketers around the world. A branded house approach may be more appropriate if you are in a mature market and your business goals are geared toward maximizing marketing efforts and brand equity.

Instead, it should be a tool you consistently reference for all business and brand decisions.
From Elon Musk’s post: “Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.
I am suggesting that there are issues where consumers want to see change that, if they were answered together through co-operation, would enable a whole industry to compete on a new basis. The science of content distribution has become a crucial component of being noticed in an era of content saturation. A branded house strategy has one unique brand name that motivates purchases and offers value. Though a house blend strategy is quite difficult to execute, it can be useful if you’re trying to grow market share yet want to leverage the credibility of the parent brand. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal…[When Tesla started] we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. Or perhaps, for some incumbents, that thought is even more scary than keeping themselves to themselves…? By aligning your social media with your content creation strategy, you’ll achieve more effective promotion and distribution of your brand’s content assets, allowing your organization to maximize exposure and ROI on major social networks.image source3.
Many organizations use a hybrid or variation of one of the two approaches, called a house blend. You’ll Build Stronger RelationshipsWhile the internet has drastically changed human behavior, the fact remains that trust is an enormously important factor in motivating human behavior.
Studies have found that the average consumer doesn’t care if 70% of brands disappear tomorrow.
The remaining 30% includes organizations who’ve managed to transcend transactional relationships and build greater trust with their prospects and customers.
Your social media outreach should include the same messaging and strategy as your brand position, so your customers know what to expect and are able to begin trusting you.Additionally, a social media strategy that’s integrated with your larger marketing goals will allow your social media managers to more effectively target their posts to your buyer personas.
By tailoring your messages to you ideal customer, you’ll improve your chances of capturing the business of your most profitable prospect segments.4.
You’ll Avoid Brand ConfusionBrand confusion is a real and dangerous threat to modern organizations. Research by the Harvard Business Review has found that differentiation has become more challenging today due to a proliferation of new brands, and even worse, that most modern marketers are doing nothing to solve the problem.
The key to eliminating this threat is to avoid thinking in a promotional or limited-time mindset, and focus on longer-term goals. If your social media posts are consistent with your brand’s personality or tone, you’ll likely achieve much better differentiation than your competitors who don’t have the same long-term outlook.image source5. You Can Achieve “Triangulation”Marketing thought leader Aaron Perlut believes that earned media outreach is effectively useless if you’re not moving toward “triangulation;” which is defined as the integration of social media, search marketing, and PR. 74% of marketers consider their presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other major networks an integral part of generating new leads.
Your social media posts shouldn’t just be viewed as updates to your Facebook or Twitter audience, because they’re so much more. Simply put, the potential of social media is far too great to not use to its fullest potential. Social media has the potential to be the cornerstone of your brand’s web presence, which is why it’s important to ensure that each piece of outreach is effectively targeted, and consistent with your brand strategy as a whole.Is your social media integrated with your brand strategy? You’ll Remove InefficienciesIf your social media isn’t actively working to elevate your organization towards its larger goals and KPIs, the effort could be wasted.

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