Brand Strategy Models range from the highly specific to the grossly esoteric. When attempting to understand a brand’s market perception, the strategic model should be simple, visual and provide quick reference for agile action taking.
I believe this is true of Centrality-Distincetiveness (C-D) Model devised by Niraj Dawar & Charan K. Bagga. A complete overview of the concept can be found in this excellent article on Harvard Business Review. This narrative is my take on the model and how I see it can be applied by businesses to create compelling strategies for brand experience, growth and change management.
This explainer video highlights the critical theory and provides examples of how the model can be applied within specific brand categories:
Closing the Brand Gap
“What People Think It” – versus the Brand owner’s desired Positioning – “What We Want Them Think” – (Otherwise known as the Brand Gap)
…making their brands distinctive and making them central in their category. Central brands, such as Coca-Cola in soft drinks and McDonald’s in fast food, are those that are most representative of their type. They’re the first ones to come to mind, and they serve as reference points for comparison. These brands shape category dynamics, including consumer preferences, pricing, and the pace and direction of innovation. Distinctive brands, such as Tesla in cars and Dos Equis in beer, stand out from the crowd and avoid direct competition with widely popular central brands.
Using the tool, managers can determine a desired market position, make resource allocation and brand strategy decisions, track performance against competitors over time, and evaluate strategy on the basis of results.
Mapping Your Brand – The Centrality-Distinctiveness Quadrants
Understanding Brand Position & Perception
The C-D Map can be used to determine a Brand’s perception by consumers, comparative to the brand’s own desired positioning. Understanding the difference (or Brand Gap) allows companies to make strategic decisions that help narrow the gap between market perception and desired brand positioning.
Unconventional – High Distinctiveness, Low Centrality
Aspirational – High Distinctiveness, High Centrality
Peripheral – Low Distinctiveness, Low Centrality
Mainstream – Low Distinctiveness, High Centrality