Five reasons your brand positioning may not be working for you
Positioning is a critical component in the promotion of any venture, from advertising and public relations, to sales and customer relationship management (CRM), even having an impact on the structure and policies of growing companies. Legendary marketing pioneer and author Philip Kotler defines brand positioning as 'the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market'.
In these days of Internet learning, it's easy to read about the role of positioning, see examples of what it looks like and find out how to go about developing your own positioning statement. It's something that's top of mind for all founders, whether they realise that it's positioning or not. Finding a process that works for you can help you crystalise your value proposition and create a clear positioning statement.
Nevertheless, developing strong positioning that differentiates your brand from competitors and aligns exactly with your business strategy, is easier said than done. Our end result in developing brand positioning is defining how we could like our customers to think and feel about our brand, but for this actually to be the case, positioning must work well across every aspect of our brand, marketing and communications.
If your business proposition is not receiving the recognition that it deserves, internally or externally, this could be due to a weak point in your positioning strategy.
Here are five common scenarios.
1. Locked inside the founder's brain!
As a company founder, you are likely to have an intimate understanding of your business, its purpose and the direction that you want to take it in. You live and breath your core proposition and how you position your brand its both intuitive and inspiring. However, as your organisation grows, and less and less people have access to you and other founders, fewer people will be able to communicate your proposition effectively. Unless you can find clear ways to empower your extended team to communicate your brand's positioning on your behalf, your business is likely to suffer.
2. Positioning changes too frequently
Do you feel the need to change how you introduce your company every year or so? Or even every few months? How you've been pitching your business seems to have worked, but now you feel there's something not quite right about your positioning. So, you change the way that you articulate your proposition to something fresh, perhaps more snappy. It could just be that you haven't been through the right process to develop and future-proof your positioning to begin with. You may be good at coming up with creative messages for your brand, but your positioning probably isn't anchored in a logical framework that serves your business.
3. Not strongly mapped to strategy
You may be quite happy with the positioning statements you have and how you're able to introduce your business to new sales prospects, partners and even journalists. However, here's the thing: there are elements of your business that are not represented well by your positioning. Every now and then, there's that awkward moment in your pitch when you have to paper over the cracks. You may even realise that this will have to change, sooner or later. Inconvenient as it is to change, unless you make sure that your positioning is strongly linked to your strategy, it's likely to get in the way of business - perhaps, at a juncture when it's even less convenient for you than today.
4. Lacking differentiation
You're quite proud of your brand positioning, it's well used and sounds quite powerful: as it should, because your business is a leader in its field. The problem is that there are other leaders in that field too. You sometimes hear some prospective customers tell you about other companies that do 'exactly the same thing' as your business. So, although you like the way that your proposition sounds and represents your brand, it may not be helping you differentiate your proposition clearly enough from everyone else's. It seems to do the job when you're the only contender, but doesn't do so well in the face of competition and other market factors. And that could mean that you're losing business as a result.
5. Poorly integrated with communications
You and your team have spent a great deal of time perfecting your positioning statement and what your brand stands for. You're all, quite rightly, proud of it. This said, there do seem to be obstacles to getting your message across and it can be frustrating that some people just don't seem to 'get it'. You might blame your marketing or communications team, your marketing agencies, or even the audiences themselves - and human factors, certainly come into play here. However, the disconnect may also be a result of not providing the right direction, guidelines and content to make your positioning part of your every day communications. A bold statement may look good on the first slide of your company presentation, but to really hold people's attention it must be part of a good story.
The good news is that all of these issues can be fixed. At the end of the day, you know your business best and what matters most to your customers. The challenge is to define, package and communicate your proposition in a way that helps builds recognition and shapes perceptions. Once you identify what sort of problem you have, the solution is much easier to find.