Measuring Brand Strategy with C-D Maps

CD model


Came across an article in the Harvard Business Review which presents a “new approach” called the centrality-distinctiveness (C-D) map, which the author believes is the first tool that allows companies to connect a brand’s position along with business outcomes, such as sales and price, on a perceptual map to allow managers to determine market position, make decisions around resources, and track performance against rivals.

The article states that although the process of creating a C-D is straightforward, yet labour intensive, focusing on “centrality” and “distinctiveness” as dimensions for the 2×2 map will yield better results than traditional, narrow, product characteristics alone.  Depending on where a brand falls on the map, there are implications for pricing, sales and profitability.

It’s mentioned that for an Aspirational brand, those high on distinctiveness and centrality, can command higher prices for their products.  An example would be BMW automobiles.  Those low in distinctiveness and appeal/centrality would not be able to command as high a premium as an aspirational brand.  Examples include Hyundai.

I find that as a tool, the C-D map makes sense, since there is importance in being able to tell whether your brand in distinctive and central in the minds of consumers, or whether it’s viewed as more peripheral or mainstream.  However, I also think that in addition to those dimensions listed in the article, product specific features also have an impact on whether higher prices or sales volumes can be had for a product/brand.  Similarly, not all distinctive brands would be able to command higher premiums, and vice versa for those more in mainstream.  As with all tools, there is one perfect way of measuring brand strategy and performance.  Multiple methods should be employed to paint the best, and most accurate, picture.  What are your thoughts on the model?

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Anthony Prowell

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