When you are trying to grow your business and distinguish yourself from the competition, you need an effective brand positioning strategy. Branding yourself today is very different from even a few years ago. Now you have to think of creating a strong presence on social media and a number of other ways. Let's look at some winning positioning tips.
What is Brand Positioning and Why is it Important?
Think of the most successful brands in the world in any niche, companies that are almost synonymous with their industry. For example, if you ask people to think of a burger place, a high percentage will immediately think of McDonald's. Mention running shoes and Nike probably comes to mind. With soft drinks, it's probably either Coca-Cola or Pepsi. What are some of the characteristics of leading brands?
A brand positioning statement defines what your brand does, who you target, what you stand for, and the benefits you offer, in one short, concise statement. The statement will generally be an internal rallying cry and should be used as a guide to ensure all messaging is consistent.
To begin, you need to understand your own brand. That might sound ridiculous: you understand it better than anyone, right? But a brand is a complex beast, which makes it easy to get off message and for your marketing to become diluted.
Identify Your USP
A USP (unique selling proposition) is the key point that differentiates you from your competition. In some cases, this is an explicit feature, benefit or promise such as cheapest, fastest delivery, or best quality. In other cases, it's less explicit, more like a mood or lifestyle. Think of beer or soft drink TV commercials where no one actually says anything about the product. The focus is on how much fun everyone is having.
There may also be a USP with more than one message. Think of the clever TV commercials for Geico insurance which, on the surface, have nothing to do with insurance. Their explicit USP is to "15 minutes could save you 15%." However, there's also a subtext that their customers are hip and have a good sense of humor.
Have a Distinctive Logo
A logo is a symbol that represents your company. It lets you brand everything from your business cards to your website. The best-known logos, such as the Nike swoosh are very simple. In some cases, such as Coca-Cola and FedEx, the logo is merely a distinctive rendering of the company's name. Apple's logo is simply an apple with a bite taken out. We find that many businesses have big ideas when it comes to their logo design and tend to overcomplicate the mark by trying communicate all that they do within just one logo. However, the idea of simplicity is more powerful, memorable and worth keeping in mind. Always keep it clean, clear and strong in imagery.
Create a Community or Tribe
People who feel affiliated to a community are the most loyal customers. Think of brands that motivate strong brand loyalty, such as Apple, Nike, BMW (and other car brands with enthusiastic customers), Trader Joe's, and others. Think also of sports teams, which have some of the most extreme fans of all. People who patronize these brands don't think of themselves as mere customers but as part of a wider community.
There are various ways to build a community, either online or offline. To engage with customers online, build a Facebook or LinkedIn group or consider creating your own forum or membership site. If your business has a physical location, think of ways to build a community in your area. Participate in local events. Sponsor Little League or other sports teams and 5K races for charity. Create loyalty programs for customers. Keep in mind that, in order to create a sense of community, it's necessary to offer value and encourage interaction. For example, Nike has a very large online community based on its products and apps, but it's also a very social and open-ended forum. You can aim for a similar thing, if on a smaller scale, on your own website or social media pages.
Use a Distinctive Voice
Brand marketing requires consistency in the way you communicate with your audience. This is key! You want to have a similar tone and style across platforms. Keep this in mind from the largest to the smallest details, such as the colors you use on your website and social media pages. Displaying your logo and perhaps slug line on all of your pages helps to reinforce a consistent image. Make sure everyone on your marketing, web design, social media, public relations, and other relevant departments is on the same page. If your website design is conservative and businesslike and your tone is hip and informal, people will detect a mismatch.
Look For Unique Ways to Build Your Brand
Brand positioning takes many forms. The above tips provide some guidelines. However, each business is different and has to develop its own brand building strategy. Consider the vision you have for your business and how to attract the kind of customers that fit with your vision. It also helps to study the brand positioning techniques used by large and popular brands. Don't directly copy others, but consider what makes them so successful and think of what you can learn from them.
Good luck and happy marketing!