“What is the difference between ‘positioning’, ‘differentiation’ and ‘brand’?
Positioning refers to where a company (or brand) sits in the marketplace in relation to its competitors. This is usually seen via a chart with an X & Y axis. Think about supermarkets and how they range from low cost / no frills through to up market operators such as Waitrose (in the UK).
If you looked at price versus service, the first type of supermarket would be bottom left and Waitrose would be top right.
Differentiation refers to the ways in which an enterprise or brand stands out from the crowd. Norwegian Airlines currently offers return flights from London to Los Angeles for a few hundred pounds on Boeing Dreamliner aircraft (which are relatively lightweight and fuel efficient). Therefore their key point of differentiation is price.
A brand is a promise. It is the offer that the enterprise holds out to the marketplace. For example, you always know that you can return goods to John Lewis (in the UK) and that they will not make a fuss.
Here is my 4 step marketing model:
1. Marketing plan
4. Selling / conversion (the latter is an ecommerce term)
If you have a clear strategy that is embodied with your marketing plan, things will go better for you. The plan would include your decisions on positioning, differentiation and brand, amongst other things.
Does all of this apply to services? The brief answer is that, yes, it does.
Website not working? This may well be to do with the lack of a marketing plan and the clear direction that it gives you with regards to positioning, differentiation etc.
Does integrity matter in marketing, or in business for that matter? Seeing this question from the customer’s perspective, they like to be treated well. If there is a problem, they want it resolved quickly. Companies can save money by cutting down on service levels, avoiding their responsibilities and controlling customer communications through the use of technology.
What effect does this have on their reputation? What happens when customers start to leave them in droves (a certain UK utility company comes to mind).
Integrity is part of a person’s character. The character of a company’s founder / owner is mirrored within their brand personality. Can you think of a famous person for whom this applies?
If you run a business or are responsible for marketing, take a moment and think about your values. What matters to you? What do you believe in? The answers to these questions will feed into your brand, website, social media campaigns, advertisements, printed matter and your entire promotional mix.
A recognisable brand name brings numerous benefits, including increasing the value of your business, attracting more customers and being able to charge higher prices.
Here are 7 ways to build your brand:
1. List your values – as great brands are built on strong values. This can be the values of the business owner or the combined values of the board of directors. Whatever they believe in will be reflected in the brand (and I’m really hoping that one of them is ‘integrity’).
2. Have a big idea behind your brand. Write this down and share it with everyone (i.e. staff, associates, suppliers, investors and family members).
3. Differentiate your business from the competition. This is worth thinking hard about. (If you’re struggling, I offer a creative thinking training which can be applied to your brand).
4. Work on your visual brand identity, including your logo, company colours and typography. It needs to look professional – so use an experienced graphic designer and it all needs to be consistent. Ensure that your logo is used everywhere (email signature, printed matter, social media accounts etc).
5. Create a handful of messages to associate with your brand. These should include a strapline.
6. Great brands don’t bore people to death. Think of novel ways to attract customer attention. Don’t do what everyone else does!
7. Choose your promotional mix and communicate, communicate, communicate. I’m often asked about this, as business owners and marketers can sometimes feel that they are communicating too much. Don’t worry about it – as it takes a huge amount of effort just to be noticed at all.
Bonus idea: use images – as a picture paints a thousand words. People remember images, long after they have forgotten what was said or read.
All businesses, no matter what size, should ‘think brand’. Here is a Mind Map (click to expand) which shows the key elements of branding. Scroll down to see a checklist, which explains what the branches mean.
Begin with a clear set of objectives for your brand. What does it stand for? What is the one word which you would like customers to associate with your brand? What short phrase sums up your brand and sets it apart from the crowd? The key issue is to differentiate your brand – which may not be easy if you are operating in a crowded marketplace. (If you have a startling new idea for a brand, then your challenge may be explaining it!)
Successful brands are built on strong values
If you are creating a brand, it will be built on your values. Write a list of your values and include them within your marketing plan.
Successful brands are underpinned by a central idea. What is the big idea which drives your brand? (If there is any difficulty in responding to this question – call me).
Do your products / services fit with your brand?
Are they aligned with your brand values? Do they support the brand or detract from it?
The customer journey
From initial encounter and awareness, to desire, purchase and advocacy – is there brand consistency? I am not just referring to your visual brand identity, I am talking about brand identity and character.
Visual brand identity
Are you using your logo, colours and typeface consistently? For example, I have used Arial for as long as I can remember. I use it within my website, blogs, emails and all of my printed matter.
Staff, colleagues, teams – do they get your brand?
Does everyone within your enterprise understand what your brand is all about? Gather them together and ask them to write down what your brand stands for. Compare the results. (Be prepared for a surprise). Incidentally, engaged staff create the best brands. (If you would like me to come over and do this exercise, you are welcome to contact me).
Is your promotional mix integrated? Does it all have a consistent look and feel or is it all over the place?
The human brain and branding
People love stories. What stories are there to tell about your brand? How are you getting these stories out there? People learn through experience – what kind of experience does your brand deliver? Above all, how does it make your customers feel?
An established brand is worth more money than a non-branded enterprise. Brands attract more customers and they deliver a higher level of profitability than their commodity cousins.
If you would like to talk to me about your marketing strategy and brand – by all means get in touch. This could be one of the most important and influential conversations you ever have about your business.
Nigel is a marketing consultant, author, speaker and trainer. He shows businesses how to get better results from 21st century marketing – starting with marketing strategy and brand positioning. He advises business owners, boards of directors and teams.
Nigel has taught marketing strategy since 1996. He has an honours degree in marketing and served as a Faculty Member and Course Director at CIM (the Chartered Institute of Marketing) for 12 years. He led over 500 Business Link workshops, focusing on marketing strategy and internet marketing. Today, he delivers marketing events for The Marketing Compass which provides impartial marketing advice for business owners.
Branding includes your visual identity, i.e. your logo, company colours and typeface. It also includes:
* The thickness of your business card
* How many times the phone rings, before a human being answers it
* How quick off the mark you are to respond to questions and enquiries
* Where you appear within Google organic search results
* The impression that your website gives, within the first 3 seconds of looking at it
* What people are saying about you in conversation and within the social media
* The number of times that your target markets hear / see your brand name
* The emotional reaction that occurs, when someone encounters your brand
* The ability of dormant, current & prospective customers to describe what you do
* The clarity of your brand proposition, positioning and identity
* The behaviour of the business owner, management and every member of staff
* The extent and depth of your promotional mix
* The stories that customers tell about you
* Your writing ability
* The images you use
* Your attention to detail
If you have a question about branding, you are welcome to ask me.