Brand Gap Analysis

1/07/24 | Brandwell

Every business has a brand, whether they intend to or not. It encompasses various elements, including logos, names, emotions, and associations– that make a business stand out and connect with their audience. However, sometimes there can be a disconnect between how a brand wants to be perceived and how it is actually perceived, which can have negative consequences, including wasting resources on campaigns that don’t resonate with customers or even having customer defect to competitors. This disconnect is called a brand gap. 

If your brand is not performing as expected, it might be time for a brand gap analysis. In this article we will look at signs your company may need to conduct a brand gap analysis and the steps to undertake one to close the brand gap and build trust, value and loyalty among your customers.  

What is a Brand Gap?

A brand gap is the gap between how a brand wants to be perceived and what the consumer actually experiences. A brand gap may occur for a number of reasons, including marketing strategies not aligning with the brand’s creative outputs, leaving the brand looking disjointed or ineffective. Building positive customer experiences requires creating a cohesive, consistent identity that gains traction and equity within the market. It is very difficult to build a successful brand if your customers are not perceiving you the way you intend. 

One notable brand gap example is in 2011, when Netflix experienced a disconnect between becoming “the best global entertainment distribution service” and how consumers viewed it as a DVD rental service that was falling behind in the digital era. To bridge this divide, Netflix separated its DVD and streaming divisions and committed resources to creating original content and expanding its presence worldwide.

What is a Brand Gap Analysis? 

A brand gap analysis, also known as a “needs assessment” or “needs analysis” is a tool for measuring where a brand is now and where the brand aims to be. Data is collected and analysed to generate a comparison of actual state with desired state of the brand. It is a critical tool for business and has many advantages including generating an in-depth analysis of current business operations, assessment of innovation and marketing efficiency, and solutions for resource allocation improvement. 

In addition, a brand gap analysis can evaluate where your brand stands in terms of perception compared to your competitors and offer insights into potential new product categories.  

The advantages of a gap analysis can be different for every business, but you should generally expect to come away with a better understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, pain points and goals to help navigate the market. 

Signs You Need a Brand Gap Analysis 

If you are finding your marketing campaigns aren’t hitting the mark or your customers are defecting to your competitors, then it’s probably time to undertake a brand gap analysis. One of the biggest risks of not having clear alignment of your brand is irreparable damage to your reputation and credibility because of confusion or disappointment among your customers. Other signs you might need a brand gap analysis include:

Inconsistent messaging: When a brand communicates different or conflicting messages across different channels and platforms it can lead to confusion and distrust among its customers. For example, if a brand promotes itself as environmentally friendly online but uses excessive packaging or harmful materials in its products, it undermines its identity and image. Ensuring messaging is consistent and resonates core brand values and positioning is one way to avoid this. 

Poor customer experience: When a brand falls short of fulfilling its commitments or meeting customer expectations, it can lead to discontent and disappointment. For example, if a brand promises swift and reliable service, but customers face prolonged wait times, encounter rude staff, or receive sub-par products, it widens the disparity between its assurances and its actual performance. To prevent such issues, brands must prioritise delivering a consistently positive and remarkable customer experience at every touch point, from initial awareness to purchase and beyond into the post-purchase phase.

Lack of differentiation: When a brand lacks a distinctive or captivating value proposition that distinguishes it from competitors, it creates indifference among its customer base. For instance, if a brand provides products or services similar to its competitors without a unique personality, narrative, or benefit, it fails to bridge the divide between its identity and its perceived image. To avoid this, brands must ensure the presence of a distinct and clear point of differentiation to highlight their strengths and resonate with their target audience.

You may also want to undertake a gap analysis for strategic planning or performance review purposes. A brand gap analysis helps you act on facts, rather than opinions, to reach your highest potential. 

The 5 Steps of Brand Gap Analysis 

There’s no standard process for undertaking a brand gap analysis, since it should usually be tailored to meet your own needs, but by following the common steps below, your brand will gain insights into its current position, desired destination and strategies to bridge the two.

Step 1: Analyse current state 

To begin, select a specific area of focus within your business and assess its current status. Understanding your organisation’s present position is crucial before devising strategies to achieve your objectives. For example, imagine your customer support team frequently reports instances where interactions leave customers feeling frustrated. That may prompt questions about whether the issue lies with the product or if the support team requires additional training in managing challenging calls. This necessitates delving deeper by engaging with relevant stakeholders, collecting data and analysing key performance indicators. Other sources of information you can use to define your current state include feedback, market research or intelligence, competitor analysis or your company’s Net Promoter Survey score.

Once you have collected your data, consider using tools to support analysis including customer journey maps, empathy maps, service blueprints, or process flows. This will help you make sense of all the information and identify your brand’s strengths, weaknesses and pain points.  

