How to stand out from the competition with brand positioning
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How to stand out from the competition with brand positioning


How can your business stand out from
competition? And how can you position your brand in the industry? What are the
strategies to do so? Companies should have different offerings and products/services from competitors. A successful method to stand out is
carving out a unique position in the marketplace. Welcome to my sixth digital
marketing lesson and today, we are talking about brand positioning. We
will see what brand positioning means, I’ll show you two types of methodology
and at the end, I’ll explain you the strategies to communicate brand
positioning. A pre-requirement of brand positioning is having a clear and
deep understanding of consumers wants and needs. So, I suggest you to watch my
previous video where I talk about market segmentation. I will put in the description below the link to this video. In fact, your business should
first analyze the market and discover the groups of consumers that can serve
best, then you should build a positioning strategy and place your brand into the
industry in a way that everyone can recognize its specific offering an image.
By the way, what does brand positioning mean? So, it is a designing process that
enables companies to outline their offerings and image, and occupy a
specific and distinctive place in the minds of their target audience. In other
words, we can also say that brand positioning defines consumers’ perception
of a company and its brand. A good brand positioning should be concrete to
reflect the actual and present situation of a business, but also visionary enough
to leave room for growing. So, it should represent the perfect balance between
what the company is and what it can be. Marketing and management of Kotler and
Keller has identified three requirements for successful brand positioning. The
first step is deciding a frame of reference by determining the target
audience and relevant competitors. Then, given a frame of
reference, identifying similarities and differences with other brands. The third
step is making a compelling motto to enclose the brand essence. And don’t
worry if you don’t understand these points now, I will explain them later. You
can eventually use the table of contents in the description of the video to
navigate it and reach the section that you are interested in. So, what I’ve just
explained you is one first type of brand positioning and it is more analytical it
requires a deep understanding of your target audience, but there are also other
alternatives and one is a brand positioning based on narrative or
storytelling. This approach doesn’t really require an in-depth analysis of
consumer competition and your company. But, in my opinion, it doesn’t suit every
business and now we are going to see why. In May 2009, Businessweek issued Selling by storytelling by Ronald Grover who said that brand positioning is a
result of a nailed storytelling rather than an outline of specific attributes
and benefits. Instead, in A breakthrough approach to brand creation,
Randall Ringer, CEO and founder of Verse Group, now part of MBLM, and
Michael Thibodeau or “Thibodu”, I don’t know how to pronounce it, a brand
strategist and creative director, have discovered five key aspects of brand
storytelling. So, they basically say that one first pillar is represented by words
and metaphors which wave detail. The second is how consumer interacts with
the brand over time. How the brand represents people objects and places, and
its language. The bond between brand and sensorial experience: brand engagement
level with people’s heart. So, basically how the story interacts with
consumers’ feelings. Finally, the last point is represented by the role played
by the brand in consumers’ life. Basing on these five
factors, these two gentlemen developed also the Narrative branding
framework which is made by the Setting: time, place and context. The cast: the
brand becomes a character with its own history, the creation myth, and
relationship with or responsibility towards the audience. Then, there is the
narrative arc: how events unfold in the story. And the language: the brand’s
authentic voice, its symbols, metaphors and leitmotifs. In this video, I will
not deep further this brand positioning approach, because I’m a digital marketer
and I don’t feel being the best person to analyze and explain you narrative,
storytelling, language use, above all, because narrative branding requires a
deep knowledge of the language and the culture of the target audience. So, once
you have understood the guidelines that I’ve already explained, I think that it
changes according to the specific population that you are targeting. So now,
let’s dive into the analytic brand positioning approach. The first step to
craft brand positioning is identifying a competitive frame of reference. Defining
a competitive frame of reference means that you select the rivals to compete
with. For example, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint spent billions of dollars to build their
network, but over time, the development of Wi-Fi and hotspots allowed Skype to
break through. And they actually didn’t expect it. Once you have selected the
rivals with which you want to compete, you should analyze the perception of
their strengths and weaknesses. One of the easiest method to do so is
interviewing their customers. This image represents an example of a poll where
clients expressed their preferences on three competitors. If we analyze this
positioning table, you clearly understand that your company can attack Competitor
A on product availability and technical assistance. Competitor C on
almost everything, but you shouldn’t engage Competitor B which has no main
weaknesses. In your industry, competitors are usually more than what you think.
