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Positioning – Staking Your Brand’s Claim

October 10, 2016

Twister.jpgEvery business (or product, service, campaign, event, project, nonprofit, whatever) that needs to be marketed, has to do what it can to minimize competition and maximize income. This requires the organization in question to position itself properly within the vast landscape of brands that are out there. The world is full of other brands, competing, commanding attention, cluttering up the minds of buyers. In such a world, no brand can succeed for long if it is not positioned in a way that makes it most attractive to its best prospective customers while also putting its competition at a disadvantage. Proper positioning takes some effort. No one person can be in command of all the competing narratives in the world, so you can’t just trust your instincts alone. Every brand needs a formal positioning statement.

The beauty of writing a formal positioning statement for your brand asset is it compels you to do the work that leads up to and informs the statement. That is, you have to make a real business case for positioning your brand in a certain way relative to your competition. In doing so, you’ll have to take a sober look at your products and/or services, your customers’ experiences, your competitive environment and your own internal values. It’s important to study all these facets of your business because only by doing so can you begin to understand what your brand looks like to the outside world – your market. Only then will you know how it should be perceived in order to maximize growth and revenue – and minimize competition.

A good positioning statement describes how you want your market to perceive you. Actually, it’s more accurate to say it describes how you want your market to feel about you. Purchases, of any sort, of any size, are driven by emotions. So, before you can define your brand, you have to be aware of what kinds of emotional factors will drive someone to purchase from you. In B2B situations, fear and pride are two emotions that often drive purchasing decisions. Fear of making the wrong decision. Pride in making the right choice and adding value to the company. But there are usually other emotional factors in play as well. In the B2C world, any number of emotions can drive sales. How does one determine which emotions are going to drive sales for your particular brand? Ask.

Flags.jpgAt Boardwalk, we begin by identifying the brand’s constituencies. We define constituencies as any group whose perception of a brand is important to its future. So customers, obviously, are one constituency. So are employees, prospective employees, vendors, financiers, competitors, regulatory agencies and the press. There will be a different group of constituencies for every brand. Once identified, we pull a representative sampling from each group and conduct in-person interviews with them. We want to know about their dealings with the brand. We’re looking for themes, patterns, common threads that hold true across all the constituencies. Those, we can take as solid truths – actionable insights – about the brand.

At the same time, we conduct a survey of the competitive landscape. We examine what approaches the competition is taking to branding. We note their strengths and weaknesses. We identify whatever territory they leave open for exploitation.

When it comes time to gather up and analyze all our findings, it gradually becomes clear where the opportunities lie for our client. We can see, fairly quickly, what differentiates our client from the competition. More importantly, when presented with our findings, our client gains absolute clarity on how the brand needs to be positioned, identified and marketed. It only remains to then write up the formal positioning statement.

A strong positioning statement makes a brand promise – a unique, differentiating promise that only the brand in question can keep. We’ve written about the brand promise in detail elsewhere on this blog. Every brand promise should be characterized by the eight following qualities.

•  Proprietary
•  Authentic
•  Aspirational
•  Achievable
•  Focused
•  Consistent
•  Sustainable
•  Simple

It’s important that positioning explorations be completed before any kind of identifying work is begun. The brand’s positioning will lead to a better brand name, more apt visual identity, more on-target marketing communication tools, etc. For best results, first, position the brand. Then identify it. Then communicate its single brand promise to every one of its constituencies.

Best Branding Reads – Week of October 10, 2016

Negative Chatter About Samsung Shot Up After the Galaxy Note 7 Debacle
All hands on deck! Brand in distress! Now what?!

What carmakers need to learn from Nokia’s failure
Siegel+Gale makes another case for keeping brands simple.

Brandspeak: Who Are Brand Advocates and Why Do We Need them?
I didn’t want to post this but I was influenced to do so.

Best Global Brands 2016
Guess what new brand breaks in this year at number 100?

New Logo and Identity for Imagen
Agree with author: tough to get something this simple approved. But glad they did!

Refining Aston Villa’s club badge
This case study shows why its always best to work with true professionals. Perfection!

Employer Brand Strategy And Talent
The same messaging that attracts the perfect customer also attracts the perfect employee.

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