Authenticity is key to profitability in the current consumer marketplace. Today’s customers don’t want the hard sell. They want information and solutions that speak to them and an experience that feels real. Successful brand positioning creates that experience and solidifies the brand as a solution the customer will return to again and again.
A vast majority of companies struggle with making those connections, however, because they’ve removed brand positioning from the C-suite’s domain. When positioning is driven by marketing and product development instead of by an organization’s thought leaders, the overall brand message gets lost. The conversation between the company and potential customers changes from solving the customer’s problem to selling the company’s product or service. Customers feel unappreciated, undervalued and underserved, and market share declines.
Reclaiming brand positioning as a C-suite executive
Effective brand positioning is about answering two questions clearly:
- How do you differentiate your brand in a way that matters to your target audience?
- How do you highlight what’s great about your brand authentically rather than promotionally?
Following these five simple steps can help c-suite leaders answer those questions, reclaim their brands, and reposition their companies for growth:
- Figure out the problem your product or service was created to solve.
- Identify the customer best served by that solution.
- Understand how your target market thinks about that problem and prefers to solve it.
- Be clear about how your product or service solves your target market’s problem.
- Find authentic ways to tell stories about solving that problem in a language your customer understands.
Step five should take up the least amount of time. Talking about the company’s solution is only 10 percent of brand positioning. The other 90 percent is about understanding the target audience and making adjustments to ensure the company is continuing to serve that market. When the marketing department is in control of brand positioning, instead of the C-suite, that split gets flipped, and selling the product becomes the company’s main focus. CEOs who reclaim brand positioning have the opportunity to fix this.
Disney’s CEO, for example, recently announced a major shift in company strategy that indicates the C-suite is regaining control of the brand’s positioning and turning the company’s attention back to its target market. To better serve its customers in an era when the majority of viewers want to stream their favorite shows instead of watching live TV, Disney has unveiled two new online services that will compete with Netflix and other streaming providers to deliver the company’s highly popular children’s and sports entertainment programming in a method that meets its customers’ needs.
“No one is better positioned to lead the industry into this dynamic new era,” Disney’s CEO Robert A. Iger told the New York Times.
Effective brand positioning translates into higher profits
Companies that know how to effectively position their brands are able to extract more value from the market. They have a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs and what it takes to fill those needs, which means they can charge premier prices and still capture more of the overall market.
A good product or service that is well positioned will sell itself organically. Satisfied customers then become the organization’s most effective sales force. A majority of new business starts to come from referrals, and the company quickly becomes an industry leader.