26 Universal Questions for Brand Positioning (and Creating Your Brand Story)
Every company or an individual creating their business plan essentially wants the same thing: their brand to succeed.
This article will deal with some of the most common questions that are raised in regard to creating your brand and brand positioning.
We will start at the beginning of your brand story and explain what needs to be taken into consideration.
How do you want to start and make yourself successful?
There are three points that are important:
- What you are good at
- Do what you love
Your story of success has to be a mix of all three of these points. Let us break it down.
If you create a brand based on ‘what you’re good at’ and ‘do what you love’ and there is no money coming in the combination, you will probably go bankrupt very soon.
If you combine ‘profitability’ and ‘do what you love’ and you are not good at that, then it is just a dream, and again it will not be a successful undertaking.
And in the case where you create a business based on your skills and profitability but without the love for the work you are doing, you will quickly lose motivation, become bored and competitors will pass you on the way to success.
Now let us state that you have a good starting point.
You have a service you are good at, it has the potential to bring you money and you love doing it.
What comes next is a brand creation.
Here is a list of questions that should help you create your brand.
1. What is a brand?
Many people confuse a brand with a logo. Yes, logo IS a visual representation of your brand; it helps in advertising and hopefully sticks in the consumers’ minds, but branding goes deeper than the logo.
Formally, a brand is a trademark for a specific service. Conceptually, it is a “contract” between the company and the consumers/users- a promise of benefits, value, and quality.
And, actually, in the simplest terms, a brand is what your customer thinks it is regardless of what you tried to define it as.
2. Who am I?
What you need to do to get the consumers to share your idea of your brand is to create a strong and clear branded message.
That message will achieve that what you think you are, and what you want to be in your consumers’ heads will be in accordance.
Put yourself in your audience shoes, and imagine what you would like to hear from someone speaking to you.
The clarity of that message is attained by good brand positioning, which brings us to the next question.
3. What is brand positioning?
Brand positioning is an action you have to take to place your brand in the minds/ and hearts of your target customers.
It is what you do to draw them to purchase your product or use your service. It is what makes you different from other brands in the same category.
4. How is brand positioning implemented?
Brand positioning is implemented through all elements of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion, and place
Note: Many people confuse marketing and advertising. Advertising is just one part of marketing.
5. How do I position my brand in the consumers’ minds?
When talking about the notion of brand positioning we have to think about the positioning statement, i.e. branded message. Let us take a look at some examples:
-Apple Computers offers…the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumer around the world, through innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.
-IBM… for businesses who need computers, IBM is the company you can trust for all your needs.
Both examples are significantly different from one another even though they are the products that belong to the same category.
They differentiate in three aspects that have to be thoroughly thought about in creating a strong positioning statement: target segment, a point of difference, and frame of reference.
6. Who are my consumers?
The answer to this question is your target segment-people you want to sell your product or offer your service to.
A well-defined target consumer market is essential for your brand in terms of advertising, design, price and so on.
The more specific target segment is the more your idea of a brand coincides with the consumers’ idea.
For example, if you are creating a clothing brand for females between 15 and 25, you will advertise in a different way than if you are creating the same brand for business women over 30.
On the other hand, if you just state it is a clothing line for women, your target segment will be too broad for you to define a good marketing strategy, design, etc.
So, who were Apple Computers’ customers?
Those are students, educators and creative professionals – creative individuals.
On the other hand, IBM focused on businesses. In both cases, a specifically defined consumer market that leaves little room for confusion about the brand.
7. What are the customer problems I want to solve?
The answer to this question is what your goal actually is when creating a brand.
Is it an easier way to travel, is it more affordable studies?
Basically, it is your motivation for doing what you do.
In order to better understand the role of motivation in creating the story of your brand check out the video below:
“The most common thing that pegs an entrepreneur as an amateur is when they come in and immediately start talking about their amazing new technology and forget to start the discussion with, “What big problem in the market am I trying to solve?” If they don’t start with the problem, then I know they are green.” – Dina Routhier.
8. Where can we find them?
The answer to this question helps you place your product adequately. It also helps you to decide a proper way of reaching them by means of advertising.
