Why and How to Reposition a Brand?

What is Repositioning? 

In simple terms, repositioning is changing the positioning or the perception of the brand (or the firm or the product) in the minds of the consumer.

It is important to remember that repositioning is not just a marketing tactic, as the repositioning must be transferred to the memory and understanding of consumers, particularly those customers in the target market.

There’s no point undertaking repositioning from an internal company perspective only. And yes, while we will have internal plans for how we want our brand (or product) to be repositioned – that change has to be executed in the marketplace!!!

Why and How to Reposition a Brand? Please review the video or scroll down for the full article.

Why Reposition a Brand?

Why would we want to reposition an established brand? Especially if we have worked hard at building it, and now it’s profitable and doing well for us.

Let’s face it, repositioning is a major and costly change to undertake – so why should we do it and how can it be successfully implemented?

It’s such a major change because we’ve got to change how consumers think about and understand our brand. It’s not just a matter of going, “Hey, we’ve got a new position”.

Therefore, as marketers, it is critical that we have compelling reasons whenever we want to reposition a brand.

Here are the key reasons why we would look to reposition an established brand:

  • Growth Objectives
  • Current Poor Positioning
  • Competitor Actions Have Changed Our Positioning
  • Changing Customer Needs
  • Brand Image Damage
  • Declining Product Life Cycle Stage
  • Entering New Segments

Let’s explore each of these repositioning drivers below…

Growth Objectives

Often repositioning is driven by growth targets. As marketers, we’re usually expected to deliver more.

And even though we had a great year last year and we increased sales by 20% – often we (or more likely the company) wants more growth and continued success.

Growth goals exists in virtually every company that you all work for, so possibly the brand has reached its potential as is, and we need to modify its current positioning.

Current Poor Positioning

Clearly another reason for repositioning a brand is current poor positioning, which will most likely be reflected in poor sales.

So whenever our sales are not great, or our market share is struggling, or perhaps declining relative to competitors  – then we need to reconsider our positioning strategy. Please note that in many cases positioning may not be the issue of poor sales, but we will need to consider it as professional marketers.

Key factors indicating poor positioning include:

  • Limited customer loyalty
  • Limited perception of product/brand differentiation among consumers
  • Under or over positioning problems
  • Vague positioning recall by consumers
  • Declining sales and market share
  • Reducing sales as new competitors enter the market

Competitor Actions Have Changed Our Positioning

It’s possible that our positioning was once good, but then comes along new competition and new competitors, and new players coming to the marketplace.

Perhaps they’re attacking us, or perhaps they’re reinventing or disrupting the market, and it’s changing how consumers think. So that’s going to impact our brand and its position.

Potentially, there’s more aggression from existing competitors, increased rivalry in the marketplace. They’re doing more; they’re releasing more product line extensions; they’ve possibly brought out a new brand.

All of those things are going to affect our position and affect how consumers see us and perhaps get them to reframe what’s important in the consumer decisions.

Changing Customer Needs

Changing customer needs are another factor. We might have had a great product, well positioned, and then over time, as lifestyles change, environments change, the needs of those segments that we were targeting have changed. So, we need to change and adapt and evolve with them.

Brand Image Damage

Our brand may have suffered some sort of brand image damage. Something went wrong with a brand;

  • there was a legal issue,
  • or a social issue,
  • or an environmental issue,
  • or and we’ve had a media problem

…and the brand has been damaged. So, we need to reinvent and reinvigorate the brand by repositioning it.

Declining Product Life Cycle Stage

As marketers, we would all know about the product life cycle and it stages of introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

So, we could find our brand in a mature (not growing) market that’s not going anywhere. Sales are flat and we usually want continued growth, as we discussed above.

Or worse, the market is now entering the decline stage and sales are falling. This means that the brand and its products will have a limited future unless we choose to reposition it – if possible.

Obviously, the decline stage of the lifecycle is also related to changing customer needs, that we also discussed above. Regardless, the brand’s potential is now limited and we need to act – and repositioning could be a very viable option.

Entering New Segments

We may want to enter new market segments. Again this goal may be related to growth or changing customer needs, or we may want to expand geographically into other countries or target different segments.

While there are many compelling reasons why we would look to expand into new segments, it may be likely that repositioning the brand (to better fit the needs of the new segments) may be required for long-term success.

How to Reposition a Brand?

Now that we have discussed the reasons why we may look to reposition a brand, let’s now discuss how we execute repositioning.

There are three main approaches, namely:

  • Using integrated marketing communications
  • Modifying our product mix and design
  • Modifying the entirety of our marketing mix offering

Let’s discuss each of these in turn below…

Repositioning by Using Integrated Marketing Communications

The simplest (and least costly) way to reposition is to rely upon our integrated marketing communication (promotional-based communications) to modify the understanding of our brand with the target audience.

We could do that through:

  • advertising messaging
  • comparative advertising
  • use of new media channels
  • maybe product placement in movies, or games
  • publicity
  • media stories and coverage
  • social media posts
  • co-brand arrangements
  • new sponsorship partners
  • use of influencers
  • we might partner with influencers to target new segments
  • showing “before and after” of our offerings
  • packaging changes
  • in-store (or online) information
  • changing our taglines
  • focus on key benefits of the brand and its products
  • focusing on new benefits
  • use promotion to bring a fresh approach to the brand
  • making the brand look more exciting and new and fresh
  • making the brand look and feel different to consumers
  • spending more money on (IMC) communications

Repositioning by Modifying Our Product Mix and Design

If we are undertaking a major repositioning, then it is likely that relying on promotions and communications alone will be insufficient. In reality, positioning relies upon multiple elements of the marketing mix and is not solely promotional-based.

