You can't put lipstick on a pig.
We like to use funny sayings down here in the south. Lipstick on a pig means: its a waste of time to make superficial changes in order to disguise a product's true nature. Common sense to be sure, but it's lost on so many companies when it comes to brand positioning.
Most companies haven’t even heard of brand positioning, or if they have they don’t really understand what it is. That’s because marketers throw around all these terms and don’t realize they aren’t speaking English.
Did anyone see Mr. Popper’s Penguins? I suspect Pippi, the girl that could only speak in P’s, was secretly a marketer. She might say something like:
“Positioning prescribes product, price, promotion, people, priorities, and place into pervasive policy.”
No wonder people hate marketers, we have a stuttering problem.
Here is a simple breakdown of branding components:
A Brand: The feeling people have about your company, your product, or your services. The foundation of a brand is TRUST.
Branding: Branding is a company's effort to build lasting value by delighting customers. It connects your brand with your brand position and creative elements. It executes them consistently, time and time again. Branding takes a commodity and gives it the competitive advantage.
Brand Positioning: Brand Positioning is how you deliver your brand message to the marketplace. You can position yourself as the cheapest, the smartest, the fastest, the highest quality, the safest, etc. Positioning is all about placement: getting that position (or place) in your ideal customers mind. The importance of knowing the marketplace, understanding your customers, breaking through the clutter and differentiating is how you position your brand and get it stuck in the client's mind.
Brand positioning was first defined as “the space you take in the customer’s mind” (Believe me, you’re not going to get much). The real estate in your customer’s mind is an emotional space; brand positioning guides the emotion.
Maya Angelou said it best when she said: “I've learned that people will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
A brand position is NOT:
- “Loud, Tacky, and Proud”
- “Buy One Get One Free”
- Your logo, website, social media, flyers, ads, etc.
Before you start getting into creative design and marketing channels, you have to nail down brand position first. It’s one of those “simple to learn, lifetime to master” things. Depending on how far along in business you are, you may or may not need to hire a professional to help you.
What’s in your Head?
Since the definition of brand positioning is about getting inside your customers head, you first have to understand your customer. This is done by creating a buyer persona.
Buyer persona is more technical jargon that can easily turn people into robots. We are not trying to get robots to buy from us. They don’t pay well from what I understand.
Buyer Personas: Your ideal customers background, demographics, buzzwords, goals, challenges, how you help with those challenges, quotes and objections they’ve said to you, and your marketing message and elevator pitch as you have explained it to them (inhale) into one tasty little package that you can use for all of your marketing until the end of time.
Buyer Personas are fictional characters that personify your target market, kind of like a voodoo doll (kidding). Creating a buyer persona is like writing a story about your favorite customers. It’s the secret psychology that makes any brand and marketing campaign successful.
To learn how to put together buyer personas check out our blog: Demographics-Geographics-Psychographics-help-build-buyer-personas.
The cool thing about buyer personas is they go much further than just branding and marketing. They can be used internally for everyone at your company to use, from customer service to billing to management, to ensure everyone at your company truly understands the customer.
Feel the Love
After you have your customers defined with buyer personas, you’ll have more information as to what type of emotional response you want to inspire from them when they interact with your brand. A good way to do this is to create a brand positioning statement, and then boil it down into an emotional cord.
Brand Positioning Statements: state the primary feature and benefit of who you are and what you do for your buyer personas, and most importantly what makes you different from your competitors.
It uses four elements:
- Buyer Persona/Target Market
- Product or Service/Frame of Reference
- How you’re different/Differentiation
It can be formatted like this: To (buyer persona), (Brand) is the (product/service) that (differentiator) because (justification).
FedEx: "To deadline-oriented business people, Federal Express is the overnight package delivery service that is the most reliable because of its sophisticated package tracking system."
Volvo: "For educated American families, Volvo is the upscale family automobile that offers maximum safety.”
Once you have your brand positioning statement put together, you can boil it down into a simple phrase you would like your brand positioning statement to convey. This is the emotional cord that ties. This is what gets people to buy your stuff
FedEx = Reliable Overnight Delivery.
Volvo = Maximum Safety.
Once you have your brand positioning statement in place, check it against those stuttering 4P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.
Product: Be sure your product can back up the promise in your statement.
Price: If your position has anything to do with price, will you always be able to deliver on it? In today’s economic flux, that is not usually possible.
Promotion: Everywhere your brand is being promoted, all the components of your brand positioning statement should be shown, in a clear concise way that hits the emotional cord.
Place: Wherever you sell your services, your brand positioning needs to be clear from first contact to checkout.
Once your brand positioning is in place, you can start doing all those fun marketing activities, such as:
- Create a cool logo that represents your emotional cord.
- Choose some colors and typography that resonate with your audience.
- Redesign your website in your buyer persona’s best interest.
- Start creating interesting, engaging content.
- Get a thoughtful, strategic inbound marketing program going.
Execute your refined brand position with great marketing strategies using tips from our eBook: Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace.
You'll get a worksheet to develop your brand, visuals to help you pinpoint any marketing gaps, a game to test your branding knowledge, and more!
About the Author
Kasie Hilburn is an Inbound Sales and Marketing Consultant. She has helped people from all walks of life in practically every industry move their business where they want it go with sales and marketing for the past 10 years. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.