Do you plan to send newsletters or post some Facebook Adds? Do your desired customers spend a lot of their time on Facebook? If not, think about a different strategy.
If we take into consideration the example of Facebook that has over 2 billion active accounts, you can easily target your audience using the Facebook Ads.
At least, that’s what “Milka” did.
By using video ads they have made the incremental reach of 2.7%.
In other words, they have reached 68% of their target audience just by using Facebook and Instagram.
9. What is my consumer like?
To answer this question you have to think about all the aspects that make up your ideal customer. The aspects go from their physical appearance, personal requirements, need, etc.
What you should do is put yourself in their shoes and think, for example: “If I were a 35-year-old soccer mom, what would my needs be?”
If you were designing a new car and wanted your buyers to be the said group of soccer moms, you would focus on comfort, size, big trunk, children safety and so on,… You definitely wouldn’t try to sell a racing car to this target group.
Think about Gillette. Their target customers are successful men. They are supposed to be clean-shaven, sharp-dressed businessmen.
That is what first comes to mind, although Gillette has a much broader offer consisting of products meant for men’s personal hygiene but also a set of products for women.
10. What are their beliefs and values?
As you are considering all the sides of your ideal buyer, pay attention to their personal beliefs, or values in order not to put them away if you make an oversight.
Think about their religion, political view, social status, upbringing, etc.
Would your USA consumers rather buy a product coming from the USA or from China? Let’s say, you are targeting mid-aged man from the USA.
Given the fact that everyone loves their country, would they make a purchase of a product that is made in their own country rather from China?
In other words, target their beliefs, nationality and those facts which are causing strong emotions.
After you have determined your buyers and thought about what you want to offer to them, it is time to think more closely about your product or service.
Examine the next segment of a positioning statement.
11. What is your Frame of Reference?
The answer to this question places your product/service in a certain area, an industry. It refers to other competitors in the same area that you are comparing yourself to.
Those are the traits of the industry that both your product and the products of your competitors share.
Let us take a look at Apple Computers’ positioning statement. What is their frame of reference? It is other ‘personal’ computers.
What are some other examples? If you are planning on branding a new chain of fast-food restaurants, your brand has to be all that which makes it a chain fast food restaurant.
12. What makes your competition good?
It is easy to think about what your competition lacks.
But think about what they are good at, and try to copy that as this is something that keeps the customers faithful to that product.
Try to improve their “good sides” and implement those sides to your own brand.
13. How can I compete?
This is essential to define as this is what will make your product stand out in the group of products in the same area.
When you get your competitive advantage right, you have your unique selling proposition (USP).
In regard to this, you should make it not easy to copy, as your competitors will try to do the same.
The good position is a part of or a place in the market that you own and hope to own for a prolonged period of time.
That could be achieved through benefits, design, performance, or anything that meets the needs of your target consumers.
14. What is the point of difference?
The point of difference is similar to the notion of USP. It is the reason to purchase your product or use your service.
It is something that should be new on the market, an improvement on your previous brand or something that your competitors have not thought of yet. It is important that the point of difference should be relative to the frame of reference.
On the example of Apple Computers, we see that the point of difference is ‘innovative’. So Apple offers state of the art products, we look for design and innovation when buying their products.
Therefore, when looking at a brand new iPhone, we are actually looking at the point of difference between the previous version and the new one, or the version of their competitor’s Android phones.
That very difference makes us decide for one or another brand.
So, make your brand different and innovative.
15. What is the USP?
Unique selling proposition is your promise to the customers that they will get what they paid for. You are basically saying: “We are selling exactly what we say we are. Trust us.”
The USP is the benefit the consumers get when they purchase your product.
16. What is the role of brand positioning?
Aside from placing the product in the mindset of the consumers, brand positioning opens the door for messaging i.e. telling the story of your band.
After you have worked through the positioning, it should be easy to determine what exact products you want to develop.
You can think about the features of your product- the color, design, logo, and so on.
17. Comparing value, benefits, and features.
Let us take an example of toothpaste. Imagine whitening toothpaste. Its feature is that it is whitening. What are the benefits? Nicer smile.
