Branding is Positioning
Effectively branding your brand means that you are effectively positioning it to your target audience in two ways:
1) Your brand is different from your competitors, and
2) That difference is established in a memorable way.
In 1983 Theodore Levitt, an award-winning Harvard Business School professor and American economist, said, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.” He also proposed that, “rather than making money, [corporate purpose] is to create and keep a customer.”
How do you position your brand in a different, memorable way? With a positioning statement. This is a succinct, memorable message that identifies the unique benefits that are derived from using your company’s product or service over a competitor’s. It is a declaration of your company’s exclusive standing within the marketplace. Scientifically, positioning statements are proven to work because of the cognitive behavior of human beings—specifically, due to an attribute of the mind called anchoring.
How does this work? Every day, we are inundated with thousands of advertising messages. Most of us go out of our way to block out those messages. Words like cheapest, professionalism, service, quality, speedy, convenient, and best do absolutely nothing to communicate why your business is different than your competitors. They’re so overused that they leave absolutely no impression on us anymore.
Your mind handles the barrage of advertising it receives by picking something to believe and then holding that belief unless it is forced to change. It is actually uncomfortable and difficult to change our convictions once they are formed. We all form what are called “snap judgments,” and snap judgments become permanent opinions. Our minds then filter out new information that doesn’t support the beliefs that we already hold. By establishing your positioning statement in your target audiences’ minds, you give them a positive belief, or anchor, to hold onto. They will keep this belief unless their opinion is forced to change.
What are some things that could force a customer to change their mind about your company? What’s the best way to keep many of those issues from happening? Or, because issues do happen, perhaps a better question is: What keeps customers from changing their perception of your company even when issues occur?
In a later segment, we will delve into the importance of creating the right company culture so that, regardless of what problems do occur, it will be very unlikely for customers to change the positive anchor they have of your company.