Brand Leadership Matrix


How healthy is your brand? Is it a leader in its sector or is it a follower? Are you able to command premium pricing and own the most profitable customer segments? Are you leveraging and optimizing your brand fully or are you living off its past legacy without continuous innovation and revitalization? Giving the financial values attributed to brands today, staying on top of the brand ladder is critical to success. Strong brands ensure a stable growing income stream while weak brands live from day-to-day. Understanding the health of your brand and managing it as a financial asset ensures that it is accorded the maximum attention and protection that it deserves.

Brand Leadership Matrix

Adapted from the BCG Matrix developed in the ‘70s to analyze corporate investment strategy, the Brand Leadership Matrix was developed with the purpose of helping brand owners measure and analyze the strength of their brands and the effectiveness of their branding and marketing strategies.

The vertical matrix measures market share, an indicator of the brand’s leadership position. The horizontal matrix measures market share growth relative to the competitive set, an indicator of the brand’s health.

Quadrant 1, dubbed “The Underdog”, is a brand with a low market share and declining share growth. The Underdog has low brand visibility and consumer top-of-mind. It typically competes on price, promotion, or some other functional dimensions. As a result, it is also likely to have the lowest returns and thus lacking the investment required to compete with its stronger rivals for market share. The Underdog shall not be missed should it disappear from the market as customer loyalty is typically low for brands in this quadrant. In the FMCG category, The Underdog could be replaceable by supermarket private labels.

Quadrant 2, dubbed “The Challenger”, is a brand with a low market share but positive share growth. It is a brand that is going places. The Challenger is a niche brand that competes by having a well-defined target market and a highly focused strategy at serving the needs of that segment. The Challenger brand is highly creative and nimble. It often challenges the establishment by coming up with innovative products and services and ways to market them. The Challenger brand might exhibit the potential to become a leading brand as the appeal of the brand spreads beyond its target market, often by word-of-mouth from its loyal customers.

Quadrant 3, dubbed “The Leader”, is a brand with a high market share and positive share growth. It is a brand that radiates energy and momentum. The Leader dominates in perception terms the essential brand equities of the category (For example, the essential equities in the luxury goods sector include product design, designer reputation, quality, store décor, image creation, and publicity). Customers are often prepared to forgive some minor errors from The Leader due to the high regard they have for the brand. However, to maintain its leadership position, the brand must continue to stay relevant in its category or better yet lead the changes/innovation in the category.

Quadrant 4, dubbed “The Ex-Champ” is a brand with a high market share but negative share growth. It is a brand that is living off of its past glories. The Ex-Champ still exhibits sufficient brand equity to retain the majority of its existing customer base, but not enough to attract new ones. Simply put, the brand has lost its ability to innovate and stay relevant in its category. However, as the luxury goods sector has clearly demonstrated, The Ex-Champ could be resurrected as there might still be inherent equities in the brand.

Impact of the Brand Leadership Matrix TM on Brand Tracking & Measurement

The Brand Leadership Matrix has particularly important implications on tracking and measurement of brand health. Companies routinely spend millions each year to promote their brands. How well is that money spent? Do you employ a regular tracking and measurement system? Do you have a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) agreement with your communications agency? And if so, does the KPI take into consideration your market strategy and your brand’s stage of development?

At Leadership Equity Group, we believe that brands should be measured against their intended market strategies rather than a one-size-fits all tracking and measurement system. Brands at different stages of development also require a different set of KPIs.


Brand Hub, September, 2002


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