And what is the value?
Well, the benefit is higher self-confidence.
All three are parts of your product but what you need to start at is that underlying motivation to get that service – in this case, the consumer’s need for “more self-confidence”.
Ultimately, we are not looking at the features of one product. We are actually looking at how we can benefit from that very product. So are our customers.
The U.S. market for infomercial products stood at $170 billion in 2009 and could exceed $250 billion by 2015. In fact, with the worth of the entire U.S. network and cable industry estimated at $97 billion as of 2013, DRTV [direct response television] is much bigger than the TV itself.
Why am I bringing this up? If there is anything that infomercials are good at, it’s selling benefits. For one, they understand that people can be coaxed, not driven.
18. What is consistency?
In brand positioning, brand consistency is important in a way that it keeps the consumers loyal to your brand.
This is a very relatable point, because if some product was valuable, unique on the market and the brand starts to be inconsistent with their quality of service, the value they offer or even features, consumers start to lose faith in the said product.
There are situations when consistency should be abandoned, and there will be a word on that later in the text.
19. What is a brand experience?
Brand experience is everything your consumer thinks or feels about your brand. It refers to the research experience, shopping experience.
How do they feel when they are doing the research – do your adds contain sufficient information?
How do they feel when they are shopping for your product – is your salesperson kind and helpful?
And, finally, how do they feel when they are using your product – does it meet their expectations, is it user-friendly, does it help?
All those aspects influence people’s gut feeling about your product. If their gut feeling is good they are likely to become loyal consumers.
In regard to this, think about brand ambassadors and how they can improve consumers’ experience.
20. What do my consumers think of the brand?
We already said that your brand is what your consumers think it is. Read this for a better understanding of customer’s perception.
But how can you get the information on how they see you? Ask them. Market research helps to determine if the image you have about your product agrees with the intended idea.
And what if this is not the case? What can you do?
21. What is repositioning?
Repositioning happens when the needs of your consumers shift, or when you decide to change any aspect of your positioning statement.
A fine example is broadening your market area. Apple Computers changed the name to just Apple (as we know it today) when the company’s frame of reference shifted from personal computers to electronic devices. They now produce phones, MP3 players, and so on.
If they did not change their name why would consumers buy an MP3 player from a brand that is specialized in PCs only?
22. Why is repositioning important?
We talked about the importance of consistency, but why is sometimes harmful to insist on consistency?
Repositioning probably has to happen for the majority of brands at some point in their development due to the market changes.
Let us take as an example the development of mobile phones.
If a brand would insist on the consistency of design and keeping the features that were in demand 10 years ago, that brand would lose consumers and run out of business.
The reason is that it would not keep up with the change of consumer behavior that now requires an access to the internet, compact design, and so on.
23. What is a brand story?
It is very important to define your brand story since it will exist whether you choose to put it out there because the consumers participate in its creation as well.
Online blogs are filled with reviews about certain brands and those reviews become a part of that brand’s story.
Aside from giving some information about the brand itself, the storytelling must include a segment that will engage the consumers emotionally. Include some information about the brand’s history, ups-and-downs during the creation process and more.
24. Is brand story different from advertising?
In some way, brand storytelling is similar to advertising since it brings the brand closer to the consumer. The difference is that an add doesn’t necessarily have to produce an emotional response.
25. What do consumers get from the story?
The story gives them something they can relate to – as everybody feels the need to belong to something, inspires them to take action for some cause, or moves them.
Take a look at one of NIKE’s brand stories. What do you think is the idea behind it? How does it make you feel?
26. Why can’t you do everything?
Finally, careful brand positioning means that you will have to make choices.
You will have to choose your consumers, your point of difference, the tone of your story… You cannot be everything for everyone as you will lack focus which will result in a bad brand position.
To summarize, in order to effectively position your brand in the market, you have to decide on your area of expertise, define your core consumers, and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Make your consumers be a part of your brand story by being relatable, motivate and inspire them.
Remember that the most successful people are those who are inspired by what they do.
Be a part of something that you will love developing, and you will definitively create the best version of the product that is possible.