For example, Coca-Cola was so focused on its soft drink products that missed the
growing market of coffee and fresh fruit juice bars which negatively affected its
business. In 2000, the textbook E-commerce by Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski
suggested to profile direct and indirect rivals by mapping buyer’s steps in
obtaining and using a product or a service. Once you have identified, selected
and analyzed your primary competitors, you should also try to think of their
strategies and objectives. What is each competitor seeking in the marketplace?
What drives its behavior? To help you doing this analysis, you can get from the
link in the description below, my digital marketing template to rate competitors
online success key factors. So, just go on my landing page, submit your
information and then, you will be able to make a copy on Google Sheets. And
don’t worry! All the instructions are inside. Now, it’s time to identify the
differences from rivals. Every company should determine its points of difference
or PODs which are unique characteristics that consumers recognize
only in that company. And there are three criteria to make strong and positive
associations. The first one is based on the desirability. The brand
associations must be personally relevant to consumers. They have to believe in the
brand’s promise or, in other words, in the delivery of the desired benefit. The
second criterion for better associations is deliverable by the company which
means organizations must have the necessary internal capabilities to
maintain the brand associations in consumers’ minds over time.
These points of difference must be highlighted by product or service design
and marketing offering. For example, does the product or service deliver the right
message or it needs real changes? If the product or service is fine, should
consumers receive a different message to align their perception with the brand’s
points of difference? The final criterion is differentiating
from competitors. Consumers must associate the brand with unique and
greater characteristics compared to its rivals. Now that we have identified the
PODs, it’s time for the POPs, the points of party or, in other words, the
similarities with other competitors. They are attributes that a company has in
common with its rivals and this point is very important, because you don’t need
only having differentiating points or attributes, but you also need to have
shared associations or characteristics with the competition or the industry. So,
the brand must have similarities with the product or service category in order
to be perceived as credible and legitimate, for example to recognize a
travel agency as such, you need to see that they are able to book flights and
hotels, give leisure advice and providing different tickets pricing options. A
business should have also points of parity with its competition for two
important reasons. Every similarity invalidates a competitor’s point of
difference. You understand? Because if you have a characteristic in common, it’s
not a differentiating point anymore! The second is a shared association negates a
perceived vulnerability of the brand. And it happens when consumers focus on a
strong differentiating characteristic and think that if the business is good
at one thing, it is not good in anything else. So, a good strategy to master
similarities is to put competitors shoes, catch their points of difference
and, eventually, emulate them. Points of parity and points of difference are many
and marketers can’t work with them all at once. So, they have to select them to
position the brand. One tool to support them in this activity is the brand
positioning map. Brand positioning maps visualize consumers’ perceptions and
preferences. They represent a specific market situation and describe how people
see a product or service according to different parameters- This is an example
of perceptual map or brand positioning map, you can call it in both way, it
visualizes a clothing brand according to consumers’ perception of
design and price. So, to make this representation I picked two dimensions:
price, so the more a brand is placed in the right side of the X axis, the more
expensive it is. The second dimension is design trend, so the more a brand is
placed in the upper part of the Y axis, the more its design is traditional.
