Deciding on a brand position is one of the most important steps you’ll take in determining how you will communicate in a very crowded marketplace. A well selected and defined position can help your brand set itself apart from other brands in the category and set the tone for future ownership of a certain consumer frame of mind. The downside is that a poorly defined position is quite difficult to overcome even with extensive, and expensive, re-positioning activities. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Choosing the Right Brand Position
So how do you choose the right position for your brand? While there are no guarantees, there are steps you can take that can, at the very least, force you to scrutinize your motives, assumptions and processes. Following is a group of ten questions that, if followed, can help force you down a path of deciding on a suitable long-term position for your brand.
Question #1: What is the desired position for our brand?
The entire process is going to be pretty fruitless if you can’t answer this question very quickly and easily. Optimally, your desired brand position is well aligned with emerging consumer trends within your industry. It’s nice to be passionate about what you want your brand to be but it’s even nicer if a large number of consumers are passionate about it as well since they’ll be doing the buying.
Question #2: What is our current perceived position among consumers?
If you’re developing a new brand this doesn’t apply but if you’re re-positioning an existing brand you need to know what you’re up against. Do the research and find out what people think of your brand as it is. It may force you to reconsider your desired position but may it may also reinforce it. Find out.
Question #3: Is our desired brand position differentiated enough to carve out a viable market niche?
Answering this question goes a long way in telling you how appealing your new brand position may be and what key competitors you may need to be aware of. The answer may require you to broaden or narrow your desired position.
Question #4: Can we communicate our unique brand position in a way that is understandable and compelling to our consumers?
It doesn’t matter how unique your brand position is if you can’t effectively communicate it. Remember, you live with your brand every day but you’ll need to talk to consumers in advertising sound bites of 15-60 seconds. Your position should be defined in such a way that makes this possible.
Question #5: How is our desired brand position similar to existing brands in the marketplace?
If you’re not the first entrant to the marketplace with your brand position the investment required changes. Be sure you have a solid understanding of which, if any, competing brands have a similar position. This will give you a firm grasp of your competitive set and help deal with our next question.
Question #6: Do we have the resources to overcome those similar brands and establish a strong position?
If the competitive brands identified in Question #5 are large, well-established brands, your cost to overtake them will be significantly higher. If the competition is small, poorly marketed or non-existent, your investment levels can be lower. If you’re going to take on a market leader you better bring a lunch and a very large checkbook.
Question #7: Do we have the resources to gain and maintain the position we aspire to?
This question is similar to question #6 but is more internally focused. For this, you need to answer if you have the internal support and resources to even enter the desired arena. Regardless of the level of competition you must spend money to gain market and media penetration. Levels may vary but there are always minimums below which you have no real chance at succeeding.
Question #8: Do we have the discipline to stay true to our position?
This is a big one and one where many companies fail. Regardless of your positioning, you need to stay true to it. Positioning is a strategic decision and you don’t change your strategy on a whim. This is all about staying focused and doing a few things but doing them better than the competition. We cover this in more detail in our article here.
Question #9: Does our position have long term viability based on things within our control?
It’s always best if you are confident that you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your brand. Choose a position that will enable you to control as many of the factors that affect your brand as possible. Obviously this is much more difficult on low price, commodity based positioning and that’s a very good reason to avoid low price positions.
Question #10: Do we have the required structure and stature within our industry to effectively implement our brand position?
This is really meant to help you think through your go-to-market capabilities. For example, if the brand position you choose appeals to consumers that primarily shop certain channels you must have the ability to service that channel. If you can’t get the distribution they can’t buy your brand and your position will never be relevant.
Measure Twice and Cut Once
This old handyman saying applies really well to the brand positioning process. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money down the road, re-positioning your brand, if you spend a little time and money defining the right position the first time. In a very crowded brand world, a clearly defined and well chosen brand position can go a long way toward grabbing a better Share-of-Mind for your brand.