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By Michaela VoglSep 22
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Published September 29th 2016
People don’t tend to drive somewhere they’ve never been before without first consulting a map. Yet companies often continue down the road they are on without stopping to think where they want to go.
Writing a brand positioning statement will help define the sort of company you aspire to be and give marketing a consistent voice.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the importance of understanding your customers. Uncovering consumer insights gives you a competitive edge by allowing you to meet the needs of your customers, and better communicate that in your marketing.
However, you also 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 for your marketing to become diffuse.
Is your view of the company reflected in the beliefs of the public? Do you really know how your customers think of your brand?
A brand positioning statement explains what your brand does, who you target, and the benefits of your brand, in a short, concise statement. The statement will generally be an internal document, although it should be used as a guide to ensure all content is consistent.
You can simply write your positioning statement in a brainstorming session, although it may be more useful to develop it as part of a wider journey.
Creating a simple statement will still provide value, but a deeper look at the brand and industry will ensure your statement is placed in context.
To create the statement you need to think about where you have come from, where you are now, and where you want to go. Then you just need to work out how to get there!
If you know the history of your industry you gain an understanding of its meaning in consumers’ lives. Every industry has its own history, language, context and imagery that your marketing will be framed by.
Having some historical context helps you understand what consumers think of your industry before you look at what they think of your brand.
What do your customers currently think of you? Listening to your customers can inform here, whether through surveys, anecdotes or social listening.
Social listening provides the scale of quantitative research, but with the added benefit of collecting the voice of the customer. This makes qualitative analysis possible, allowing you to understand the language people use when discussing your brand.
To create a really thorough brand positioning statement you might want to first perform a brand audit to gain a fuller picture of where you are currently positioned in the mind of the consumer.
Your brand positioning statement will help define the direction of the company and its marketing. As such, it is important to know what you are aiming at.
Think about the ideal product or service that could be provided in your category. However far away it feels, having the perfect product in mind can help map your journey towards it.
You need to understand the benefits you can bring to the customer. Evoking an emotional response through these benefits is a powerful marketing tool.
This short Apple video brilliantly explains the tech giant’s approach to design, which begins with an attempt to elicit an emotional response.
The positioning statement is generally used as an internal only document, not a tagline. All the same, it needs to be fairly short to be clear and memorable to staff.
It should only contain four elements.
The category/industry/vertical your brand operates in will often be very obvious, but it can be beneficial to think about this.
Your product may overlap into multiple categories, or your industry might have sub-sections within it. Defining the exact space in which you operate helps focus your direction.
You might have more than one, but focusing on your main target group gives a clearer message. It can be a good idea to work out who your most valuable customers are before deciding on this.
Not the shiny new feature that you are really happy with, but the actual benefit the customer will derive from being a customer of your brand.
A brand might be the most cost effective option available by not having bricks-and-mortar stores. A software company might have the most advanced technology that provides better functionality.
Whatever the reason, there has to be something backing up your claim.
You can then take these elements and fit them into the following brand positioning statement template:
(Brand) is a (1) company that provides (2) with (3) by (4).
For example, Rhino Energy Drink is a canned energy drink company that provides adventurous millennials with the energy they need to live their busy, active lives. It does this with its special formula of high-quality ingredients.
Once you have implemented your statement and have been using it to guide your efforts, you can check that it is having the desired effect of focusing your messaging.
Social intelligence can be particularly useful here, listening to the voice of the customer to understand the language that is being used and the brand associations people have when talking about you.