Step 2: Identify where you want to go 

Once your brand gaps have been identified, it’s time to look at how to close those disparities. This step should define the strategies and resources necessary to address the gaps and progress towards your desired state. For instance, you may discover despite having an exceptional marketing team, outsourcing all content has led to a lack of brand cohesion due to disparate freelancers. Your aspiration might be to regain control of the content creation process to reclaim your brand identity. Consider using a mix of short-term and long-term actions, ensuring the plan remains realistic and attainable. Utilising tools like brainstorming boards or mind maps can effectively harness your team’s creativity but remember, a gap analysis is not a wish list. 

Step 3: Compare the current and future state 

The third step is to identify the gap between your brand vision and reality, which is the difference between where you are and where you want to be. The gap can be positive or negative, depending on whether your current brand reality exceeds or falls short of your brand vision. You should be realistic and objective when defining your current and desired state. You should not overestimate or underestimate your current performance or set unrealistic or vague expectations for your desired state. You should also avoid bias and assumptions that can skew your data and analysis.

A useful tool at this stage would be a decision tree, to assess the costs and benefits based on conditional probabilities during this decision-making process.

Step 4 : Quantify gaps and show solutions 

The fourth step involves prioritising the crucial issues and opportunities identified through the gap analysis—those that are most vital and pressing for improvement or exploitation. These key areas should align closely with your brand vision, goals, values, as well as customer needs and expectations. To prioritise these issues and opportunities effectively, various tools can be utilised, including prioritisation matrices, impact-effort matrices, or value-proposition matrices. Criteria such as importance, urgency, feasibility, or impact can also be employed to rank them accordingly.

Step 5: Create plan to fill gaps 

You’ve completed the necessary groundwork, and now it’s time for action. Armed with an understanding of your brand gaps, the focus shifts to devising strategies for closure. Ensure any proposed improvements stem directly from the insights gained during the gap identification process. Additionally, factor in the implementation costs of each solution, considering potential limitations in capital or capacity. Utilise the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to establish clear and feasible goals and objectives. Assign responsibilities, allocate resources, and set deadlines for each action plan. Continuously monitor and evaluate progress and outcomes, making necessary adjustments along the way.

Types of Brand Gap Analysis 

While there are five common tools for brands to conduct a brand gap analysis, keep in mind there isn’t a single correct method for performing one. The objective is to gain deeper insights into your brand and determine strategies for goal achievement.

SWOT ANALYSIS 

A SWOT analysis focuses on Strengths and Weaknesses in the internal environment and Opportunities and Threats in the external environment. It helps you determine where you stand within your industry or market. However, the threat portion veers into risk assessment and it’s important to note a gap analysis is not a risk assessment.

FISHBONE DIAGRAM 

Fishbone diagrams, also known as Ishikawa diagrams, are widely used for analysing causes and their effects. Branding is an area that can greatly benefit from the systematic approach offered by fishbone diagrams, particularly because it tends to be challenging to measure and often involves diverse opinions. 

MCKINSEY 7S FRAMEWORK 

McKinsey 7S can be used to help with areas, including understanding the gaps that may appear in the business and examining the results of future changes.

The 7’s refer to key interrelated elements of an organisation, which are divided into two groups; hard elements, which are tangible as they can be controlled, and soft elements which are intangible as they cannot be controlled.

NADLER-TUSHMAN MODEL 

The Nadler-Tushman’s congruence model is used to identify performance gaps within an organisation. This model breaks a company’s performance into four areas: work, people, structure and culture. Note each area’s strengths and weaknesses, and then compare them to the other areas. The goal is to find out if the work being done in each area supports the others. 

PEST ANALYSIS 

PEST analysis (political, economic, social, and technological) is a management method where an organisation can assess major external factors that influence its operation in order to become more competitive in the market. A PEST analysis helps organisations identify and leverage opportunities presented by the prevailing conditions in the business environment, as well as pinpointing present or potential future challenges, enabling strategic planning for their effective management.

Benefits of Brand Gap Analysis 

Identifying the gap between a brand’s current position and its desired destination brings numerous benefits, including savings in time, money, materials and human resources, as well as:

  • Addressing weaknesses: Discover areas of weakness and shortcomings that need attention.
  • Perception vs. reality: Uncover discrepancies between perceptions and actual situations.
  • Guiding decision makers: Provide crucial information that facilitates better decision-making.
  • Brand strategy alignment: Align brand strategy with business goals and customer needs.
  • Brand experience consistency: Create a consistent and compelling brand experience across all touchpoints.

In this article we’ve shown a Brand Gap Analysis is essential for businesses aiming to elevate their market position. We delved into identifying whether your business needs a brand gap analysis and detailed the steps to execute one effectively and shown how closing the brand gap can significantly enhance customer trust, increase value and foster loyalty.

If you want to take your brand to the next level, but are having trouble reaching your goals, it might be time to consider a brand gap analysis and give the team at Brandwell a call.