Why it's crucial for B2C brands to do a branding exercise before they go to market.
What is brand positioning and what does it entail?
Brand positioning refers to the process of setting yourself aside from your competitors, in order to establish yourself as the best possible choice, for your targeted buyers. Essentially, it answers the following questions:
What is my business selling, and to whom are we selling it?
Who is my business a better solution for, and if so, why?
It is important to note that constructing your brand and positioning your brand refers to entirely different practises. Several companies, across a range of industries, often confuse the two, and are unsure about how to execute the process of positioning their brand. However, before diving into the most optimum practises for brand positioning, it is vital to go over why brand positioning is crucial for businesses in the first place.
Why is brand positioning important for businesses?
Allows you to stand out within a competitive market: the B2B SaaS marketplace is exceedingly overcrowded, particularly during 2021. Buyers are often facing an information overload with fears of who to trust, coupled with worrying about what their brands actually require. Therefore, brand positioning allows your brand to successfully embed itself within the market whilst creating an authentic reputation for itself. As marketers, it allows you to convey what your products are, why you’re different, and why should any of that matter at all, to a targeted customer base in a quick, and efficient, manner.
Correctly positioning yourself within the right market category: a product can undoubtedly be positioned within multiple categories at once. This is because some brands often fail to differentiate between a ‘market’, and a ‘category’. Positioning your brand within the wrong category could potentially set you up against a larger competitor with a bigger budget, more product features, and a customer base you cannot compete with. However, when competing within the right market, your targeted buyers will be able to better identify your brand as the best option for them. Moreover, brand positioning enhances the clarity of the value of a brand, while further centering it with the right context.
Building a sales and marketing foundation: the very best brands in the world today are built on a steady foundation of successful brand positioning. This is because brand positioning provides your brand with the right direction for tactical and strategic marketing, coupled with sales activities. As such, it allows brands to connect with their audiences in a manner which generates conversions, and popularises brand messaging.
What can businesses accomplish with brand positioning?
Buyers typically look for brands which are unique within the industry. By setting aside clear differentiators, you allow your brand to come across as unique, in comparison to your competitors. In fact, buyers are constantly wondering ‘’Why should I pick this particular brand?’’; as a business, you want to make this answer as obvious as possible. April Dunford, writer of ‘Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning So Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It’ states
“Strong positioning helps make why you’re special, or your awesomeness obvious, to the customers that are most likely to buy from you.”
Increase your relevance to the right audience
Standing apart from your competitors obviously isn’t enough. Buyers further wish to view a brand as relevant to their respective needs. Therefore, when you position your brand within a particular, narrow niche, it helps buyers to understand the value of your business since you’re utilising heavy industry terminology, and doubling down on information which is only relevant to your target audience. Furthermore, it helps filter out audiences who would’ve made unfit leads for your business. This is because those who are unable to resonate with the terminology your brand utilises, clearly possess no interest in what you have to offer.
Enhance your customer loyalty
Successfully positioning your brand assists a business with garnering new customers whilst also retaining their present customer base. By allotting time towards the adequate positioning of your brand, you’re fulfilling customer expectations, forming relationships, and building trust with your audience. If a business fails to meet customer expectations, it’s highly likely they’re going to lose their buyers.
How do I get started with a brand positioning strategy?
Now that we’ve familiarised ourselves with brand positioning and its essential uses, you might be wondering how to actually form optimum brand positioning. Here’s a guided process for businesses to follow.
Build your customer profile
Correctly positioning your brand is all about solving the problems of an ideal customer. To do so, you first need to define what your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is. This refers to
“a clear, common, objective definition of who the ideal buyers and users of your product are.”
A few important questions to ask yourself are:
Who are my ideal buyers?
What is this big problem that they need solved?
Why exactly does my business matter to them?
An ICP should be created based on the real customer data your business has acquired. If you don’t possess the same, you can alternatively use various characteristics such as behavioural indicators, and technographics. The former refers to a behaviour which can be observed in order to indicate the ‘presence of a particular competency’. Whereas, technographics profile, and identify, the behaviour of various customers through market segmentation.
