30 Choices that can Make or Break Your Brand

The “Elements of Value” HBR article by Bain & Company Partners (Eric Almquist, John Senior, and Nicholas Bloch) is a must read for Brand Builders. While the authors don’t specifically discuss “Brand Positioning” and Points-of-Difference / Points-of-Parity, their 30 Elements Pyramid is a “must have” tool in the toolbox for anyone doing positioning work. This provides a high level recap of the HBR article and my tips for application to Brand Positioning.

The authors believe that there is a “universal set of building blocks of value that allow companies to come up with new combinations of value that its products and services could deliver”.  They have identified 30 “Elements of Value” that fall into four Categories of needs in a Maslow-like hierarchy: Functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. These Categories are oft discussed in Marketing circles, but the unpacking these 4 into 30 distinct sources of value makes it super actionable. For example, “convenience” which frequently surfaces in positioning work is unpacked to reveal: saves time, avoids hassle, simplifies, and reduces effort.


Click here to see all 30 Elements of Value (after 4th paragraph)

The Bain & Company work further reveals:

  • Companies that perform well on multiple elements of value (4+) have more loyal customers as measured by NPS and 4x the revenue growth (Apple, USAA, TOMS, Amazon)
  • Pure-play digital retailers (think Amazon) with “astonishing growth” achieve high scores on many (like 8) elements of value.
  • Once Quality expectations are met, critical elements are industry dependent (“sensory appeal” is critical in Food / Bev; Digital companies excel on “saves time” / “avoids hassle”)

So, more is better, but you can’t realistically have all 30. This is where tough choices on Brand Positioning come in. Brand Builders would be remiss to do positioning work without using this model. Top tips for leveraging this gem for more robust Brand Positioning:

  1. Discuss the relative importance of each rung in the Pyramid and each individual value element as a driver of Brand choice in your Category. If you don’t have this data, get it! Positioning requires you to understand drivers of choice in your Category.
  2. Then understand which Brand(s) are over and under-delivering on each element and why. Again, this is critical data to inform positioning choices.
  3. Decide which value elements you want as Points-of-Difference and the feasibility of attaining. Prioritize and make tough choices on which elements you will pursue as Points-of-Difference.
  4. Then determine – for all remaining value elements – which must be Points-of-Parity to enable you to be a Category player (Category Points-of-Parity) or to keep a competitor at bay (Competitive Points-of-Parity).
  5. What’s left? Any elements you’ve not chosen as Points-of-Difference or Points-of-Parity will likely become Points-of-Disadvantage. Can you live with those?

LPA specializes in Brand Strategy and we love “wicked positioning challenges”.  We’re excited to see how the Elements of Value can enhance positioning choices.

Click here for 30 Elements of Value