Brand Positioning is Priority One
Determining how to position your brand, product, or service is the most important marketing activity a brand or product owner will undertake, because all other marketing efforts (such as new product development, social media messaging, advertising, among others) will flow out of the positioning.
The typical elements of a classic positioning include the following:
- Target audience
- Frame of reference (category)
- USP (Unique Selling Proposition) / Value Proposition / Benefit
- Reason to believe (attribute/s)
These elements are usually arranged into a simple and clear sentence that articulates the brand’s position. Following are two examples:
Crest: Crest (brand) is the toothpaste (frame of reference) that mom (target) says cleans her kids’ teeth best (USP / benefit) because it tastes good so they brush longer (attribute).
Taco Bell Value Menu: For Fast Food Value Seekers (target) that feel value menus are all the same (frame of reference), Taco Bell’s Why Pay More Menu (brand) will shatter your value expectations (benefit) because it gives you bigger food items for under a buck (attribute).
The Role of Research
OC Marketing Analytics strategic partner Sift, Cipher & Bloom works with clients to brainstorm a list of tangible and intangible attributes and benefits that pertain to their category and brand, and analyze the competition’s performance against these attributes and benefits. Often, our clients’ inclination is to rely on their experience and intuition to craft sentences such as the above to position their brand based exclusively on this internally generated information.
The danger in this approach is that what our client thinks is their strength and their competitors’ weakness may not match up to what their customers think. Even if, from a technical standpoint, they outperform competitors on a certain attribute or sets of attributes, these may not be the most important features to focus on to drive sales.
Sift, Cipher & Bloom works with OC Marketing Analytics to integrate the voice of the customer and ensure that clients are truly meeting their customers’ needs and are selecting the most critical attributes and benefits to best position themselves in a crowded and highly competitive marketplace. The questions we answer for them are:
What is MOST important to your customers?
What can you CREDIBLY say, and, more importantly, OWN?
Clearly, the answers to the two questions need to intersect – if what is important to customers doesn’t match what a client can deliver on, then the client will need to reposition itself.
A Two-Phased Research Process
To answer the two critical questions above, we conduct two phases of customer research.
Qualitative research helps determine customer wants and needs and identify drivers of behavior. Creative and projective techniques such as brand sorting, collages, and picture identification are used to develop a better understanding of customer feelings, beliefs, and motivations. We talk about the brand in question and competitive brands, and expose participants to various potential positioning statements to elicit reactions and refine what to test in the second phase of research.
Quantitative research follows to determine the relevance of tangible and intangible brand attributes and benefits prioritized in the prior phase, and to assess the degree to which each helps customers distinguish the brand from competing brands. Ultimately, we determine which attributes, benefits, and positioning options are most likely to drive growth (through metrics such as purchase interest, frequency of purchase, share of wallet).
Insight Backed Positioning Decisions
Armed with the insight and information from these two phases of research, Sift, Cipher & Bloom develops and refines the final positioning that captures what is most important to customers and that articulates what clients can credibly say and own. The outcome is a razor sharp brand positioning, clearly articulated and prioritized attribute,s and benefits to optimize (or in some cases completely make over) brand identity, messaging, new product development, social media efforts, packaging. Ultimately this process creates a stronger connection with customers to drive long term sales.