Your brand embodies how your customers and potential customers see your business. Whether you like it or not, the public is developing opinions about your brand, and it’s up to you to guide your audience with intentional, consistent, and effective branding. In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of brand personality and brand positioning, including what the difference is and how to develop an effective strategy for your business.
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Developing Brand Personality
A brand personality makes your business seem more human and better enables you to communicate with customers authentically. Audiences want the brands they follow to display consistent human emotions and traits that they can identify with and relate to. Some customers want brands to share their sense of humor, whereas others want brands to share their ideals. In other words, customers want to make brands their friends—someone who understands and sees them.
Any deviation from your brand personality will trigger the “inauthentic” alarms in your audience’s head, exposing your brand as fraudulent. It’s essentially the same as learning that a trusted friend has been lying to you about an important aspect of their personal life.
What is Your Brand Like as a Person?
Begin thinking about your brand as a person. How would you describe your brand if it was someone you knew? What are they like? How do they make people feel? What type of people do they attract?
List adjectives to describe who your brand is so that you can portray this personality in every interaction and audience touchpoint. For example, Blue Summit is innovative, bold, resourceful, and playful.
Set clear guidelines around your brand personality based on adjectives, your brand values, target audience, and offering. Everyone in your company should live and breathe this personality. Every customer interaction, online communication, or marketing campaign needs to maintain a clear and consistent brand personality. How does your brand sound when it speaks?
Developing a clear style guide that goes beyond visual elements to include notes about your brand voice, word choice, style, etc., will help your team stay on the same page as they interact with customers as your brand.
Developing a Brand Positioning Strategy
Brand positioning refers to where you are placed within your industry or market. How is your brand positioned compared to competitors? This positioning sometimes occurs naturally, while other times, businesses need to be more intentional about where they are positioned.
Coca-Cola, for example, became a brand leader by developing a first of its kind original product. This sets it apart from competitors and allows the brand to dictate price, product expectations, and industry standards.
Whether you have a strategy or not, your audience is positioning your brand in comparison to other options on the market. It is in a business’s best interest to develop a market positioning strategy in order to guide public perception. This way, all of your sales, marketing, and branding decisions are aligned with your position (or hopeful position) in the market.
The first step to establishing a brand positioning strategy is to determine who each of your competitors is. Once you understand who you are competing with, you can assess their products or services compared to your own. What do they do well? Why might a customer choose them over you? Don’t be afraid to ask around. If you lose a customer, ask them why. Why did they choose another brand over yours? Dig into reviews, online forums, sales data, and customer service interaction to understand where your brand currently fits compared to competitor brands.
Brand Positioning Statement
A positioning statement distills a brand’s position, audience, and offering into one clear statement. This statement is often used internally to ensure all team members and departments align, but it can also be used externally to describe your unique offering.
Positioning statements should be short and concise while clearly conveying important information about your brand.
Nike’s iconic positioning statement is: “For serious athletes, Nike gives confidence that provides the perfect shoe for every sport.” Lately, the brand has shifted gears toward a people and planet-focused mission: “Nike is a brand of hope and inspiration. We believe in the power of sport to bring out the best in people, and the potential of people to bring out the best in our world.”
Slack positions itself as: “Slack is the collaboration hub that brings the right people, information, and tools together to get work done. From Fortune 100 companies to corner markets, millions of people around the world use Slack to connect their teams, unify their systems, and drive their business forward.”
Brand Positioning Map
Map out your position on a brand positioning map, which visualizes differences between brands based on set characteristics. For example, you might compare coffee brands based on price and quality. For each map , there would be an x-axis (price high vs. low) and a y-axis (quality high vs. low. Starbucks would land around high-quality and high-price. Dunkin’ Donuts or Tim Hortons would be placed somewhere in the center. 7-Eleven coffee would fall under low-quality and low-price.
Brand positioning maps can assess and compare all types of characteristics, such as healthy vs. unhealthy, natural or unnatural, practical or indulgent, exclusivity, coolness, etc.
Once you understand your positioning or the brand positioning you are aiming for, you can reinforce it in all aspects of your business. Ensure sales and marketing are aligned with your desired position and that you are reaching your target market. Make sure your team understands your brand position and that everyone embodies your brand internally and externally.
Examples of Brand Positioning
Nike Brand Positioning
The Nike brand is positioned as the standard in athletic products, yet they’re able to sell products at a higher price point due to an emphasis on quality. They differentiate the brand from competitors through extensive innovation and technology. They are constantly innovating and testing products to improve industry standards while keeping a focus on helping people and the planet
Apple Brand Positioning
Apple has long positioned its brand as innovative and revolutionary. They create an exclusive experience in Apple stores with minimal community interaction. They are mysterious about new products, aiming to create intrigue, anticipation, and buildup as a means to hold people’s attention. Apple’s innovative and highly sought-after products are able to sit at a higher price point compared to competitors, which is a defining aspect of the brand’s positioning.
Starbucks Brand Positioning
Starbucks has a quality-based differentiation. The brand positions itself apart from competitors by offering a top-quality experience. They are able to sell products that are much more expensive than competitors, such as Dunkin' Donuts or Tim Hortons, because of the upscale atmosphere, packaging, and unique products they provide.
Blue Summit Supplies Brand Positioning
Blue Summit Supplies differentiates itself as a market disruptor. The brand is positioned against competitors as an innovator in office supplies that provides reasonably priced, quality products with top-notch customer service. In an industry filled with dull brands and complicated pricing models, Blue Summit is positioned to disrupt the status quo.
What is a Multi-Brand Strategy?
A multi-brand strategy occurs when an overarching brand has multiple other brands in the same industry aimed at different target markets. For example, a phone provider may sell phone plans under multiple brands—one marketed at younger, hip audiences, one marketed at businesses, and one marketed as an upscale option.
Multi-brand strategies are also common in the soft drink industry, such as a single brand selling two products in direct competition. Coca-Cola owns a number of beverage brands, many of which are very similar products marketed to different audiences. Minute Maid and Simply are both juice brands, and DASANI and smartwater are both water brands all made by Coca-Cola. The individual brand strategies would be much different, targeting two separate audiences.
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