Finding your sweet spot

Finding your sweet spot

There are lots of important factors that are necessary for building a successful brand. I like to think of it as your brand arsenal:

  • passion
  • a clear purpose
  • a great product or service
  • a deep understanding of your audience
  • an ownable market position
  • strong articulation of your value proposition
  • a strong identity
  • and consistency across your entire brand platform and marketing activities.

In this blog I’m going to focus on ‘an ownable market position’, or, positioning. And this happens to be one of the most powerful tools you have.

Wikipedia’s explanation of positioning is nice and simple: Positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the mind of the customer and how it is distinguished from other products or competitors.

It would be fair to say that the holy grail is to find a position in your industry that no other brand occupies and own the heck out of it. But the reality is that unless you’ve invented some amazing new product or service the world has never seen before, there’s going to be cross-over with your competition.

It’s about communicating the things you offer that add value to your audience in a way that has meaning to them personally.

With positioning, what you do doesn’t have to be unique, but what you say does.

While all the components of your brand arsenal work together, there are a couple that are particularly important to positioning:

  • a clear purpose
  •  a deep understanding of your audience

Purpose is a precursor

You need have a good grasp of your organisational purpose because there is an intersection between purpose and positioning. Purpose is what’s at the very core of your organisation, your why or reason for being. Positioning is what connects that core with your audience in a way that has relevance and meaning to them.

Understand your audience
This is super important. You need to know as much as you possibly can about your audience so you can position your brand in a way that has meaning to them. There’s no point in developing a beautiful brand platform and great key messages if it doesn’t resonate.

It’s also important to have a good understanding of your competitors. Knowing what they are saying and how they are positioning their brands will help you eke out your own place in market. Looking like a copy-cat (even if accidentally) will do you no favours.

A sensational example of a brand that has a clear purpose, deep understanding of its audience and an ownable market position is iconic Kiwi company, Icebreaker. When founder Jeremy Moon entered the market with his Merino clothing line in 1995 he was certainly not the only outdoor apparel manufacturer. At the time, the market was very dialled into synthetic outdoor clothing such as polypropylene and wool was a scratchy fabric your school jumper was made from.

Yes, Icebreaker offered a product that was different and proved itself to be far superior to what was popular at the time, but there were very strong perceptions that first had to be changed to get this product across the line.

A clear purpose
From the beginning, Icebreaker had a clear purpose, which was to connect people to nature, wearing a product from nature. In an excerpt from the Icebreaker brand story, founder Jeremy Moon says “Our purpose was simple and phrased as a question: how can we offer people a natural alternative to synthetic outdoor apparel? Soon a bigger opportunity emerged: how can we disrupt the outdoor industry from unsustainable petrochemicals to more sustainable, nature-based solutions?”

A deep understanding of its audience
Icebreaker understood its audience and what was important to them, its product identified with the audience’s ideals and it crafted the words to connect its purpose and product to the audience’s needs.

An ownable position
Success was a result of the way Jeremy and his team positioned Icebreaker. “Icebreaker means ice-breaking. On one level it means staying warm, but our underlying meaning is about breaking the ice - new ideas and new relationships – between people and nature, and between natural fibres and your body.”

Now after more than 20 years, Icebreaker is sold in over 40 countries around the world and is at the forefront of the outdoor clothing industry. It has evolved and grown significantly but the brand fundamentals remain deeply embedded.

Do you need to look at your brand’s positioning?
If you’re in a position where you’re finding it hard to achieve growth or cut through, if there are lots of exciting new entrants to your market or you’re losing market share, then it’s very likely you need to look at your positioning. It’s one of the biggest contributors to a brand’s success and seriously the best use of your marketing dollars. Once you have positioning right, the actions you need to take next (recrafting key messages, refresh your brand identity etc) will become much clearer.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about key messaging – an important vehicle for conveying your brand’s positioning.