So next we have a look at changing our product mix and design. This step is important because the product is foundational to our marketing mix = it’s the centerpiece. And all the other marketing mix elements, in most cases, play a supportive role.

This means that whenever we want to reposition a brand, we will need to usually have new or improved products.

As part of this, we might look at product line extensions, or adding new products to the range, or expanding the range. Ideally, these new products would have different looks, ingredients, designs, functionality.

By adding new products, we may be out execute what’s called a product line stretch. Product line stretching is when we introduce new products to the line that either increase or decrease our perception of quality.

For example, if we’re a car manufacturer and we normally sell cars in the mid-range, if we increase our line with a premium product or a luxury car, we’re stretching it upwards. And the same way, if we come out with a budget car, we’re stretching the product line downward.

This means that by adding products that are outside our normal range (higher or lower quality or different functionality), we are changing the positioning of the brand.

As an alternative to product line stretching we could also reposition the brand by using a combination of:

  • add new product features,
  • add product functionality,
  • change for the product can do,
  • change the way the product looks,
  • change the product design, style, attractiveness, colors
  • changes packaging and related information
  • add product augmentation

Please note that we can also do these product changes in combination with the integrated marketing communication repositioning tactics discussed above. Ideally, the more marketing mix elements we have in play, the greater the likelihood that the repositioning will be successful.

Repositioning by Modifying the Entirety of Our Marketing Mix Offering

And finally, probably the best way to reposition is by implementing a full marketing mix change. This is because the entirety of the marketing mix communicates our positioning.

And if this is a major brand where we have substantial future goals and profit targets – then it is worthwhile heavily investing in the repositioning.

In addition to product and promotion, as discussed above, we can change our place mix. Changing the place offering (retailers and channels), or getting into different retailers – will help reposition the brand because there is an association between the brand of the retailer and our brands.

Good retailers like to have good brands, and good brands like to have good retailers because the branding, the positioning works together.

If we look at the extended marketing mix, the process mix may also be helpful in driving repositioning. We could change the purchase and delivery process to make it easy, automate it, or use some sort of app = all of these actions will help reposition the brand.

Changing our people mix will be effective as well. Under people mix we would have our staff, equipment, training and recruitment, service standards and customer interaction, and so on. Changing these elements will also impact our positioning, provided we are a services-based marketer.

And of course, physical evidence can be very effective in driving positioning change as well. For example, if we are a retailer then the look of our stores, how we present, our online customer reviews are all part of physical evidence. It is the initial perception of a brand that is often long-lasting.

Repositioning a Brand FAQs

What is brand repositioning?

Brand repositioning is the process of changing the positioning or perception of a brand, product, or firm in the minds of consumers. It involves executing the change in the marketplace, ensuring that consumers understand the new position of the brand.

Why should a brand be repositioned?

There are several reasons to reposition a brand, including:

  • growth objectives,
  • current poor positioning,
  • competitor actions changing the brand’s positioning,
  • changing customer needs,
  • brand image damage,
  • declining product life cycle stage, and
  • entering new market segments.

How can a brand be repositioned using integrated marketing communications?

Brands can be repositioned using integrated marketing communications by changing advertising messaging, using comparative advertising, engaging with new media channels, using product placements, leveraging publicity, forming co-brand arrangements, partnering with influencers, changing packaging and in-store information, and focusing on key benefits or new benefits of the brand and its products.

How can a brand be repositioned by modifying its product mix and design?

Repositioning a brand by modifying its product mix and design can be achieved by introducing new or improved products, changing product features, functionalities, design, packaging, or augmenting the product offering. Additionally, product line stretching (introducing products outside the normal range) can also help in repositioning the brand.

How can a brand be repositioned by modifying the entirety of its marketing mix offering?

A brand can be repositioned by modifying the entire marketing mix offering, including product, promotion, place, process, people, and physical evidence.

This involves changing the place offering (retailers and channels), modifying the purchase and delivery process, changing the people mix (staff, equipment, training, recruitment, and service standards), and altering physical evidence (store appearance, online presence, and customer reviews).

What are the key factors indicating poor brand positioning?

Key factors indicating poor brand positioning include:

  • limited customer loyalty,
  • limited perception of product/brand differentiation among consumers,
  • under or over positioning problems,
  • vague positioning recall by consumers,
  • declining sales and market share, and
  • reducing sales as new competitors enter the market.


What is product line stretching, and how does it help in brand repositioning?

Product line stretching is the process of introducing new products to the existing product line that either increase or decrease the perception of quality.

By adding products that are outside the normal range (higher or lower quality or different functionality), the positioning of the brand can be changed, helping in repositioning the brand.

Related and Additional Information

Hopefully, this article on the why and how of repositioning has been helpful.

Please note that there is plenty more information on the website, including numerous resources about perceptual maps, as well as a free download.

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