Brands are everywhere. In fact, studies show that the average person living in a large urban city today runs across 3,000 brands every 24 hours. Not convinced? Start counting the brands you see from the moment you wake up tomorrow morning … from your brand of alarm clock to your brand of sheets, toothbrush, toothpaste, refrigerator, breakfast cereal, smartphone, computer. Then, head outside and notice the dozens of brands on the sides of buses, in the aisles of your neighborhood store, and then on billboards on the highway. You get the picture.
This is the world in which your brand competes. In fact, business owners today face two harsh realities: (1) It’s more and more challenging to compete in this ever-growing sea of brand choices, and (2) this brand influx comes at a time when marketing budgets are tighter than ever due to struggling economies.
Despite all that doom and gloom, I’m here to tell you that you already have what you need to build a strong brand and stick out. In fact, you have five assets you can use immediately to create a powerful brand, without spending a lot of money. In this and a few follow-on posts, you’ll learn more about these five assets.
So, what’s the #1 most important low-cost asset you already have in your brand-building arsenal? Positioning. A smartly-positioned brand is the foundation for success.
What is “brand positioning,” anyway? It’s the way you want your customers to perceive, think, and feel about your brand, compared to the competition. It’s a unique and specific piece of mental real estate that your brand owns in the minds of your customers, and it clearly defines the reason your brand exists.
Some small business owners scoff at positioning and say, “We’re too small – we don’t have, or even need, a positioning.” The truth is: Small companies need a positioning even more than big companies. Big conglomerates have the budgets to make mistakes now and then and can recover quickly. But, if you’re small, even minor branding mistakes can cost you a lot. In fact, an unclear brand positioning for a small company could mean the end of the company – fast.
You Already Have a Positioning
Here’s another branding myth: “I’ve never given my company’s positioning any thought, so I don’t yet have one.” The reality is: You already have a positioning, whether you like it or not. That’s because your customers have perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about your brand right now. The question is whether those perceptions, thoughts, and feelings reflect the positioning you want.
Bottom line? If you don’t have a clear and well-defined brand positioning statement, you just aren’t in the driver’s seat, and your chances of business success are limited.
By the way, positioning isn’t just the product or service you sell. Take chewing gum, as an example.
Let’s face it: All gum is made up of the same basic ingredients – a chunk of gum
base, some sweetener, and flavoring. But, how those same “products” are positioned as brands can be dramatically different:
- Clorets gum eliminates bad breath.
- Hubba Bubba provides big bubble-blowing satisfaction.
- Dentyne Fire and Ice offers intense flavors.
- The sugar-free Five gum brand is for health-conscious consumers to help attract the opposite sex.
- Orbit provides white and beautiful teeth. The brand says, “You can have beautiful teeth even if the rest of you isn’t so beautiful.”
Get the idea? Getting your positioning right is the single most important part of the branding process, but “getting it right” requires that you first define it in a brand positioning statement that includes six core elements: Target Market, Customer Needs, Competitive Framework, Benefits, Reasons Why, and Brand Character. How well those six elements fit together to form the basis of your brand makes the difference between success and failure. And, that’s how you get your brand to stand out among the 3,000+ brands your customers are barraged with every day.
Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank
Building a brand for your business doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Discover five proven marketing strategies you can use right now to grow your company brand, at little or no cost.