by Kelly Hobkirk
If you work at a large company with strong brands or a startup with no brand, to create a successful brand, you have to be capable of being a champion. To do that, you need smart brand positioning.
What if you have a great idea, but no authority on the topic? You must go get informed in a manner that helps you embody the most informed person in your brand’s area. There are no two ways about this, no shortcuts. You need the credentials and experience. If you can’t get those, you will need endorsements of those in authority. In order to get their attention, you will need some credibility of your own. If you’re doubting this, think about when you were a kid, when a classmate made some outrageous claim. What was our unfailing reply? Prove it.
Positioning Dilemma 1
Say you want to position yourself as an expert in women’s nutrition championing a new brand of foods aimed squarely at women. Sure, it’s a noble and worthy cause, but you lack relevant experience. Guess what happens when you start raising awareness? You will have potential opposition from doctors, dietitians, nutrition counselors, and anyone else with a strong opinion.
Granted, your experience may be unique and valuable, but will it be enough for you to speak with authority to the needs of your market? It might be, particularly if your unique experience relates directly to what you want to do. At some critical point, however, you will be asked to prove it.
Positioning Dilemma 2
Let’s think about it another way. Imagine you want to model for running shoe manufacturers. They want top runners, and fit average joes. And let’s say that you, in fact, are not fit and are not even a runner.
What would you be then? You would be a poser and an outsider, the antithesis of the proof people need to see in order to believe. You would lack the credibility needed to get any manufacturer’s attention, much less their ad agency, and you wouldn’t be able to relate to the market. In order to reach your goal, you would have to become a runner and get fit, which could take years. (Of course, you might be up for it.)
Brand Positioning Oversimplified
If you are like many entrepreneurs, you want to start a company or brand because you have something unique to bring to market. All you have to do for good brand positioning is make a sandwich.
The top slice of bread is what the market wants and needs, and the bottom slice, the foundation, is what you know. Your product is the middle, the heart of the sandwich (your brand), the reason people choose it and eat it up. And the condiments, lettuce, and cheese? Oh, that’s pure marketing.
Positioning around what you know will make your job easier. If you have credentials and relevant experience, you have a huge head start. Figure out what people want, match it up with what you can offer, and put in the hard work to make it reality.
Good brand positioning makes the difference between failure or success. Positioning around what you know is a critical step towards the latter.