When I work with clients, I hear the same question consistently: “Can you help me with my personal branding?” I tell many of them that I can certainly help with their personal brand strategy and tactics, visual identity and creative services. But after the first consultation, it becomes crystal clear that they actually need help with brand positioning, instead.
Sadly though, as far as novice and DIY marketing goes ─ brand “positioning” is a concept that hasn’t really taken off the way “personal branding” has in recent years. This is really a shame.
While new businesses should define the brand image they want, they need to focus on positioning themselves in the marketplace first.
Brand Positioning Comes First
Identifying your brand position helps you and your customers understand why they need you. It helps you clarify your value and how you are different from competitors. By translating that difference into a customer benefit and delivering on your brand promise, you will be successful in building a positive brand image. Positioning Always Comes Before Branding.
Simply put, brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the minds of your customers or clients. It’s how an organization and the goods and services it provides are perceived in the minds of its target audiences. In other words, what do you offer or do different from all the other businesses that provide the same products or services?
Branding and positioning are two important marketing terms. While they are related to each other, they have very distinct meanings that are important for entrepreneurs to understand. Yes, even entrepreneurs and small businesses need to consider how they wish to be perceived by certain market segments, understand how they are currently being perceived and take the necessary steps to close those gaps.
Stake Your Position
The key to strong positioning is to develop a positioning statement. A good position statement will demonstrate how your company will differentiate from other companies and competitors.
Brand positioning statements are often confused with company taglines or slogans. Positioning statements are for internal use. These statements guide the marketing and operating decisions of your business.
Your company should be able to “own” its position in the market. The positioning statement should clearly answer in one sentence:
- What the service or product does
- What its benefits are and
- Who it’s meant for
There are many places to buy books online, but Amazon is often the first company people think of in regards to buying books on the Internet. In 2001, Amazon positioned itself as “a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices and a comprehensive selection.”
Who’s Your Target?
Who is your audience? Who are the types of businesses, consumers or clients that you want your brand to reach? What are their interests? How do they make decisions? Who or what influences them and why?
What Unique Value do You Create?
What do you think you’re the best in the world at doing? What value does your service or product provide that no one else can provide? What service offering are you most confident in?
Why Should We Believe in You?
How can you back this up? This could mean anything from your process to data statements that show you’re for real. It could even be customer testimonials. Make a list of three reasons to believe.
Once complete, all of your product and marketing decisions should align and support your positioning statement. It should act as a road map for you as an entrepreneur and serve as a guidepost for all of your marketing plans.
The positioning statement shouldn’t be a closed statement. It should allow for future growth, as well as any adjustments or changes that may be made moving forward.
Positioning is not something you do, but rather, it is the result of your customer’s perception of what you do. Turn everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you’ll be successful in building a positive brand image and personal brand.
This post originally appeared on YFS Magazine, a digital magazine for startups, small business news and entrepreneurial culture founded by Erica Nicole.