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establish a brand position

Why Your Company Needs To Establish A Brand Position Now

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Please find it here.

When asked, leaders of most organizations can tell you what their company offers, including the services they provide or the products they sell. When you ask questions that dig deeper, however, the answers get a little less clear. I’ve noticed that more often than not, stakeholders from across the organization have slightly different perspectives of what the company stands for and what it values. Ask a cross-functional group of team members from marketing, sales, product, finance and research and development to define the brand position, and you are likely to get extremely varied responses. Take this further, to an external group of customers, industry experts and prospects, and the answers may be even more varied.

Defining And Owning Your Brand Position

Your company’s brand position should be the space that you want to own in your customer’s mind in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Once determined, the brand position acts as a guide to inspire and direct all brand communications and messaging, both internal and external. It is important to remember that if you don’t determine your position, someone else will do it for you: your customers, the industry or worst of all, your competitors — and you may not like it.

An established brand position helps an organization develop a set of guiding principles for how it operates, how it is perceived externally and how internal team members carry out their services and activities.

Defining your brand position takes a bit of work and more than a bit of reflection. Begin by asking yourself and your team these questions:

• What does our company stand for?

• What product or service do we offer that no one else does?

• What values do our employees embody?

• What are the commonly held beliefs and commitments in our organization?

Brand Consistency Is Key

Marketing communications is essentially the cross-functional glue of the customer experience. Your customers see only one company, not several departments, so all activities and messaging across the organization must work in unison. Ensure that your design, voice and message are all consistent, across all mediums, including social media platforms, your company’s website and brand collateral. Every interaction with your brand, whether visually, in words or in action, are all cues about your brand position — and all must be consistent.

A gap often exists between what an organization wants to project to the market and how it is perceived. Customers, for example, may have a different view of your organization than what you think (or want). Defining and understanding this gap helps businesses determine the job to be done from a marketing and communications perspective, and begin the journey of building the road map and overall marketing plan.

The Road Map To Building A Brand Strategy

The first step in building a successful brand strategy is having a deep understanding of your business, your customers and your story. This starts with research, analysis and discovery, followed by the development and design of your brand personality, values, goals and objectives. Once these phases are complete, you are able to develop your brand statement and identity, determine your communications strategy, and establish your key messaging, as well as build in metrics and analysis to ensure that you keep moving in the right direction.

Knowing your audience and what is important to them are critical aspects of building your brand messaging. Establishing an overview of the target groups and/or verticals that you are attempting to engage is key. What matters to them? What motivates them? What needs do they have that you can potentially fulfill?

In a world of choices, most customers know what they want or need, and most organizations know what it is they can offer. The basics of product features, key selling points and unique value propositions are important to define upfront, and they are generally the easiest points to agree upon. The harder work revolves around the why. It is here that you need to think about not only what you do, but why you do it. The why speaks to your purpose, the reason that your company exists. All of your actions thereafter act as proof points toward reinforcing these beliefs.

Keep these key principles in mind to guide your brand positioning journey:

• Determine your competitive advantage.

• Stake your claim in terms of what place you own in the market.

• Remember that you can’t be all things to all people.

• Know what your audience needs, and satisfy those needs.

• Decide your unique position and communicate it consistently.

Making The Brand Promise

Brand positioning is not just what the brand is, but what you want the brand to become. Communicate your positioning to your target customers with a compelling and meaningful brand promise that you can confidently deliver.

This branding statement should be distinctive in the marketplace, relevant to your target audience, credible, consistent with the company history, realistic and executable. The brand promise should be paired with an effective “reason to believe,” or evidence that shows that your brand will fulfill its promise. Above all, never communicate a brand promise that you can’t deliver.

Putting It Together

2020 will probably go down in history as a year that ended vastly different than anyone could have accurately predicted when the year began. Awareness, engagement and conversion remain some of the most common brand objectives, yet how these goals are accomplished needs to be reconsidered through the lens of the global environment. As the world has changed drastically this year, companies have been forced to rethink their marketing plans and their messaging.

Having an established brand position means that although your tactics may change, what your company stands for will not. All of the choices you make, if you stay true to your strategic position, will be received as authentic rather than opportunistic. Defining your brand position is more important now than ever. Why not begin now?

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