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Ruminations from open’s internal braintrust

Expertise is organic. It must be constantly nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. This is one of the fundamental pillars of OPEN’s internal culture.

Marvin Chaulk, Vice-President, Senior Consultant
OPEN Communications

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the opinions and musings behind the expertise

Blog Author: Marvin Chaulk

A Simple Test to Check Your Brand Positioning

Marvin Chaulk

Posted: April 15, 2013

At your next management meeting, ask your colleagues to take 10 minutes to individually complete the following positioning statement:

For (target audience), (brand name) is the (frame of reference) that delivers (benefit/point of difference) because only (brand name) is (reason to believe).

The following explains the four elements or components of a positioning statement to help with the exercise:

Target Audience - the attitudinal and demographic description of the core prospect to whom the brand is intended to appeal; the group of customers that most closely represents the brand’s most fervent users.
Frame of Reference - the category in which the brand competes; the context that gives the brand relevance to the customer.
Benefit/Point of Difference - the most compelling and motivating benefit that the brand can own in the hearts and minds of its target audience relative to the competition.
Reason to Believe - the most convincing proof that the brand delivers what it promises.

At first glance, this exercise seems easy and many of your management team will eagerly take on the task. When they start to put pen to paper, however, the simplicity of the task often quickly dissipates and the true challenge of this statement becomes readily apparent. In my experience, completing this sentence is the single hardest task that you will collectively face as a management team.

At the end of the exercise, collect the responses and anonymously read the completed statements. You may be very surprised at the resulting inconsistencies. As marketing leaders, we often develop our market positions and understand its importance to effectively competing in a busy market. But we sometimes forget to spend the necessary focus internally to ensure awareness among our customer facing teams and the impacts of the brand position to their day-to-day jobs.

The crux of a brand is a collection of perceptions formed from a host of interactions with your company. If this is the case, our brands are built from far more than our marketing and promotions. Think of all the client facing interactions your employees have with the customer, from the front reception to sales to delivery to billing to accounts receivable. Think of the impact to your brand if your positioning is not well vetted and understood by your employees. What are the chances your organization is consistently living and delivering on the brand promise? How confused is your customer if they hear your brand is built on fanatical support and your support team is several days returning customer inquiries?

The best brands consistently deliver on their brand promise and they do so by working hard to ensure their organization is ready to support the promise internally. This includes detailed plans, training, frequent internal communications, and check points for quality assurance. This only works if your management team acts as the internal champions for your brand – it needs to be supported from the top. So if the positioning exercise above yields inconsistencies from your management team, you know what you have to do next.

Brand positioning is at the center of a brand development strategy and arguably the most important facet of a company’s success. It is the glue that keeps everything together. It is what sets you apart and the reason people want to do business with you. It sets the tone for how you conduct business. It is the roadmap to guide future direction and growth and the compass for most of your business decisions along the way. And it starts with your own management team and employees.