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How To Use Brand Positioning To Future-proof Your Business

Map pin.jpgJay Gould is a noted businessman, a turnaround specialist who takes on troubled business lines and brings them back to profitability. He’s worked his magic at Newell Rubbermaid, Graco, Pepperidge Farm and, most recently, at American Standard. Gould is first to say that his successes come, in large part, from “viewing all … decisions through the Brand Lens”. What is the Brand Lens? It is the lens through which you view your brand positioning. It’s nothing less than a vital management tool that helps you make the correct strategic decisions – every time. Use it to “future-proof” your business.

The Brand Lens is the vantage you get by asking how each management decision you make will affect your brand. Imagine your company is facing a significant strategic decision. You’ll have a lot of tools to help you make that decision. These may include financial models, operational considerations, etc. But before you pull the trigger on the deal, take a moment to view the choice through your Brand Lens. Ask yourself if saying yes or no to the decision will help you keep your brand promise or if it will contribute to a drift away from that commitment.

The prime directive of any business is to keep its brand promise, at any cost. Therefore, any decision that dilutes one’s ability to keep it, or distracts from it, or hinders management, in any way, from keeping it, is a bad decision. Any decision resulting in a renewed commitment to keeping the brand promise, or to doing a better job of keeping it, is, of course, a good decision. Sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?

Yet, every day, businesses of all sorts and sizes make important strategic decisions without ever taking into consideration how the moves will affect their brand positioning vis a vis the competition. Companies merge. Manufacturing is relocated. New lines of products are launched. All without taking brand value into consideration. It’s no wonder so many businesses are so badly branded and, as such, fail to take advantage of the many benefits that a strong brand positioning delivers. No wonder so many are floundering – marketing in the dark. No wonder so many fail to achieve their full, potential value.

The Brand Lens is often underestimated as a management tool precisely because it is so easy to employ. But don’t be fooled. It has an unmatched record of pointing out the right decision in any given circumstance. But how?

Magnifying lens.jpgThe neat trick of the Brand Lens is it gives the decision-maker a shortcut right back to earlier strategic deliberations when the purpose of the business was being hammered out – back to considerations of the mission statement, the positioning statement, the value proposition, etc. The Brand Lens forces the decision-maker to reconsider whether any of those statements are still true, and to weigh the current decision in that context.

Managers sometimes dismiss the Brand Lens because it focuses on realities they aren’t prepared to address. But, when a manager ignores the truth in favor of his/her own preconceived biases … well, that’s a bad manager. Don’t be a bad manager.

It’s been said that Steve Jobs really hated the words “branding” and “marketing”. Because he believed those functions should not be segregated from the rest of the company but, rather, they should permeate every aspect of the business and, literally, be built into the product. Thus, his obsession with design, user friendliness and customer experience. And it may seem ironic but, actually, it is because of his approach, that Apple is unsurpassed in branding and marketing. Apple is a perfect example of a company that thinks about, and lives up to, its brand promise – every day and in every department.

Apple, FedEx, Amazon, Target, McDonalds, Nike, Starbucks. These are all businesses that put their brand positioning at the front and center of everything they do. They never make a decision without, first, viewing it through the Brand Lens. They’ve insulated themselves, as much as possible, from making dumb strategic mistakes. And, one more thing you might notice … they’re all market leaders.

Best Branding Reads – Week of January 2, 2017

Brands Must Increase Certainty In Uneasy Times
So true! Is your market receiving your brand promise – loud and clear?

7-Eleven Completes 77 Successful Drone Deliveries to US Homes
Drone-delivered donuts? So quickly does the fantastic become routine and then banal.

3 Disruptive Shifts Require Brands To Think Different
A great article for marketers like you to begin your new year.

The State of Brand Strategy – Branding Roundtable No. 27
A bracing discussion of brand strategy. Not sure I’d agree with all of it.

The evolution of one of the world’s most instantly recognized brands
Mastercard visual identity refresh – IMHO, the best of 2016

7 maps that will change how you see the world
If you’re a total map junkie like me, you’ll love this. 

The Push For Brands To Serve A Higher Purpose
It is purpose that drives growth – not mission.

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