The Marketers’ Toolbox – Brand Positioning
Posted by Tim Kaner on November 1, 2011
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This is next in a series of posts which will discuss the question of the tools every good marketer should have in their tool box. Last time Segmentation, today the topic of brand positioning.
Unlike in previous posts there is no widely used standard model to describe brand positioning so rather than trying to convince you of the advantages of an onion over a pyramid, a key over a wheel or an eye over a temple, I’ll simply focus on what these various models tend to have, and perhaps should have, in common.
Whatever visual metaphor you decide to use, they all claim to have a similar goal – to articulate what your brand is all about clearly and succinctly. In their book ‘positioning’, Al Ries and Jack Trout offer the following definition:-
“To succeed in an over-communicated society, a company must create a position in the prospect’s mind, a position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well”
The models also tend to have the same components. Below is a list from various brand positioning models with suggestions of the questions which lie behind
- Competitive context/frame of reference/what market are we really in/what need are we meeting?
- Enemy/what is our primary source of business? Who or what are we going to take share from?
- Target audience/ what sort of customer do we imagine most wanting what we have to offer and in what situation?
- Core communication target/who do we want to engage with ?
- Insight/what underlying truth have we uncovered which makes what we have to offer relevant and motivating?
- Brand proposition/what do we have to offer, what’s the story we want to tell about our brand
- Brand discriminator/what makes us different
- Benefit/what’s in it for the customer? What does our brand do ? How does it make the customer feel?
- Reasons to believe/support/why should the customer believe us? What’s our proof?
- Brand roots/origins/source of authority/what else do we have to make us credible?
- Brand values/beliefs/character/personality/what do we stand for? How do we want to be described?
All the commonly used models tend to work in the same way
- Prioritise a (single) key target group
- Identify a (killer) insight into them
- Develop a single-minded proposition
As The Value Engineers is a strategic brand consultancy, we must declare an interest in this topic.
Our perspective on most of these models is that they blur the distinction between a brand’s longer-term essence and enduring purpose and the need for potentially multiple shorter term propositions.
We have therefore developed our own framework.
When it comes to defining the core of your brand positioning, we’d recommend three must haves.
The brand’s long term-desired purpose, its right to exist
The principles and beliefs that dictate how the brand behaves
The style and tone with which the brand expresses itself and shapes how it behaves.
Answering the questions and completing the remaining components in the more traditional model is more about defining your go-to-market proposition.
In the end, these tools are part of the process of getting to clarity and if you can align your team and your organisation around the simple framework above you will have a strong platform from which to compete for share of mind.
In brand positioning , less can (definitely) be more