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November 16, 2018

Three Questions You Need to Ask About Your Brand | Part Three

Have We Established a Frame?

Brand positioning starts with establishing a frame of reference, which signals to consumers the goal they can expect to achieve by using a brand. Choosing the proper frame is important because it dictates the types of associations that will function as points of parity and points of difference. In some cases, the frame of reference is other brands in the same category. Coca-Cola is a soft drink. It competes with Pepsi-Cola and RC. But in certain instances, the frame of reference might be brands in quite disparate categories. Coke, Gatorade, and Snapple belong to the soft drink, sport drink, and iced tea categories, but they potentially share the frame of reference that consists of all thirst-quenching drinks.

One variable that may influence the choice of frame of reference is the product’s stage in the life cycle. When a new product is launched, competing products are often enlisted to serve as the frame of reference so that consumers can quickly discern what the product is and what goal it serves. In later stages of the product life cycle, growth opportunities (and threats) may emerge outside the product category. Accordingly, shifting the frame of reference may be necessary. The case of FedEx illustrates this evolution.