As competitive markets shift and consumer preferences evolve, windows of opportunity open. The brands willing to be proactive in their own evolution will greatly benefit, while those standing by waiting for the dust to settle will find themselves on the outside looking in. Uncertainty can be paralyzing; but with the right outlook and approach it can yield growth and innovation.
Before getting into the good stuff, I’d like to add a little context around this blog series. We are breaking these concepts into four parts to ensure each part is covered in detail. But also, to illustrate the point that it is a building process; each individual part supports the next. Many brands want to feel like they “hit the ground running” by jumping over the foundational steps. This route is high-risk – full of pitfalls and unforeseen obstacles. Ultimately, in an effort to speed up the process, irreversible mistakes can be made which force overly eager brands back to the beginning. The preceding efforts end up wasting time and resources which are completely avoidable outcomes. Our intent with this blog series is to offer a framework or process guide to ensure you side-step common pitfalls and efficiently work toward your goals.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance and value of digging into your existing customer data inventory. Leveraging the insights found within your customer database, CRM systems, and past market research projects will ensure you build upon what is already known, avoid repeating unnecessary steps, and maximize ROI from past initiatives. All this is to establish your starting point, because knowing where you currently stand will ensure next steps are efficient and effective.
Equipped with the understanding of where you stand today, based on the insights found within your existing data inventory, it’s time to start thinking forward. Here we move into Part 2 and begin the process of Strategic Brand Positioning. This is where we identify the conceptual place you want to occupy within the competitive market and the consumer’s mind.
Effective brand positioning requires a combination of understanding your competitive market and understanding your customers. These factors define the external landscape and will act as a guide for internal decision making. For the past 35 years, we’ve partnered with brands across many industries to identify where they currently stand, clarify a vision of where they want to go, and develop a strategy for effectively getting there. Here are some of the steps we take with Strategic Brand Positioning initiatives:
Take a snapshot of the environmental, competitive, and potentially disruptive variables surrounding your business.
Are you familiar with the competitive market and the consumer’s mind after removing the context of your brand? When is the last time you objectively looked at your surrounding environment and considered the customer’s perspective without the filter of your own objectives? These are important questions to ask because you are looking to position your brand within an independent space that exists with or without you. So, an unbiased, unfiltered examination of this world is a good place to start when planning where/how you fit in.
Brand Awareness & Perception
Establish how well consumers know your brand and then uncover how you are viewed within the competitive marketplace.
An effective Brand Positioning Strategy is dependent on knowing your brand’s current level of awareness and perception within your target consumer population. Leaning on presumptions or guesses when addressing these factors can result in false confidence and misguided decision making. Be proactive in engaging customers; gather their insights to test your brand’s awareness and perception theories. This information will establish a factually based starting point ensuring future initiatives build upon strengths and address points of concern.
Track and measure the impact of your brand messaging campaigns by comparing awareness and perception results over time.
As the adage goes, perception is reality. Regardless of your intended brand image, customers hold the power to determine your brand’s reality. Leveraging brand awareness and perception data to establish performance benchmarks will provide a measurement system to assess the impact of marketing campaigns. At this point in the process, gathering customer insight will shed light on the level of impact had by past marketing efforts. If actual perception is aligned with intended perception, then these marketing practices can be applied within the developing Brand Positioning Strategy. However, if there is a disconnect between reality and what was intended, then you can revisit ineffective marketing practices before including them in future plans.
Strategic Brand Positioning will act as an overarching framework guiding individual projects, campaigns, and initiatives. It will provide a consistent point of reference when decisions are made across multiple teams or departments and ensure collective efforts are focused on the ultimate goal. Through this approach, ongoing efforts will be focused, intentional, and can be adjusted as needed along the way while still holding true to the overall vision.
Our next post along this four-part series will discuss the power and practice of active listening:
PART 2 – Developing a customer insight strategy to support business objectives AND strengthen customer relationships