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C-D Mapping: A New Approach to Marketing Strategy Development

Digital Marketing
October 2, 2023
11 min

In order to remain reputable, analyze the position of competitors, and find growth points, companies often develop perception maps.

However, the major weakness of the perceptual map tool is its inability to demonstrate the relationship between brand perception and corporate performance.

On the contrary, business entities must apply other tools for measuring market share, growth rates and profitability. Hence, having a single marketing tool which combines the KPIs and customers’ perception of the brand would be a considerable benefit for enterprises.

For this matter, Canadian Ivey Business School professors have developed a new framework, called C-D mapping. It combines all reputational and business indicators that can be used when developing a marketing strategy.

What is C-D mapping?

Centrality-Distinctiveness (C-D) mapping model is a framework which allows charting a brand's position within its competitive environment and provides a broader strategic outlook, grounded in measurable data rather than relying solely on intuition.

Marketers usually face the challenge of combining two contradicting goals. On one hand, they need to make the brand as popular as possible, central to its product category. On the other hand, the trademark also needs to be distinct and unique enough.

For instance, viewing the soft drinks and fast food industry, the first brands that come to mind are Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Definitely, they are central once in the segment and are considered to be the reference for other market participants. These brands determine the dynamics and trends of niches, such as consumer preferences, prices, innovations, etc. On the contrary, distinct brands like Tesla avoid direct competition with “central” companies. Even though they are not niche trendsetters, such brands are still highly valued among a narrow range of consumers.

By combining these two criteria, Ivy business school professors developed a new framework, namely C-D mapping, which consists of two major components:

C (centrality) — market share occupied by the brand;

D (distinctiveness) — the points of difference of the brand that allows it to be perceived as a non-mainstream one.

C-D map promodo

At the same time, one of the main market mapping advantages and benefits of the C-D mapping tool is the fact that it not only reflects the image of the brand in terms of its uniqueness and popularity in the market but also connects it with business indicators, such as sales volume and price category of products. The Y-axis shows the product price and the X-axis shows the amount of sales/market share. Data about value and sales affect the size of the brand circle on the map.

Such visualization can help companies make decisions about price strategy changes and set reasonable KPIs based on sales volumes. Usually, enhancing recognition in the market allows increasing the price. At the same time, the increasing centrality growth leads to an increase in sales volumes. This way, brands can quickly build a basis for understanding where they are and where they need to go to achieve their business goals.

C-D mapping is more focused on strategic marketing, but the digital strategy is no less important nowadays. Therefore, we recommend reading our recent article called RACE Framework: Your Practical Tool For Effective Digital Marketing

Four Types of Brands According to the CD in Marketing

The authors of the concept offer to determine the position of the brand according to the coordinate system with four quarters. Let’s consider each of these quarters and four types of brands according to mapping marketing strategy.


Companies in this zone are distinctive, but not central to the category. This means they can settle on high prices, due to their brand appeal (for example, Tesla or Mini Coopers) but will have a niche appeal.


Brands from this quarter are both distinctive and central, which is a rare combination that many companies and their marketers strive to achieve. It means that they have a large volume of sales and can charge high prices because they have a high buyer appeal. Obviously, this leads to higher profitability, but it is also important to consider that the investment to maintain this status in research and innovation will always be higher. Continuing the topic of the automobile industry, BMW and Mercedes are examples in this section.


Peripheral brands are not the main players in their niche and do not have bright distinctive features. Thus, they do not have a large volume of sales and do not settle on high prices for their products, but still suit a certain part of consumers and therefore continue to be in the market. The option for growth in such a case is to take away the audience of the competing brand from the same quarter because they are not able to compete with inspiring companies. An example of a peripheral brand in the automobile industry is KIA.


The mainstream brands can also occupy a central place in the market, but at the same time, they do not have outstanding distinctive features and attractiveness for the majority of people. For instance, Nissan is the brand which fits but doesn’t wow.

How to Use CD Digital Marketing

Among other marketing mapping strategies, this framework is highly effective, due to several characteristics. First of all, it uses quantitative indicators. In addition, it allows you to determine the emotional perception and distinguishing features of the brand in the minds of consumers.

Once the brand has determined its position in this scheme, the marketing team can use it as a starting point in building a strategy:

  • peripheral brands can aim to be unconventional ones;
  • unconventional should find out how to become aspirational companies;
  • if a brand is already in the aspirational quarter, it must continue to try new tactics to strengthen its competition;
  • if the company belongs to the mainstream type with a low-cost business model, it can invest in customer service or increase the number of customers.

Developing a marketing strategy requires an in-depth study of customers, the market and potential opportunities. It is critical to keep up with the trends, not to miss innovations’ benefits and not to be left behind in the competition race. Such complicated tasks are best to be delegated to the professionals in the sphere. Tell Promodo specialists about your business, so that together they can determine the vector of its development.

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October 2, 2023
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