Believe it or not, on a typical day, by 10 am, you would have already made about 4,000 choices. Some are conscious…others are subconscious.
Whether it be the foods we eat, the billboard we read or how many times you hit snooze before finally getting out of bed; our choices are plentiful. In fact, the average person makes a whopping 35,000 choices every day. And all these decisions begin to define who we are and the role we play in this world. So if our choices are a reflection of who we are, how does your product, service or brand become one of the positive choices a consumer makes? Better yet, how does your brand become a part of what defines your consumers?
Well, consider this, at the same time we’re all busy making the decisions that shape our day, marketers are busy trying to get our attention. They’re throwing messaging at us constantly, some estimates say to the tune of about 5,000 ads per day. That’s a lot of things competing for our attention and we’re a distracted bunch. And no wonder, it’s not even noon and you and I both, still have about 18,000 decisions to make.
We’re so overwhelmed by this barrage of options and decisions that there’s even a name for it: ‘choice overload’. Which is why we tend to follow routines: eat at the same places, sit at the same spot, take the same traffic route. Routine makes choice more manageable. So how does a business owner or marketer cut through the clutter and break us out of our regular purchasing routine, so that we make the decision to give them a go?
Two simple words. Brand positioning.
Brand positioning gives you a foundation to build on. It will help to simplify decision-making in an overly-saturated marketing world and can continually drive your business forward. The right brand positioning places the needs of the customer first, then builds upon aspirations, needs, and a deeper understanding of the competition. Without it, your business won’t have a clearly defined focus and you risk being flat out ignored.
It’s important to understand that your organization’s brand identity is a direct reflection of how consumer’s perceive your brand. And brand positioning happens regardless of whether or not you have clearly defined it or influenced it. In order to get noticed and rise above all the other people competing in the marketplace, you need rock solid, relatable and well thought out brand positioning.
So, let’s dig in. There are four key areas that you need to think about when creating your brand positioning:
Marketplace Positioning Statement
Key Value Proposition
1 – Marketplace Positioning Statement
The act of building a marketplace brand positioning statement involves being conscious and deliberate about establishing your business’s personality and image. A good positioning statement will showcase what unique product, service and/or approach your organization offers and how it’s proprietary to other competing organizations out there offering a similar service (either directly or indirectly).
A good positioning statement will identify:
- Who your target audience is
- The unique product, service and/or approach you provide
- Your point of differentiation
- Proof-points that back up your claim
Why have a positioning statement?
- Like a human being, the clearer the characteristics your brand has, the more memorable you will be
- A unique point of differentiation helps to eliminate your organization from becoming a commodity
- Culturally, it helps to ensure everyone in the organization knows how to act and behave when offering your product, service or approach
How is it different from marketing?
While branding focuses on who you are as an organization and the unique value you offer, marketing (if done right) should focus on the motivations, desires and pain points your ideal customer has. Marketing is all about your customer, not your organization. Your brand positioning statement will inform every, single marketing decision you make.
That’s why it’s imperative that you get it right.
Once you have a positioning statement, what do you do with it?
This is where businesses sometimes falter. You’ve spent money and time developing your positioning but what do you do with it? For your marketplace positioning statement to be successful and influence the perception of your brand, it needs to be the guiding force that all your marketing initiatives tie back to.
This does not mean putting your positioning statement verbatim on your brochure or webpage but instead relate to it whenever and wherever you are promoting your brand. This will include everything from the visuals and language you choose right through to where you concentrate your marketing endeavours and how you directly interact with customers in person. By talking directly to the target audience that you have identified in your positioning statement and letting them know how your unique quality is going to make a positive difference in their life, you are setting the stage to have a brand image that will net you the largest return.
Example – Taking on a Burrito Empire and Winning
The right brand positioning strategy combined with strategic marketing that backs it up can catapult a company from the abyss into the forefront of a consumers mind. Chipotle is a great example of how positioning your company correctly will not only improve sales but it could put you in a whole other category, where only the giants reign.
Let’s take a closer look:
In 1993, the first Chipotle opened in a remodeled ice cream shop in Denver, Colorado. This tiny burrito shop now has over 2,500 locations. How did they do it? With kick ass brand positioning.
When Chipotle first appeared, Taco Bell virtually owned all of the fast-food Tex Mex market. In fact most of us probably remember the taco-loving chihuahua that was the star of their marketing campaigns. He was certainly memorable and cute but, Taco Bell’s “Yo queiro Taco Bell” marketing campaign just wasn’t in tune with what consumers wanted. Which left the door wide open for Chipotle whose marketing capitalized on people’s desire for healthier and tastier food in a more trendy restaurant environment. Chipotle positioned themselves as serving food that was higher quality, better tasting and more ethical in its approach to food sustainability.
