Caleb Owino

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 19:38

Setting your brand apart and staying ahead of the competition

Linda Nekesa is a quiet, free spirited doctor who likes to spend her free time gardening and listening to classical music. She also tends to be outgoing and extroverted other times and can be found out and about having a good time most weekends. Those close to her believe she will one day run her own business given her enterprising nature. Others, however, think Linda will most likely remain in formal employment at the hospital where she works as she is often very conservative and risk averse in her choices.

Linda is a bit of a confusing one, isn’t she? How can different people have such varying opinions of one person? It would be difficult trying to determine if you know the same Linda Nekesa if one person talks about her quiet nature, as another argues that she is, in fact, a feisty lady. And yet Linda’s multiple personality traits can be compared with many brands out there. There is a misguided notion among many over-eager brand managers that their offering should appeal to all people. It is certainly tempting to think that if one offers a product that appeals to a wide variety of audiences, then that will automatically result in a wider consumer base and the resulting profits that come with it. In reality, however, it is difficult to build brand loyalty and trust in a consumer if they are not too sure exactly what your product or service is superior at providing. Put simply, when they think of your brand, they are not sure what comes to mind first. It is difficult to build lasting confidence in the marketplace if at every turn you are showing a different “face”. A brand that communicates constantly changing messages misses the opportunity to firmly cement a position in the mind of a consumer. Positioning is a vital aspect for any brand to take into serious consideration.

Positioning refers to a brand’s ability to occupy a strategic place in the mind of the consumer. This enables brands to have a competitive edge. When you own a position in the market, it becomes an uphill task for any other brand to ever claim it. The catch, therefore, is to ensure that you are the first to claim the position. If you are number two, it would be best to identify another benefit that you would like people to conjure up when they think of your brand. Attempting to steal another well-known brand’s position might be akin to any musical artiste claiming they are the king of pop. It’s too late- Michael Jackson firmly rooted himself there years ago! You do not want to be viewed as unauthentic or a copycat.

So how can brands position themselves? There are several ways. A brand can position itself based on size e.g. the biggest or largest in the market. Positioning based on price is another option. Some brands are loved because they are the most affordable in their product range, while other brands are famous because they are the most expensive. High price is a position held by brands such as Rolex and Mercedes Benz. Other positioning statements can be based on quality, age, the time of day when your product is consumed and even gender. The trick is to find that benefit that your brand offers like no other in the market and relentlessly reinforce that image in your consumer’s mind. This can be through brand communications in the media and in the way consumers experience your product or service. It is important that in choosing a benefit to cement in your consumer’s mind, you choose one that you want to embrace over the long haul. It is dangerous to try and change the way in which consumers see the brand, especially if it has held a specific position in their minds for a very long time - for example Gucci cannot start an economy brand. People buy Gucci because they want to be seen as prestigious. If Gucci becomes affordable for every Jane, Alice and Ruth, it would lose out on the critical upmarket customer that buys the brand to stand apart from the crowd.

Positioning affords brands the immense advantage that comes with focusing of skills and abilities. It can allow the brand to do away with activities that do nothing to build its market share. And what better way to become the best in the market than to narrowly focus on, and relentlessly pursue, that which the organisation is most excellent at. The power of focus, which is what positioning demands, is what ultimately sets great brands apart from mediocre ones, ensuring their place in the market for generations to come.

Article by Anita Acon an Account Executive at fireworks Advertising (U) ltd

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