Analyze results after conducting customer research
After you’ve identified your ideal customers, you need to interact with them in order to carefully note:
the problems they’re facing
what their buying processes typically look like,
and how you can tune your product to work for them.
In fact, it’s crucial for businesses, utilising brand positioning, to frequently interact with their customers. Statistically, companies investing in customer research are able to increase their revenue and enjoy business growth at a double, and even triple, rate than businesses who don’t.
Be aware of competitive alternatives
An important question to ask yourself is:
Which brands would my customers use if mine didn't exist?
As a business, you need to completely understand the comparisons being made between yourself, and alternative brands, by your customers. Customers primarily look for the products which suit them best, which in turn lead to conversions for ONE brand only. The goal during this step is not to draw comparisons by listing your competitors. In fact, what brands must do is consider alternative options which could potentially solve their customers’ problems. This will lead to growth insights from the customer research conducted.
What sets your brand apart?
What features do you have that your competitors don’t?
What are the capabilities you possess which your competitors don't’?
How is your brand different from the options you’re being contrasted with?
Why do people consider your product a ‘must-have’?
These are various important factors which need to be analysed in order to set yourself apart from your competitors, and term your brand ‘unique’. A beneficial way to do so is by conducting multiple product/market fit surveys; this allows you to receive feedback from people who’ve used your products/services.
Important questions to ask buyers during product market surveys would be:
How would you, as a customer, feel if our products no longer existed?
Why do you consider our products ‘must-haves’?
Who do you think most benefits from our products?
What are the key benefits you’re deriving from our products?
Identify the key values your brand offers to your target audience
Brands must focus on translating their unique capabilities, and features, into the value it provides their customers with. One way of doing so is by grouping the key values into various themes. As such, rather than merely listing your products/services, you can include what value it’s providing a customer with.
Locate who is most passionate about the value you’re offering
You need to identify who, within your target marketplace, cares, and resonates, most with the core values of your products. Once you’ve located this particular group, you can begin the segmentation process based on your discoveries.
Decide which market you’d like to win over
The final step inculcates deciding on the right context for the products/services you’re offering. This allows your target audience to better understand the value of your product. However, companies find it quite worrisome when a hyper-specific market is focused upon since it yields few potential buyers. And yet, this further helps brands to double down on their market resources whilst, allowing more efficient usage of the same.
3 ways to effectively position your brand
Depending on the situation of the market, here are three primary ways brands can effectively position themselves.
1. Focus on a singular segment within an existing marketplace
If you’re trying to enter a market which already has a clear leader, trying to dominate this leader is both incredibly difficult, and unwise for brands. Instead, what you could do is strive to understand what makes your product a more suitable fit for a sub-segment within the same market. You should ask yourself:
How can I serve buyers better than the current market leader?
What is the one particular role my product best fulfils?
2. Focus on a singular segment within an emerging marketplace
Alternatively, you might be entering a niche market which doesn’t have a clear leader. Once again, attempting to fulfil the role of the market leader yourself is extremely challenging. What you could instead do is win over a sub-segment, within this niche market, where the competition is guaranteed to be far lesser.
3. Identifying problems when creating an entirely new category
If you’re selling an exceedingly niche product, which has no market yet, you’d need to create an entirely new category. As such, you’ll be creating a new market rather than competing in a heavily crowded one. However, this task comes with its own challenges since buyers would be unaware of what problem you’re trying to resolve, and you’d need to begin by first marketing a problem, rather than solutions. Therefore, a brand would need to first create awareness and demand. In fact, if you’re a part of this category, you’d actually want to entice competitors to join your market since it legitimizes the marketplace for potential customers. And in time, after you’ve put in so much effort into establishing the market, it’ll be extremely hard for newcomers to take your place as the market leader.
What do we know now?
Brand positioning inherently focuses on what your brand is, why it is different from other brands, and why potential customers should care in the first place. By first understanding what brand positioning is and why it's so important for businesses, coupled with its benefits, you're able to effectively familiarise yourself with a very lucrative practise. Following which, the optimum practise for building a brand positioning strategy provides you with important insights, and guidance, into achieving the same for your business.