Firstly, what is brand positioning? Brand positioning means defining your brand externally. It means finding out where your brand is in the marketplace, without focusing on a physical location or storefront. This is a place inside your audience’s and competitors’ minds. The goal when creating your brand positioning is to ensure that this space belongs only to you and your audience and competitors know not only that you exist, but also who you are.
Positioning your brand correctly helps you create the benefits you want your audience to think of when they think of your brand. To get there though, they should think of your brand first. The whole idea is not to sell your products or services. The idea here is to make your brand be memorable to a specific audience, not a commodity for everybody to ignore. What this also means is that now is the time to start positioning yourself and talking to people about your brand.
I’m not saying to go out and start selling your offerings. I’m saying to talk to people about your passion and why you want to do what you do. Even without a product on sale or a visible website, you’re starting to plant the seed in those minds you’ve touched that you exist, and your brand is a passion that you love. Remember that enthusiasm is infectious, so don’t hide how much you love what you do.
“When positioning a brand, aggressively avoid becoming a ‘me too’ by assertively being a ‘who else?’” – Crystal Black Davis
FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THEIR MINDS
Now, one very important thing to note here is that you are positioning your brand, not your business. When you are looking for that gap in people’s minds as to where to position your brand, you are not looking for a gap of missing products or services. You can have the exact same product or service as all of your competitors! Don’t struggle trying to find a new product or service, or to create yet another thing to keep in mind when marketing. No, you are looking for the missing feelings. When positioning your brand, you want to look for what desires aren’t being met by your competitors.
WHY YOU SHOULD POSITION YOUR BRAND
There are many benefits in creating your brand positioning but the main one is that it can maximize your brand value. What? Yea, that didn’t mean anything to me either. The first time I heard it, it sounded like a very nice marketing spiel. But the thing is, those benefits and ideas that you want to plant in your audience’s heads? You want to know whose head they’re going in (target audience), you want to make sure that they remember your name and not somebody else’s (competitive advantage), and you want to know how to get it in there (platform distribution).
In order to understand them better, you will want to do extensive research on your audience, competitors, and awareness goals. These three main factors that you want to be conscious of when positioning your brand. Keep in mind that all of the information gathered during this stage of your brand strategy is important in many other aspects of your brand including your content strategy, visual identity, website creation, marketing campaigns, and more.
HOW TO USE YOUR BRAND POSITIONING
Knowing your audience, competitors, and awareness goals will help you in creating your Brand Core and Brand Essence. Your Brand Core consists of your brand’s purpose, values, mission, and vision; this is the heart of your brand and the building blocks to making it unique. Your Brand Essence is your brand’s personality, tone, voice, and language; this is how your brand speaks to the world (also known as brand messaging).
Now, let’s go back to our earlier marketing spiel to maximize your brand value. Building a Brand Core is very hard without knowing your brand’s position. It is like creating a meal based on your own wants for someone with allergies. Building a Brand Essence without it, on the other hand, is similar to going to a black-tie event dressed in your pyjamas; there’s nothing wrong with it, but everyone is going to ignore you and you’ll most likely even be escorted out.
When you put your audience, competitors, and awareness together into effective brand positioning, the value of your brand will maximize! This includes
Finding the right clients for you that are a joy to work with (value!);
Standing out against your competition so your clients find you (value!), and;
Delivering your marketing materials so more potential clients know about you (value!).
Marking spiel or not, maximizing your brand value makes more sense now, no?
Positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the minds of your audience and how it is different from the competition. As such, your brand position is who you are and what you do differently.
HOW LONG DOES THIS TAKE?
Usually, this is the part of a brand strategy that I’ve found takes the most amount of work. Do you remember writing essays back in school? Let’s relate creating a brand to that. First, you have your hypothesis (your brand idea) then you want to research it (your brand positioning) before you can write it. To continue the metaphor into all stages of a brand strategy, writing it would be creating your core, and editing it would be creating the brand essence. As such, exact numbers are hard to gather, but the positioning analysis can take anywhere from two hours to two months or more.
The best brand positioning usually takes a few weeks to complete the initial stage but is never really finished. These few weeks are used to gather all research materials and data from your audience and competitors. The rest of the time is used to gather information as your brand, audience, and competitors evolve over time.
Very rarely do these stay the same from inception until the end. You have to remember to change with your environment in order to remain relevant (yes, this applies for everything because even if your offerings do not ever change, your audience will so you have to figure out how to address them when they change).
Note: keep all frameworks when doing your positioning the first time. It’s always a good idea to do brand assessments on your own brand to see what’s working and what’s not, and you can use these foundation frameworks to see both how your brand is evolving over time.
WHO DOES THE WORK?
The good news is that you can decide if you want to do it all yourself or if you want to hire someone to do it for you. Now, keep in mind, even if you hire someone you will be heavily involved in this process. Personally, I always suggest doing it yourself because you may be able to learn some things about your audience and competitors that you wouldn’t when hiring someone to do your market research.
In addition, the third part of brand positioning is based on the channels and platforms you’ll be using throughout. So, if you are not going to hire someone to be active on those during your brand’s lifespan, it would be a good idea to learn about them yourself.
On the other hand, though, hiring a professional to do this for you may yield faster results. Professional market researchers already have a database of information and have already worked with businesses similar to yours. So, they may be able to find some competitors you don’t know about or some hidden niche in your audience that your brand would be perfect for.
How you go about it is completely up to you, but you want to get to it now!
SO, WHAT NOW?
At this point, you know your brand best. Even so, no offence, you don’t know it that well yet! So, it’s up to you how you want to go about this. The most important thing to keep in mind when doing brand positioning work is that it takes time. The good news is that you should already have an idea on who both your audience and competitors are and where they’re hanging out.
Now that you know why you want to do it, here’s the how:
Discover your target audience. A target audience is a particular group of people that your brand is aimed at. What this means is that you want to know who your audience is in order to resonate with them. You want to target in on the people that will become your clients. This is the first and, I would stress, the most important step, of your brand positioning. It’s hard to sell when you don’t know who you’re selling to.
Complete a market analysis. Market analysis is part of your industry analysis with a focus on your competitors. The purpose of it is to discover your market and who else is in it, from a selling point of view. You can use this analysis to figure out what your ideal client currently has as other options on the market and what is missing (feelings) so that you can position yourself as the more attractive option to them.
Prepare your awareness goals. Awareness goals are when you get deeper into the marketing aspect of creating a brand. The point now is to create goals for your brand instead of focusing on campaigns and strategies. When you start getting into the marketing for your brand, you will want to look back at these awareness goals and turn each of them into a brand awareness campaign for your marketing materials.