...National Geographic might go out of business.
It's a shame because National Geographic is one of my favorite brands. It makes it worse that all of my other favorite brands, like Lipton's and Campbell's Soup are also on the hook. And it's even more disappointing because each brand has it within their power to prevent their demise.
What am I talking about, right? Those brands aren't bankrupt or permanently shuttering their doors, right? In a literal way, no. But all of these brands have the potential of becoming obsolete. And unless you're following these brand positioning tips, your brand is at risk, too. Because now, branding is more than a glossy label, catchy tagline, and long-lasting reputation. Branding is the entire customer experience, their perception of you, and your place in the market.
It's not enough that your customer has always used your tea, binged your nature content, or relied on your product to make their business function. You need more. And if you’re not ready or capable of doing that, there’s a hungrier, more motivated business owner in your area of expertise who will.
The Brand Positioning Strategy Tips You Need To Follow
However, as difficult as this seems, a lot of brands are positioning their brands very well. And it can all start with a few brand positioning strategy tips. This strategy is critical for successful branding, as it informs everything that you do, including your product, marketing, sales, and customer support initiatives. A successful strategy will help you differentiate you from your competition and ultimately, gain your customer’s trust.
Then, with the right approach, you can outpace even the most influential of competitors and start experiencing real results.
Here are a few tips based on what some of the best brands are doing:
Step 1: Employing The 2-Axis Quadrant
I love my iPhone X. I love using it to listen to the Avett Brothers while I empty the dishwasher, or being able to take high-resolution photos for my blog. However, those features are also the cause of the hefty price tag of Apple products. According to The Harvard Business Review, advanced features such as these account for 68% of the variation in prices of cell phones.
As I’m sure you know, the high price tag isn’t a problem for Apple. Their brand positioning is for high-quality, high-priced products. The people that want to download Slack, access Google Drive, or live stream videos of their cats love Apple because their phone will hold battery longer, take better photos, and have a ton of storage. The consumers who don’t need those features aren’t necessarily Apple customers and are comfortable relying on lower-priced, more cost-effective phones.
Now, let’s say that Apple decided they wanted to phones to those people too, and abruptly dropped their prices. The phone would be cheaper, but loyal customers probably wouldn’t find the phones and computers as valuable. Apple already uses the high price tag to promise high quality. If you take away the price tag, the quality goes too, right?
However, for brands such as Honda, Southwest, and Amazon, lower prices are exciting and welcomed. But their brands are built from promises of affordability and predictability and have been from the beginning. That’s why determining the rate and quality balance of your product or service up front is critical.
Right away, you want to figure out how much your target customer makes, and how much they’re willing to spend. With those insights, you can begin to tailor your brand positioning to support whichever pricing tier you choose.
Step 2: Be A Purple Cow
"If you’re remarkable,” Godin says. “It’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise–ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.”
It reminds me of the rise of electric scooters. I’m not a fan, having encountered them buzzing up and down city streets and through crowds of people. And I’m not alone. A lot of people, including city governments, are hesitant to bring in the scooters, citing public safety hazards and regulation challenges. But despite the outcry, the scooters cometh.
They’re a bold, abrasive product that caters to a specific niche. The scooters solve a problem that a chunk of city dwellers have at an affordable price. And the scooter companies spend less on advertising, due to the backlash, regulatory complications, and news coverage surrounding the scooter movement.
Step 3: Find A Blue Ocean
When I was in college, the iPod came out. I remember huddling with a few people from my dorm, comparing our blue and pink iPods, and scanning through our song libraries. And of course, with iPods, the easiest way to get music was to buy it from iTunes. At first, there was resistance. We were crafty and found backward ways to add songs we already had from illegal streaming sites like Napster and Limewire.
Eventually, the convenience of iTunes, along with some urban legends of FBI agents busting into dorm rooms and confiscating computers with illegal downloads, overcame the initial pushback. Today, it’s difficult and inconvenient to download illegal music, movies, or television shows at all, not to mention unethical.
iTunes is an example of the blue ocean strategy, a tactic that’s all about value innovation. With the blue ocean strategy, you’re not beating your competitors. You’re making them irrelevant. If iTunes had provided the same shady service as illicit streaming sites, it might not have been as poignant. Instead, iTunes provided features and benefits that far surpassed anything Napster or Limewire were doing. We’ve seen this happen with Uber and Lyft, changing the taxi industry forever.
When you find a product or service that has the same ripple effect, that goes beyond your industry and also changes society as a whole, you’ve got something powerful and potent. There’s potential for profitable, long-lasting growth.
Step 4: Find Your Market Position
A few weeks ago, I read an article in The New Yorker about a specialty mattress store in Manhattan. It’s a speakeasy for mattresses, where you have to make an appointment to even look at them. Once you’re there, the owner personally guides you through his selections, making recommendations based on your sleep patterns and preferences. But the mattress cost around $4,000.
While it’s a novel, sophisticated concept, it’s not for everyone. Not every consumer needs a personalized mattress buying experience. That’s why additional options like online mattress buying are so appealing. Because companies like Purple, Casper, etc., aren’t necessarily promising to be cheaper or better. They’re only promising to be a good, reliable choice. But sometimes, that’s all you need.
It’s all about finding the right market position. When you don’t have to be the most expensive, the fastest, or the biggest, you can focus on being good at what you do. You can be affordable, but not cheap.
The Key To Brand Positioning
Now, an incredible brand positioning strategy isn’t the only thing you need to be successful. You need to put it into practice with marketing, sales, and customer experience initiatives. It’s similar to building a relationship with another person. There needs to be a strong, memorable first impression, followed by consistent relationship building tactics to gain their trust. When put into practice, it’s a lot less robotic that I’m making it sound, and can be a gratifying experience for both parties. That’s why the brands that take this extra step are winning.