Updated: Apr 28, 2021
Welcome to #4 in the branding series, "It's time to take stock and rethink your brand."
Image this scenario. You're thirsty...
You grab a drink at the grocery store. Looking at the wall of choices, you’re overwhelmed; energy drinks, kombuchas, sparkling water, diet soda, vitamin water, alcohol-infused drinks—so many categories and so many brands. Yet, you make a choice.
How? It may be taste, packaging, category, health, emotions, a fun drink; it's cool, a "good-guys" brand, etc.
"Behind the curtain" of each brand stands a planned effort to attract YOU and stand out from the crowd. The results vary depending on the quality of their product and brand, the level of branding strategy, and brand management.
Here are 10 steps you can take to STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
Clarify Who You Are and What Drives You
Take a Stand for Something
Be Clear on the Value You Provide
Understand Your Customer's Pains, Needs, and Wants
Segment Your Customers and Target Groups
Analyze Your Competition
Do Your Positioning Work
Develop Your Internal Positioning Statement
Create Your Collection of Brand Statements & Messages
Introduce Your New Position to The Market
Here are more details to help you get and stay competitive.
1. Clarify Who You Are and What Drives You
Understanding and distilling the foundation of your brand identity allows you to distinguish yourself from your competition. It leverages those truths and assets and keeps your mission, vision, and values at the heart of your strategy, and becomes your GPS.
Rediscover what drives you or your leadership: Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Values.
Do an internal audit and assessment of your brand and how you manage it.
Get objectivity on your brand from employees, your close circle of associates, and your trusted clients.
We are forced to see things differently by putting a spotlight on vulnerabilities that were earlier hidden or just ignored. A client shared:
"If it weren't for COVID, I would not have let an employee go.
Teamwork and camaraderie are just too important now,
and the employee did not care to work collaboratively ."
2. Take a Stand for Something
People are attracted to brands that go beyond products and services. It makes them feel good and that they are making a difference with their purchase.
More and more brands are authentically taking a stand on issues and causes, choosing to have an impact and give back to their local and worldwide communities. Consider:
TOMS mission is to give a pair of shoes to children in need in over 70 countries with every pair sold.
Plant-based drink company, Rebbl has dedicated itself to sustainable labor and farming practices across the world. It donates 2.5% of its net sales to the anti-trafficking organization Not For Sale. The brand also uses sustainable practices in transportation, packaging, and agriculture to live out its brand promise.
Watch my video talking about B-Corps with CEO Helen Russell of Equator Coffees and how they positively impact their communities around the world.
Aside from making the world a better place, creating a positive impact has other benefits:
People tend to buy more, especially millennials. Accenture Research shares:
"Nearly two-thirds (63%) of surveyed global consumers
prefer to purchase products and services from
companies that stand for a purpose
that reflects their values and beliefs and will avoid
companies that don't.
Fosters long-term loyalty
Breeds a positive and cohesive company culture
Attracts quality employees and increases longevity on the job
Caution: customers see through "Causewashing" eventually. It is important to remain true to your purpose and mission and be authentic in your approach to making a difference with your business.
3. Be Clear On the Value You Provide
Confirm or discover your gifts, your purpose, your vision, the benefits and value you provide. This is critical in attracting and keeping customers. Here are some ways to improve that value:
Go out of your way to listen to your customers and their feedback.
Do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities and Threats)
Start with your company's core competencies.
Are your products and services relevant to your target? Are they to-date? Look at trends in your industry..
Are you better, faster, more complete, cheaper, or more innovative than the competition?
Have you considered your customer's journey in their experiences with you?
Do you make the time your customer spends with you valuable?
Is your viewpoint aligned with reality? Who are we? Who do we say we are? What do others say we are?
4. Understand Your Customer's Pains, Needs and Wants
Make your assumptions, then validate or discard them. Your customer is the heart and soul of your business, and without them, you don't have a business. Understanding your ideal client goes beyond just knowing their favorite products and features based on sales. It's getting inside their hearts and minds and knowing who they are and what motivates them.
Making it your business to better understand your target. And that makes the difference in your business in developing long-term customer relationships and brand fans. Learn all you can by researching their problems, wants, and needs. (See segmentation categories.).
Pose questions to your social media groups, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Quora.
Competitive research: Look at what your competition is saying and revealing about your target.
Get insights by looking at popular topics, for example, Google Trends, Buzzsumo, and Buzzfeed.
Develop different ad and marketing copy; test and review the results.
Use tracking software to develop new insights.
Ask for testimonials and reviews.
Test products and new product features.
Research the internet.
Buy a study or research.
Hire a research company to manage it for you.
5. Segment Your Customers and Target Groups
Segment your present and future customers into "like-minded" groups. Align each group in a way you can best deliver targeted and relevant messages and products.
Segmentation also stimulates innovation and allows for testing to determine your profitability target sweet spot. You can segment based on:
Demographics: age, gender, role, income, race, geography, and other population characteristics.
Geographics: for geo-based efforts. Location can also impact target, trends, values, and beliefs.
Psychographics: their attitudes, personalities, problems, their mindset around their problem: wants and needs.
Behaviors: purchasing considerations and buying patterns.
Generations: Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation.
6. Analyze Your Competition
A competitive analysis will help you better understand the competitive landscape and clarify where you are now and how to beat your competition. Selecting the correct competitors will help you avoid major branding pitfalls,
Review direct competitors that solve similar problems for your target customers with similar products and features; consider and future competitors for new products and markets.