Let’s take a closer look at how their messaging directly relates back to the positioning.
Chipotle is the only one with effective brand positioning, see more examples here.
2 – Value Proposition
Another key ingredient of your positioning is your value proposition. A value proposition is a statement which identifies the clear, measurable and demonstrable benefits consumers get when buying a particular product or service. It answers the ‘why’ someone should use your product or service over others on the market. If used correctly it will often be the first thing a potential customer will encounter when exploring your brand.
A value proposition should identify:
- The key benefit of your product or service offer and describe why this is valuable in a quick an easily digestible way
- Explain how your product resolves a pain point for your potential customer and answer the question of why a consumer should use your product or service
- Be displayed prominently on your website and on your consumer touch points
What do you do with it?
Unlike your brand positioning statement which is there to guide you and keep you on track with how you are positioning your brand, your value proposition is something you can use word-for-word in your marketing. This statement is the key thing that makes your product attractive to your ideal customer.
- It’s benefit focused
- It solves a problem or improves your life
- It set you apart from the competition
- It should be front and centre on your website and on any sales pages you do
Here are a few examples of great value propositions and how they are showcasing them:
Trello’s benefits are clear. Work together. Get more done. Be Organized.
Duolingo doesn’t need a whole lot of words or even visuals to say it all. This is a great example of how a well-defined value proposition works well on its own.
3- Key Differentiator
A key differentiator is a characteristic of your company that separates you from key competitors and gives you a perceived advantage in the eyes of your target audience. Your company can have many key differentiators but it has to be demonstrated in the marketplace.
A key differentiator must:
- Be true. You have to be able to stand behind it and prove it
- Your customers need to care about it
What do you do with it?
Your company should live and breathe your key differentiator. It is the thing that will turn one-time customers into repeat and loyal fans of your brand. For example, if customer experience is your key differentiator and one of the things that make your different is a hand written note at the end of transaction, then your employees all need to do this, every time without exception. Or if you are a retail store that has a no-question return policy, this needs to be reinforced in every store, no matter what the circumstances are.
Brands that do well in the marketplace understand the importance of differentiating themselves from their competition and that branding goes way beyond pretty visual and a sleek website.
A great example of a company who has set themselves apart from the competition is Airstream. Airstream owners embrace the retro side of life without compromising on luxury or modern amenities, which is something other RV brands just don’t offer.
4 – Your Tagline
A tagline is a short phrase that provides clarity about who you are and the promise you make to your consumer. It should be written in the same tone as how your target audience speaks so that it is relatable and easily understood. It is the most concise way of defining your brand. The best tag lines are simple and memorable while communicating the value or benefit of your business and its strengths.
Taglines should offer a glimpse of your brand perspective and add context so that consumers can quickly interpret your overall marketing message.
Why it’s important?
Your logo or business name cannot sum up what you do. A good tag line gives you a glimpse of the brand’s personality. If written correctly it will set you apart from other companies that provide similar products. As you use your tagline it becomes memorable and will help you foster the importance of your brand.
Burger King’s tagline “Have it your way.” And Bounty’s tag line “The thicker, quicker picker-upper” have become ingrained in our memory and clearly reflect the company’s value proposition.
What do you do with it?
Taglines can be used on any communication with your audience including everything from marketing to invoicing to how you answer the phone. The more you embrace and foster this message the more memorable it will become.
Should your tagline become part of your logo?
Often you will see a tagline attached below a logo. This practice comes with challenges and is not preferable. For example, using text in your logo makes it very difficult to scale your logo to smaller sizes making it not ideal in every application. It adds unneeded elements to your logo which in turn can make it unnecessarily busy and less professional. Your tagline should be a stand-alone element so that you always have the flexibility to amend it and move it to where it makes most sense in your design.
Branding is a Layered Approach
Your positioning statement, value proposition, key differentiator and taglines all work together to form the foundation of your branding. Everything you do from here on out; including your logo, graphically treatments, copy, photography and even your internal culture should relate back to these. Because of how important your positioning is, all elements of it should be painstakingly written and rewritten before they are ready to go. If you are unsure of how to begin, you may want to enlist the use of a professional branding agency to help you craft this. But once you have them and when used consistently and properly you will build a stronger brand that will cut through the clutter and make your business stand-out.