Often strategic maps provide companies with a visual representation of where a brand sits amongst the competition to demonstrate what makes them distinctive. However, these usually omit details surrounding brand positioning and what makes them central in their category. Marrying brand centrality and distinctiveness is no easy feat, but it can be done with effective brand mapping.


Implementing a mapping solution

With the aim to combine both brand centrality and distinctiveness, Charan K. Bagga and Niraj Dawar developed a new approach to strategic mapping called the centrality-distinctiveness (C-D) map. This works by allowing companies to define their brand’s market position, make resource allocation and evaluate brand strategy. Additionally, this tool enables companies to track their brand’s performance against competitors over time.


Producing a C-D Map

Creating a C-D map requires time and effort, but the benefits outweigh the initial input. To begin with, a company identifies the geographic market of interest and the customer segments to be surveyed. They will then run a survey in order to gather data which scores consumers’ perceptions of the brand’s centrality and distinctiveness on a scale of 1-10. These results will generate unique coordinates to determine the brand’s position on the map.

The C-D map is split on a 2x2 basis, with 4 distinct quadrants. These are based on four categories, ‘Unconventional’, ‘Peripheral’,‘Aspirational’ and ‘Mainstream’.

Centrality Distinctiveness map diagram
The Centrality-Distinctiveness map

Where the brand falls on the map – based on its unique coordinates – has implications for key decisions such as pricing, sales volumes, risk, and profitability.


Reading the map  

It’s useful to not only chart where your business falls on a C-D map but also where your competitors stand. We take a look at what type of brands would fall into each category.



Brands which fall within this category usually specialise in a niche product or service and aren’t particularly central. Generally, these brands don’t appeal to the masses, but they can charge higher rates for their service due to not standing within a crowded market.  



Often attracting the most profitability of the four categories, ‘aspirational’ brands combine both centrality and distinctiveness in high measure. This means they hold mass appeal but can keep their prices high due to a strong reputation. These brands are often challenged by similar brands in mainstream and unconventional quadrants so need to make high investments and constantly innovate to strike the balance between remaining both mainstream and distinctive.



Peripheral brands are neither central nor distinctive, yet they can still generate high profits due to low marketing and innovation costs. They tend to replicate a product or service of a mainstream brand and draw in customers with lower prices.



Mainstream brands are central but not distinctive and are often carefully aligned to appeal to popular tastes. They are generally regarded as reliable, recognisable brands. Although this means they need to work hard to avoid ‘rocking the boat’, this position allows them to influence their market and generate higher sales volumes by offering lower prices.


Analysing results  

Having identified your position as a brand, you can then repeatedly chart your position following campaigns, incentives and otherwise, allowing you to track how these changes have affected this. You may consider changing your brand’s position to attract a new type of audience, or you could be working to retain your position year- in and year-out.  


How Skein can help your business

No brand’s position is set in stone, so whether you are looking to change your position or remain where you are, we can help make that happen through strategic planning, intuitive thinking and robust marketing. To find out more about what we can do for you, get in touch here.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash