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Anchor Your Brand With A Formal Positioning Statement

November 5, 2018

stake-your-claimEvery marketable thing needs to find a market to love it. The ideal is to create love affairs such as the romance between Apple and Apple devotees, or between bikers and Harley Davidson, or between Lego and children everywhere. This is brand loyalty on steroids. To do this, one must identify, make and keep a brand promise that never fails to delight. And that requires careful positioning. The world is full of other brands, competing, commanding attention, cluttering up the minds of buyers. In such a world, no brand can succeed for long if it is not positioned in a way that maximizes its attractiveness to its best prospective customers while also putting its competition at a disadvantage. Proper positioning takes some effort. No one person can be in command of all the competing narratives in the world, so you can’t just trust your instincts alone. Every brand needs a formal positioning statement.

The beauty of writing a formal positioning statement for your brand asset is it compels you to do the work that leads up to and informs the statement. That is, you have to make a real business case for positioning your brand in a certain way relative to your competition. In doing so, you’ll have to take a sober look at your products and/or services, your customers’ experiences, your competitive environment and your own internal values. It’s important to study all these facets of your business because only by doing so can you begin to understand what your brand looks like to the outside world – your market. Only then will you know how it should be perceived in order to maximize growth and revenue – and minimize competition.

A good positioning statement describes how you want your market to perceive you. Actually, it’s more accurate to say it describes how you want your market to feel about you. Purchases, of any sort, of any size, are driven by emotions. So, before you can define your brand, you have to be aware of what kinds of emotional factors will drive someone to purchase from you. In B2B situations, fear and pride are two emotions that often drive purchasing decisions. Fear of making the wrong decision. Pride in making the right choice and adding value to the company. But there are usually other emotional factors in play as well. In the B2C world, any number of emotions can drive sales. How does one determine which emotions are going to drive sales for your particular brand? Ask. 

Ask how Boardwalk can develop a successful 
positioning statement for your business.


At Boardwalk, we begin by defining the brand’s market. Markets are made up of constituencies. We define constituencies as any group whose perception of a brand is important to its future. So customers, obviously, are one constituency. So are employees, prospective employees, vendors, financiers, competitors, regulatory agencies and the press. There will be a different group of constituencies for every brand. Once identified, we pull a representative sampling from each group and conduct in-person interviews with them. We want to know about their dealings with the brand. We’re looking for themes, patterns, common threads that hold true across all the constituencies. When we find them we mark them as solid truths – actionable insights – about the brand.

At the same time, we conduct a survey of the competitive landscape. We examine what approaches the competition is taking to branding. We note their strengths and weaknesses. We recognize how competing businesses are positioning themselves – where they are staking their claim. We identify whatever territory they leave open for exploitation.

When it comes time to gather up and analyze all our findings, it gradually becomes clear where the opportunities lie for our client. We can see, fairly quickly, what differentiates our client from the competition. More importantly, when presented with our findings, our client gains absolute clarity on how the brand needs to be positioned, identified and marketed. It only remains to then write up the formal positioning statement.

A strong positioning statement makes a brand promise – a unique, differentiating promise that only the brand in question can keep. We’ve written about the brand promise in detail elsewhere on this blog. Every brand promise should be characterized by the eight following qualities.

          •  Proprietary
            Authentic
            Aspirational
            Achievable
            Focused
            Consistent
            Sustainable
            Simple

It’s important that positioning explorations are completed before any kind of identity work is begun. The brand’s positioning will lead to a better brand name, a more expressive logo, a more apt visual identity, more on-target marketing communication tools, etc. For best results, first, position the brand. Then identify it. Then communicate it. When done in this way, the messaging will go to the right market in the way the brand’s best customers want to be approached. They will be open to allowing the brand into their lives. They will be ready to receive and trust the brand’s marketing message.

Best Branding Reads – Week of November 5, 2018

Fast Company Innovation Festival 2018: Session Highlights
Some fascinating insights on the power and responsibility of brands

All Brands Are Personal
It does us well to remember that businesses and markets are all made up of people.

The Future Belongs To Brands That Connect Ideas
Want to think outside the box? Get out of your box.

Mark Ritson: Byron Sharp is wrong – of course brand perceptions influence sales
Wow. A real beef about branding philosophies. Who would have guessed?

OKC Thunder City Edition Unis
As the designer says in the video: Pretty compelling.

New Logo and Packaging for Fyne Ales
Agree with writer that this is an excellent solution. I also like it because the new mark is much easier to read, giving a boutique brand a leg up.

Converse finally designs winter-proof Chuck Taylors
To be honest, I think they’re kinda going off brand with this.

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Best Branding Reads
Week of December 10, 2018

Why Brands Are Crucial To Innovation
A fascinating and compelling reversal of the adage: Innovation is crucial to brands

Brands once used elitism to market themselves. Now inclusion sells.
Exclusion still works for very high-end luxury experiences.

No more Mr. Nice Guy: why every brand needs an enemy
V-e-r-r-r-y interesting, Mr. Bond.

How B2B Brands Succeed With Thought Leadership
“But only when … others can benefit…”. That’s the key.

Queen logo: Who designed it and what does it mean?
Never knew they even had a logo. Guess I’m just a casual fan.

New Logo for Drinkworks
In the future, every household will have a robotic bartender that will have “the usual” waiting for you when you get home. 

How this veteran’s company found profits in Trump-era patriotism and polarization
“Polarizing topics create brands.” says the entrepreneur.  How I wish this wasn’t true.

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