• A territory map is a way of representing the space you own in the minds of your consumers.
  • It is the way you present yourself and your business to your audience.
  • It is a quick and easy way to benchmark your activity and focus your mind.

Traditionally, a sales territory is the customer group or geographical area assigned to a specific team or individual tasked with selling a product or service therein.

Marketing territory is more esoteric. From a brand perspective, it’s about which territory does a brand ‘own’ in the mind of your consumer (always in the mind of your consumers). Think Volvo and safety, Lidl and low-cost, Louis Vuitton and luxury.

One theory is that every brand should ‘own’ one territory but in practical terms, it doesn’t really work like that. In marketing theory there are around 21 territories, but practically we find it useful to think about 33, and that most companies and brands generally own a mixture. Volvo might be trying to own safety, the environment, and smartest choice, for example.


So how do businesses identify and take ownership of their territory in an accessible easy to understand format which can be used consistently throughout the organisation and across the brand?

One straightforward approach is to create a territory map, similar in structure to a Venn diagram.

Take Volvo as an example. Their territory map could consist of a Venn diagram with the intersecting circles of Safety, Environmental Responsibility, and Smartest Choice.

One of the world’s best-known brands for automotive safety, Volvo has built its reputation on the premise of protecting families and loved ones from danger (remember the diver in a cage with the shark ad) with continual safety innovations.

Likewise, their commitment to the environment dates back to the forties when they started to renovate and recondition parts, through to the present-day availability of plug-in powertrains on all models and an ambition to be climate neutral by 2040.

Because of these two embedded values, Volvo can therefore claim to ‘own’ the additional smartest choice space. They do this perfectly obviously in terms of their traditional safety and green credentials, and more covertly by suggesting to the consumer that they themselves are making a smarter, more intelligent purchase as the vehicle’s luxury element and reliability is assumed rather than overtly stated. This way they avoid direct comparison in the luxury and reliability territories with brands that do try to ‘own’ luxury such as Mercedes-Benz or reliability such as Lexus.

Ultimately, although other automotive brands may offer exactly the same, Volvo ‘owns’ ‘their’ territory.



M and S Food






For a business, identifying and owning a unique brand territory means that they can claim a differentiation from other businesses. It might not be an easy task but collating the opinions of leaders, staff, customers, and prospects can help determine what the territory is.

Once a territory map has been defined, the business, or different sectors and brands within the business, can evaluate their marketing and advertising for consistency against the brand territory. All activity can be checked against the map which can be used as a ready reckoner or a reminder of what they are trying to do. If a post, piece of marketing, or page on their website doesn’t fit in with their territory map, well – they have to ask – should they do it?