In order to differentiate your brand from the competition, you're going to have to correctly position it in the market. Otherwise, it will be swallowed up.
This is called—you guessed it—brand positioning, and lots of branding and marketing gurus are talking about the need for it.
How many of them are giving you a step-by-step guide for effectively positioning your brand?
How many of them have left you with a solid grasp on the concept of brand positioning?
If you're still scratching your head, not really understanding brand positioning or how to make it happen, I've got some simple, easy-to-implement steps for you.
Let's get started.
Simple Steps for Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is about creating a unique space for your brand in the market. Even more importantly, it's about reserving a space in the minds of your target audience members. In some cases, the brand builder is responsible for finding that mind space; in other cases, he or she must create it—either by making a strong impression that replaces another, or by moving other impressions to the background.
Under no circumstance should you assume that your business can compete for the same mind space as a nearly identical brand. What will differentiate your brand? What will motivate your ideal customers to focus on your brand instead of the other one? Most often, situations like this come down to a price war—one that your brand will lose, particularly if it's got nothing worth the extra spend by consumers.
So how can you find (and claim) the right position for your brand? Here's what I suggest:
- How is your brand organically positioned, right now? In other words, as it is, what kind of unique impressions is your brand set to make? You are a unique individual, and as the founder of this brand, it too will be unique by nature. Is that uniqueness enough to set it apart from the competition? Occasionally, it will be. More often, you'll have to continue boiling it down.
- Name your corporate values (if you haven't already done so). Knowing what's important to your brand—and to your ideal customers—will help you determine where your brand should land. It will also help you to shape the communications that will tell your target audience what makes your brand unique.
- With whom will you be competing? You can't possibly compete (with any level of success) unless you know what you're up against. Study your direct competitors and make lists of their strengths, weaknesses and gaps in service. Take note of where your strengths outshine their weaknesses and where their strengths are going to cause you difficulty.
- How are those competitors positioned? What unique quality is each of those competitors using to set themselves apart? For the most part, these are qualities you need to avoid whilst positioning your brand. The only time I would suggest mirroring the competition's position is if you're fully confident that you can out-deliver and fill the gaps in service their current customers are experiencing. And even then, be prepared to react should they 'up their game.'
- Name your brand position. This is it! It's time to position your brand. Using the copious amounts of data you've collected, it's time to use your strengths, their weaknesses, what's already happening in the market, along with gaps in service, to carve out the alcove that your brand will occupy. It will be a place all its own, because none of your competitors will have exactly what you have. It will be something that makes your target audience members turn their heads…instead of rolling their eyes and muttering, Not another one.
- Write your brand positioning statement. This is a one- or two-sentence statement that tells people the benefits of your brand, as well as what makes it unique (as compared to the competition). In order to write an effective brand positioning statement, you must know the category your brand will be trading in, the promise your brand is making, the customer it intends to serve, the difference people will perceive in your brand and the reason your ideal customers should care. As a template, you can use this: [Brand Name] is the [Market]'s most [Differentiating Statement] for [Ideal Customers] who want [Benefits and Promises]. After you write it, put it away for at least a day, then revisit it and ask yourself:
- Is it clear?
- Is it specific?
- Is it believable?
- Does it showcase the uniqueness of my brand?
- Will it match people's initial perceptions of my brand?
- Will it still apply after my brand grows?
- Will my ideal customers see the value in it?
- Is it action-inducing?
- Does it give me something to follow as I make brand decisions, going forward?
- Will it withstand criticism from my competition?
In closing, I'd like to leave you with the idea that in order for any brand positioning strategy to work, it must be flexible and reassessed on a regular basis. Markets change, consumer trends shift, markets adjust…and if your brand isn't able to react along with those alterations, it's likely to be left behind.
Would you like to continue this conversation about brand positioning? Then get over to the How to Build a Brand group and join. It's FREE, and filled with entrepreneurs and business owners who are in the process of building brands. Not only will you have lots of networking opportunities, you'll get daily advice from branding experts, as well as weekly Live Brand Breakthroughs sessions. See you in the group!