Welcome to 2015! We are going to usher in the new year with a few of Austin’s thought on effectively communication your Position. Let’s dive in with a lesson on keeping it real.
People don’t deal well with concepts. They prefer reality. Brand positioning is a good thing so long as it isn’t entirely conceptual. Instead, a brand position must be real, and it must be brought to life through the product or service itself. If there are multiple products under a brand umbrella, find the catalyst- the one that best exemplifies the position and makes it real to the audience.
All this is especially true if you want to change the way people see you. Yeah, maybe you can convince them you’ve changed just by telling them so, but wouldn’t you be more certain of their response if you could present some evidence?
When Oldsmobile told you it was “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile,” the unspoken response was “Um…yeah, it actually is.” Oldsmobile had a catchy line, a good communication strategy, but didn’t have a product to back up its claims. Cadillac, on the other hand, didn’t need to say a whole lot about its new and younger outlook. It simply showed you the Escalade and- perhaps just as important- who was driving it.
Consider these additional examples:
-Target doesn’t claim to be hip. It just is. No amount of claiming to be chic can substitute for real-life presence of top designers and brands in its stores.
-Sun Microsystems may have been “the dot in dot com,” but it was the Java programming language that brought the company’s Internet-centricity to life, getting Sun into thousands of offices where it was subsequently able to sell a lot of profitable servers.
-You can say you’re in the entertainment business and that intuitive design is important to you. Or you can be Apple and simply introduce the iPod. And then follow it up with the iPhone.
-Motorola called itself Moto and tried to act very, very hip, but it didn’t work until the company launched the Razr. (Unfortunately, although the phone looked great, it didn’t work well, so success was fleeting.)
Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a real product or service that brings strategy to life is worth millions of marketing communications dollars.
The recent increase in ‘environmental branding’ is a testimony to the benefits of keeping it real. Niketown, Levi’s, Disney and Apple stores are all great examples of a brand being brought to life in a controlled retail experience. ‘Pop-up stores’ can also showcase a brand for the same purpose. That purpose, that focus, is almost entirely on creating a great brand experience.
So keep it real. Never forget that a real product and a real brand experience are generally worth more than all the words you write and all the marketing communication money you spend.
Austin McGhie is head of Sterling Strategy