What does the brand command?

By Chuck Sink | May 20, 2015

A company’s content and advertising messages can sometimes stray dangerously far from the spirit of its brand identity because something sounds wonderfully creative or there’s a desire to push someone’s idea. Perhaps there’s an enticing piece of potential business beckoning, so why not take a brand strategy diversion to go after it? Because doing so risks brand dilution and market confusion which can weaken overall sales.

I think most of us can agree that a brand is an extremely valuable intangible asset that requires disciplined nurturing to attract new business and keep current customers feeling welcomed. Brand equity can increase and decrease as consumers collectively feel a certain way about the brand at any given time. Attempting to leverage your brand’s value into business categories outside your core strength invariably affects delivery of your core products and services. Brand extension can be very tempting but the foundation of brand value is authenticity. Authenticity is proven only by consistently matching customer experiences with brand promises.

Keep it simple. Use your positioning statement!

Many business owners and marketing directors struggle with how to create content for their inbound marketing efforts. They wonder what to say and how to say it in an article, sponsorship, ad or promotion. Before crafting any company message, the brand strategy should be consulted for direction. The brand’s positioning statement is the idea platform from which you can develop brand-congruent messages that reinforce your strategic identity in the market – being known for the reasons you should be known.

When considering what your message should be for any external communication, ask: What does our brand command? Your positioning statement will infuse the spirit of your brand identity into the ideas you wish to convey.

Does your business have a positioning statement? Forget mission statement! Your positioning statement sums up how and why your organization delivers value, and you should remind consumers of that value every chance you get. Keep in mind that B2B clients are consumers. Business consumers are just as emotionally driven and socially engaged as anyone else so branding and positioning are crucial for industrial, manufacturing and technology driven businesses.

How to Write Your Positioning Statement

Doug Stayman writing in eCornell Blog offers guidelines for writing a strong positioning statement.

“What makes a good positioning statement? Here are six keys to keep in mind:

  1. It is simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market.
  2. It provides an unmistakable and easily understood picture of your brand that differentiates it from your competitors.
  3. It is credible, and your brand can deliver on its promise.
  4. Your brand can be the sole occupier of this particular position in the market. You can “own” it.
  5. It helps you evaluate whether or not marketing decisions are consistent with and supportive of your brand.
  6. It leaves room for growth.”

Here’s the formula for writing your positioning statement, courtesy of Brandeo.

“There are four elements or components of a positioning statement:

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.

Criteria for Evaluating a Positioning Statement

  • Is it memorable, motivating and focused to the core prospect?
  • Does it provide a clear, distinctive and meaningful picture of the brand that differentiates it from the competition?
  • Can the brand own it?
  • Is it credible and believable?
  • Does it enable growth?
  • Does it serve as a filter for brand decision making?

Template for a Positioning Statement:

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

Here’s an example from Amazon.com:

“For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, Amazon.com is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books, because unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.”

Here’s ours:

“For Business Leaders and Strategic Marketing Directors, Chuck Sink Link is the marketing communications firm that creates ideal messages for your target audience, because we reveal the authentic value of your brand and communicate it with relevance and clarity.”

The strongest brands today are those with owners who listen to their customers and target audiences. Their brand identities are determined by aligning consumer desires and emotions with core company mission and values. The brand is shaped largely by how the market gains value from its use, congruent with what the brand’s organization stands for.

For a brand to be successful, it must convey a very specific value that’s measured in quantifiable benefits and emotional satisfaction. While these intangibles may be hard to measure at first, the buying behavior of your new customers will be easy to gauge.

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