Evaluate your top 3-4 competitors using the parameters below. Then evaluate yourself.
Products & Services
Key messages: taglines, headlines
Promises they make to their customers: results, guarantees, etc.
Weaknesses and Strengths
What do they offer or do that makes them different?
Priced: premium, moderate, or value?
Position in the market: "leader, me-too, outlier," etc.
7. Do Your Positioning Work
Positioning is the process of strategically identifying its most competitive position and then doing what it takes to own that position within the consumer's mind and heart.
"The most difficult part of positioning is selecting
that one specific concept to hang your hat on.
Yet you must, if you want to
cut through the prospect's
wall of indifference."
- Al Ries, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
Review the industry, your target audience universe, and your competitive set
Ensure you have an understating of customer needs, perceptions, brand recognition, innovation, price, and quality
Define the positioning for the company first, then develop one for each of the critical customer segments
See an example of a positioning exercise using a Positioning Map for the UK Sports Car Market
7. Develop Your Internal Positioning Statement
The positioning statement is derived from review positioning work. It focuses on emotional features and benefits that meaningfully set a brand apart from the competition. It is the most critical statement of all your marketing messages and fundamental to your marketing and advertising statements, strategies, and programs.
Positioning Statements have 5 components. See Nike's:
To 25+ year-old male basketball players
Nike is the brand of basketball footwear
(Your brand) (Your niche)
That provides the "ADVANTAGE" of lightweight,
breathable strength and innovation defined.
(Your point of difference):
So that you'll have more confidence in your abilities and status
which allows you to feel better about yourself.
(Your ultimate emotional benefit)
9. Create a Collection of Brand Statements & Messages
Your messages should be based on your internal and external reviews and your positioning work. Using your positioning as a guide will help you create and manage consistent messages.
These strategic messages will help your customer understand who you are, what you offer, how you are different, why that matters to them, and why they would want a connection with you. They provide an opportunity to highlight your point of difference.
Finely crafted emotionally-packed, engaging, and targeted messages can help change minds and decisions.
Having on-the-shelf strategically-crafted messages ensure you deliver the strongest and most compelling messages that are focused, consistent, and not only effective but efficient. Packaged brand messages demonstrate professionalism, breeds consumer trust, and provides you with another level of confidence in your brand.
Don't let the brand "language" confuse you*. One company's "purpose" may be another company's "mission" or "mantra." What someone calls an elevator pitch may be someone else's brand statement, etc. Call the various statements whatever you want; however, consider developing the following consistent brand messages, each serving a different purpose:
Positioning Statement (for INTERNAL use only) and as the basis for your Brand Statement
Personal Leadership Purpose: what personally drives leadership, or if you are a solopreneur— you
Vision: future aspirations of how you want to change the world
Mission: what and how you do it to accomplish that vision
Values: top values that you hold dear throughout the organization
Your Story: your Ah-Ha moment, evolving idea, or what drives you
Brand Statement: highlights your niche, the problem you solve, and how you do it differently from your competition. It is your most important message.
USP (Unique Selling Proposition): the single differentiating benefit
Tagline: lives with the logo/name and explains the brand
Elevator Pitch: the Brand Statement Personalized and the answer to "what do you do?"
Key Copy Points: benefit statements, milestones, proof, etc.
The About Us-Short: for directories and press releases
The About Us-Long: for the website. (Can includes vision purpose, mission, values, and the story.)
Customers who view your website's "About Us" page...
are 5x more likely to make a
purchase."-The Blue Acorn, Digital Agency
The Brand Promise: the customer expectation that you can always deliver
*Note: The Brand Statement, the most comprehensive statement of all, It includes the Value proposition (VP)— Value proposition statement—Value prop—The customer value proposition—Brand value proposition—Brand proposition—Proposition of value—Business value proposition—Sales value proposition—Product value proposition—Value positioning—Value statement) Read more on branding statements in an upcoming post.
10. Introduce Your New Position and Brand to the Market
Put your stake in the ground and own your new market position and share in a way internally and externally that will make people want to embrace it.
Confirm your brand leadership and management.
Make your brand launch part of your brand and marketing plans.
Launch your brand internally first, and align the entire organization. Get everyone on board and tell the brand story. Make the new brand part of the culture. Help employees embrace the new brand essence and messages, and support them in delivering it.
Plan a special introduction to your customers.
Make your launch an exciting event and get all the mileage you can with a press release, a party, blogs, quizzes, games, an email campaign, videos, apps, a brand book, and promotional items.
Ensure you have considered all your touchpoints from website, content, media, signage, voicemail, uniforms to tradeshows, etc.
Have a timeline and prioritize your efforts.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step
to Stand Out From the Crowd?
For questions, go to BrandsThatDeliver.com
Look for Laurie’s Next Article in the Series:
Blogs published to-date
#5 What is the message you want your brand to deliver?
#6 Have you been keeping your “brand promise?”
#7 Are your employees brand-aligned, and do they deliver your brand promise?
#8 Do you have an updated brand strategy?
Sign-up here for the upcoming series this month for brand and marketing tips and receive your Free 25-page e-book, “The Top 10 Branding Mistakes to Avoid.”
Brands That Deliver™ and Laurie Pillings Rinker:
As principal of BrandsThatDeliver, Laurie works with large to small clients who want to get focused and transform their sales through brand-driven marketing.
We help companies define their brand, engage customers, and deliver on their promises to develop marketing programs while encouraging social good.