Accordingly, the more it’s located in the lower side of the Y axis, the more its style
is trendy and juvenile. You can try to make a brand positioning map by yourself
using relevant dimensions for your business! Another critical element to
position a brand is its brand mantra. It should be a short phrase, three to five
words long, that captures the essence and spirit of a brand. Scott Bedbury, an
American branding consultant, in A new brand world said: brand mantra is an
articulation of the heart and soul of the brand, and is closely related to
other branding concepts like “brand essence” and “core brand promise”. Brand
mantra is very useful for employees and partners to adjust their communication
and match it with the company’s brand positioning. So, it is very different from
the slogan or brand payoff, because it aims at the inner part of an
organization. In the blog article related to this video, I inserted some examples
to clarify this concept. So, I suggest you to read it. I put its link in the description below. So well, how can you design a brand
mantra? According to Kotler and Keller, a good
brand mantra should condense the operating business and unique value
proposition. It should be short: memorable mantras are fresh and lively
in meaning. Marketers usually design mantras with the differentiating
characteristics that make the business unique. Now, that we have this great
lookout of brand positioning, it’s time to understand how to communicate it.
Communicating brand positioning means letting consumers know the industry
where a company competes, its points of parity and difference. One way to do so, is
reassuring the consumers on the benefits expected after using a product or
service. They can be benefits based on the performance, for example: the great
taste of a cookie and its high-quality ingredients. Or they can be benefits or
results based on imagery, for example: the delighted image of consumers while
they’re eating these cookies. This scheme can help marketers visualize their brand
during this process. And if you look at the image, a brand can offer more or less
benefits compared to the competition, and it can even decide to provide more
benefits for a lower price! So, the ball’s on you, marketers: to pick the strategy which
best fits your company. Another communication technique is accosting
your brand to industry leaders. For example, Tommy Hilfiger advertised
itself as a member of a US designers elite by associating its brand with more
popular and well-established ones, like Geoffrey Beene, Stanley Blacker, Calvin
Klein and Perry Ellis. It exploited their brand reputation to grow and carve a
place among them. The third popular method to communicate a brand
positioning is relying on the product descriptor. Zorraquino’s branding
dictionary defines a product descriptor as a functional brand name
that automatically enables the main quality or application of a product or
service to be identified. Tends to be useful in lesser-known markets where the
public, searching for brands, will first encounter those with a generic
denomination. And I couldn’t explain it better! Marketers can rely on the product
descriptor to let consumers understand the positioning at a glance. In 2004, Ford
invested more than 1 billion dollars to make a car which combines
characteristics of an SUV and a station wagon.
This model went down in history as the Freestyle and Ford communicated its
unique position establishing a new category called “sports wagon”. Brand
positioning hides many challenges for marketers, because they will inevitably
face the difficulty to communicate the points of parity and difference. For
example, if you try to communicate the high qualities of a product or service
and then, you also state that it is inexpensive, you create a disruption in
consumers’ minds. Or long lived brands can exploit the myth of their history or
creation, but it may trigger a backlash: consumers can perceive them as
old-fashioned or not up-to-date. As you can see from this table, attributes and
benefits have often negative and positive associations. A possible
strategy to overcome these continued trade-offs is addressing consumers with
distinct marketing campaigns and reveal points of parity and points of
difference one by one. In my professional experience, the most common mistakes in
brand positioning are: under positioning, when a brand is not able to understand
consumers’ perception and doesn’t unleash its full potential; over positioning, a
brand’s position doesn’t match the value attributed by consumers; confused
positioning, when people don’t understand the brand’s message or communication and
can’t confer it a value; and impossible positioning. The best way to explain this
point is with an example. Let’s say that McDonald’s wants suddenly change its positioning and be perceived as a
healthy and high-quality bistro. There is no way it’s gonna happen! This is an
impossible brand positioning. Well, we have reached the end of this lesson and
now, I have a deal for you! Use the comments below to describe in a few
words your brand positioning and be sure to insert the link to your website. I
will tell you if your online communication and message match your
brand positioning. Thank you for watching, every week I come up with a digital
marketing lesson, so be sure to subscribe to this channel and activate the
notifications. Like this video and see you soon!

About Ralph Robinson

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