Brand positioning for startup businesses

Brand positioning for startup businesses
A lot of startup businesses fail woefully because they confuse branding for brand positioning. When the space your products/services occupy in the market is not known, such venture is bound to fail. Read on...

What is Branding?

Branding is about you catching the right attention, triggering the right emotions and getting the right response (or reactions) towards something – yourself, a product or a business entity. That’s simply what we try to achieve with every branding exercise.

What is Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is the clear definition of what makes you unique in the market place. It’s the place you create for your products/services to stay in the minds of people. This is not just a one-statement you write down somewhere, but a series of statements that help you define the entirety of who you are.

Now, you can’t have a positioning until you understand what is currently available around. Or else, you’ll be risking jumping into a position someone else has already owned. When Apple wanted to come up with their wrist watches, they did something! The looked around to see what others have been doing in that industry. And after series of research and brainstorming, they decided to come up with a product that does not only read time, but also reads heartbeat, foot steps made and several other health-related metrics outside time. That was Apple, trying to position their new product. Of course, they already had a brand. So, it wasn’t an issue of branding, but an issue of positioning.

What is a positioning statement?

A positioning statement is an internal document that guides your marketing and operations towards compliance with your uniqueness as a company. It simplifies why you are different from other competitors in the marketplace by clearly defining the unique value you’re offering to your target audience. It’s different from your tagline (which only serves external purposes).

Your positioning statement is taken from understanding these three parameters:

  1. Who your target audience really are.
  2. Who your competitors really are and how they seem to be positioned.
  3. Your points of uniqueness in delivering value to your target audience.
These three parameters involve real research and brain-storming. And they should, by every means, come before you even start any branding activity because, you can only express yourself accurately and strategically on the understanding of who you’re reaching out to and what they must have been seeing around before you came up.

Examples of brand positioning

BMW positions itself as a high-performance brand only for luxury-minded drivers. Toyota on the other hand, focuses more on becoming the most popular with customers through low-cost strategies. Now, if you observe, BMW vehicles are actually more expensive than Toyota vehicles, but no one ever goes to BMW and complains that they are too expensive.

That is one impact of positioning. It’s a communication of how you want people to perceive you differently from the rest. So, when they come around, they’re prepared for your terms. To bring it closer, you can’t visit a standard boutique around a G.R.A or somewhere in Lekki, Lagos and expect to have their prices as low as you would have them around Yaba, Lagos.

As a parent, there are some schools you will visit for the first time and just by entering through the gate and seeing stuff around, you’re already reasoning in your mind if you would be able to afford their tuition fee. That’s positioning.

How you position yourself will always determine the kind of audience you attract and ultimately, how you are priced. That is why, when doing competitive analysis, the truth is, not everybody doing what you do is your direct competitor. The question is, are they also appealing to the same audience you’re trying to appeal to? If they are not, then they are not worthy to be called direct competitors.

What really matters...

Now, is it really a problem when you are positioned as cheap and affordable to some set of people? Let’s say low or middle-class? Not at all! What matters are:

  1. Do you have the capacity to produce in large scale for large audience you’re serving?
  2. Do you have the ability to maintain your quality and standards in the face of demand rush?
  3. Can your price model sustain and scale the business for as long as possible?

If you can answer these questions satisfactorily, then whatever decision you make is up to you to stand with. However, never start branding yourself – creating unwanted perceptions and getting unwanted responses – until you have clearly defined how you seek to be positioned in the mind of your audience. And the only way to get this done is by starting with a research into what is already obtainable in your industry and how you can differentiate yourself.

You need to know and understand the obtainable in order to plan the remarkable. If you don't even know what exists, how will you be sure you're not just repeating what someone somewhere has already done (or said)?

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