Companies rarely exist in a vacuum, therefore, they always have competition. Whether large or small, at the top or bottom, there’s always someone competing for your customers—and vice versa.
It’s called your Brandscape, and it’s the terrain for which you contend, the geography your brand lives on. And if you were to climb to the highest vista of that terrain, take a sweeping look around, you would find it a complicated and diverse place.
Take a simple example: Pepsi Cola. What does Pepsi’s Brandscape look like, who lives there? Who is competing with Pepsi Cola? Coca-Cola seems an obvious choice, both Coke and Pepsi being delicious, dark colas—Pepsi versus Coke is a choice most of us have had to make at some time or another.
Then, of course, there’s the myriad of other cola offerings: RC, Sprite, Orange Crush, Fresca, and the list goes on, all of them living in the same brand zip code as Pepsi. You could maybe stop there and get a good sense of the Brandscape, collate, calculate, catalog and study each and every brand of cola, and you would have a pretty good picture of what you were up against.
But it would be incomplete.
To understand the Brandscape, and, most importantly, its effect, you would have to go deeper, to look at all aspects of who Pepsi Cola is up against, that customers have choices, deep, three-dimensional choices, and that it’s more complicated than Pepsi or Coke, Pepsi or RC Cola, Pepsi or Any-Other-Cola. That it’s Pepsi or Lemonade, Pepsi or Tea, Pepsi or Water, Pepsi or No Drink At All. Once we understand that, once we understand the choices and that the Brandscape goes beyond direct relationships, we’ll understand what’s at stake, and that’s what will be most important in connecting with your customers.
To Pepsi, it’s more than being the deepest, darkest, most bubbly and delicious cola on the market and it’s more than out-cola-ing Coca-Cola in sales. It’s understanding the stakes of the Brandscape. Which is, when we take a hard and intelligent look, about thirst, refreshment, and connecting with customers.