Three Things A Strong Brand Positioning Must Do

Kevin KeohaneSeptember 8, 20162 min

You need to focus your business. The decisions you make on what you want to focus your business on drive what you want your reputation in the market to be.

This should lead you to brand positioning – in other words, what you stand for and how you want to be perceived by all of your different stakeholders in all of the many different ways they will experience the things you say and do as an organization.

A strong brand positioning must simultaneously do three things. Your positioning must be:

  • Authentic. Your positioning must be an accurate and true reflection of your organization – what it believes in, what its culture and values are, how it really reacts in any given situation. Organizations that try to be something that they are not are generally unsuccessful – particularly in the era of social media and increased transparency and access to information by virtually all of your stakeholders regarding virtually every aspect of your organization’s operation, wherever it operates.
  • Relevant. In addition to being true, your positioning has to be relevant to the stakeholders you are seeking to influence. If what you are saying is not of interest or not aligned to the interests of those whom you seek to turn into advocates, it doesn’t matter how true or different your brand is – it just won’t matter to them.
  • Different. It might be true, it might be relevant, but it has to be different…and be different in a way that matters. Differentiation is where your value discipline generates a premium price or greater margin than your competitors.

There are many models and approaches to achieving a clear and differentiating brand positioning. The key is less about the techniques you employ and more about your intent: how honest, how disciplined, how united and how focused your organization is in genuinely answering the questions and challenging itself to overcome the many barriers that get in the way of a genuinely market-moving positioning.

What do you stand for? What do you want to be known for? Why should people buy from you, or want to come to work for you? Why would they pay more for what you do?

The answers to these questions bring your brand to life – and while a significant amount of the effort and investment in building and managing your reputation sits with the marketing function, a great deal more of it actually lives in the decisions being made in, and the operations of, virtually every other function in the business.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Kevin Keohane, excerpted from his book Brand and Talent, in partnership with Kogan Page publishing.

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