This week I've been thrilled to be published by Marketing Tech Outlook. My article "BRAND POSITIONING Keep your people, your customersand your competitors close" made it onto the CXO part of this prestigious publishers website. It gives tips and examples of how good listening can ensure your positioning strategy is relevant - both now and into the future. Read it here »
I've republished it below for your enjoyment:
Brand positioning: Keep your people, your customers, and your competitors close
Some of the world’s most successful brands have become part of our language. When you need to know the answer to a question quickly, do you turn to an online search engine, or do you Google it? When you need to make a note, do you ask for a pen or a Biro? When you want to clean the carpet do you vacuum it or do you Hoover it?
These companies have mastered the art of encapsulating the unique value that their brand presents to their customers. In fact, they have positioned the brand in such a clear, strong way that the brand name has become a generic term for other products in a similar niche.
Aside from the great optics of becoming part of language, excellent brand positioning can have a direct impact on the bottom line - brands that are powerfully positioned and consistently presented see an average revenue increase of 10-20%.
Many leadership teams have aspirations to reach similar heights of success - as they absolutely should - but how to get from A to B is not always clear. What’s more, as the customer journey becomes more hybrid, having a clear red thread throughout physical and digital touch points can be difficult.
That is why a clear approach to brand positioning is essential. By putting your customers front and centre, and closely aligning your leadership team with your brand purpose, values and culture will mean that all three cascade through your people and out to your customers. As a result, you will be rewarded with their loyalty and attention.
Know your customers
Brands must go a few levels deeper than simply a logo, some attractive colours and fonts. Investing in qualitative and quantitative research is essential. Without it, your positioning will be a shot in the dark.
Take, for example, SpecSavers.
The 2003 launch of the highly successful 'Should've gone to Specsavers' campaign masterfully tapped into customers’ fears of public embarrassment, playfully warned of the dangers of not having the correct visual aids, and used an unforgettable tagline to position their services as superior to competitors. The universal understanding of the perils of poor eyesight gives the campaign endless creative possibilities.
Whilst this whip smart campaign generated brand fame, the cornerstone of winning customer’s loyalty is SpecSavers’ commitment to its core values - since its first store opened in 1984, Specsavers' greatest achievement has been that it has revolutionised the optical market through its joint venture philosophy and transparent pricing.
In their in store experience, customers are made to feel that, although there is naturally some knowledge asymmetry when it comes to purchasing visual aids, the brand ethos puts customers needs above financial gains.
Going even deeper, because the opticians own their own stores and keep all the profits, paying a management fee to Specsavers Optical Group (the mother company) for their support services and marketing activity, they have a vested interest in serving their community and making their business a success.
SpecSavers has used its understanding of the values, desires and fears of their customers to build a meaningful connection. Further, the close alignment of leaders, stakeholders and employees with this strategy has supercharged their success. 20 years on from the campaign, SpecSavers boasts almost 2,500 businesses across 11 countries, with more than 41 million customers.
Know your people
Your people are the face that your brand shows the world. They should align with the aspirations of the brand and understand the pathway to success. Ideally, your people will be aware of the history of the brand, but they will primarily be future gazers. They need to know what you stand for and where you are going.
The responsibility of aligning and inspiring your people lies with your leadership team. The company ethos, values and messages can only be cascaded from your C suite, through your people, and on to your customers. Your Employee Experience (EX) is often directly connected to your Customer Experience (CX). Your brand therefore needs to be inspiring, truthful and understandable from the inside out. A good brand strategy should glue everything together.
Know your competitors
A wise person once said “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” … I wouldn’t necessarily describe your competitors as ‘enemies’, but if we want our brand to stand tall amidst the competition, we must understand the alternative options that our customers have.
This insight will fuel ways for your brand to be distinct in the way it can solve customer problems. In an ideal world, you want to become the only natural choice for your target customer, creating so much value they don’t look elsewhere. To do this though you need to research the alternatives and actively work on standing apart from them.
The process for this research can be as simple or comprehensive as you wish - you can employ a research agency to complete competitor analysis (including finding out who has the biggest share of voice in the industry), or simply complete desk research.
During this research phase, a key focus is finding competitors' blind spots and exploiting them. Once we identify these opportunities, we can actively look to assign resources towards them.
Insight = evolution
As you continue to build and change your brand, insights will remain essential to your strategy.
Listen passionately, act boldly, and unleash the full potential of your brand by positioning it for your customer, against the competition and rooted in authenticity.
Huge thank you to my good friend, PR Consultant and Expert Alice Hooper for helping make this happen. 🙏