Steps to follow to define your positioning and brand
There are many articles, posts, books and other sources that explain – both badly and well – what Branding is, such as articulating a brand building process identifying its set of assets, highlighting the elements that enable us to be different and/or unique and managing them in a way which is insightful and sustainable over time.
With this article I intend to summarise – very briefly and concisely – some of the most important steps I feel we need to take in order to conduct a useful analysis on positioning and branding.
What do we need to take into account in order to conduct this exercise?
- Understand our brand, define the attributes that make up our essence and summarise it in a statement that defines our positioning proposal.
Simple? Far from it!
Let’s break down the steps so we can better understand where we need to apply our grey matter.
Firstly, it is advisable that we ask ourselves some preliminary questions:
- Do we know what the attributes are which the category pivots on? Can we avoid them so as to be different? (Be careful – it isn’t always possible!) For example, in the bottled water category there are three: Origin, composition and health.
- Do we have a clear USP (unique selling proposition)? Finding it will help us to establish a differentiated brand positioning.
One thing that must be kept in mind: Positioning always involves ruling some things out. For example, if we are a luxury brand there will be a mainstream segment that we will not reach. And if we do eventually reach it, it will be because we are doing something wrong and we are no longer perceived as Premium.
Once these preliminary questions have been answered, we will carry out an exercise which is indispensable to understand our brand and define your DNA.
Watch out! There is one extremely important point that we must be clear about: The DNA of a brand is like our own DNA. It cannot (and should not) change. Just as our DNA tells us whether or not we will be tall, have fair skin and what our limbs will be like, the same applies to our brand.
Once defined we will not be able to change it!
Let’s start with the most basic and general before moving on to the most specific.
- Identify your SoB (Source of Business). Determine your primary source of business. This will help you set a useful benchmark and better understand the competition. From its positioning proposals, formulation, colour codes, etc.
- Know your Brand asset. For Red Bull, it is very clear that the two bulls confronting each other are its asset and this in turn perfectly explains the energising and psychoactive effects of the drink.
- Describe your Brand Personality. It might be helpful to use the 12 brand archetypes to define which one or ones we think best define the brand. For example, Dove is an earnest brand, which promotes beauty without complexes and pride in our natural appearance. We could categorise it within the normal and/or innocent archetypes.
- What are your Beliefs and Brand Values? Today’s consumer wants to know what the brand believes in, where it wants to go and what its values are. Nowadays, it is not enough to just say it, but we must also do things that prove it. From Storytelling to Storydoing.
- What is our Brand Purpose and how it is synthesised in ourBrand Essence?
From where we focus our brand and what goal we want to achieve. It will greatly help us to summarise our essence. For example, Nike’s slogan or Brand Essence is ‘Just do it’. Their vision is that everyone who has a body is a potential athlete, regardless of age or physical condition, if you are amateur or professional. Their goal is to stimulate our inner ‘athlete’, our challenges, our goals … JUST DO IT, move, run, challenge yourself …
Once we have finished this reflection we need to look at what implications the positioning proposal has with regard to the variables of the marketing mix or the 4 P’s (product, price, place, promotion)
Performing this exercise – outlined in a very schematic fashion – will allow you to understand the brand, the differentiating elements, the springboard on which to construct and place all the building blocks so as to be able to submit a good brief to a design agency. Little Buddha is always a safe bet that will assist you not only with packaging but also strategically. This will help you to embody your positioning and enable you to start winning the 3-second war on the shelves, where an end consumer decides which brand to choose.