I t’s the compass that holds your position in the ocean you sail, and the clarion call that brings your customers to your door. People just love brands. Whether it’s a Swiss watch, Italian clothes, German car, French perfume, American golf clubs or designer sports clothing (how about surfing gear for people that don't actually surf), people just love brands.
But here's the big deal. Your brand is not just a fancy name; your brand serves a vital purpose. Your brand defines your customer’s position within their demographic. Why? Because, you were smart by defining it for them when you created your brand’s positioning statement.
Yep, when you clearly define your positioning you achieve two things: you declare exactly the type customer you want and when they buy your brand, you give them the reassurance they’ve done the right thing; they feel comfortable; they’ve bought your brand.
Think about it. Why do people gather in wine bars wearing Joules eventing gear? Are they off to the races? Nope. Why does the guy on the first tee think he can out-drive his opposition with his new Calloway driver? Is his swing any better? No way José. Why has the lady in the little black dress donned the Chanel No 5 ‘cloak of hope’? Is she any more attractive (better not answer that…)? The reason is they feel comfortable. They’ve bought into your brand and they’re confidently telling the world ‘I’ve bought a better version of myself!’
Their famous mantra is ‘When the world zigs, zag’ which, for those of us who didn’t see their 1982 Black Sheep Levi advertisement roughly translates as, ‘don’t follow the herd (in this case ‘flock’) create a difference’.
And creating a difference is what branding is all about. It’s the difference that means, instead of competing on price, you define a unique positioning which means you can rise above the competition and smash your targets unchallenged. It’s the difference that means, rather than be compared to your competitors, your clients compare the competition to you. It also means you create loyalty from your clients which is worth its weight in gold.
So how do we join the dots? Branding and positioning go hand in hand. In fact, if you want to be perceived as unique or make a difference in your chosen marketplace, they’re pretty much joined at the hip. There is, however, one important point you need to remember. Don’t confuse your current market position with your positioning. Here’s why.
In 1997 American marketing guru Harry Beckwith famously defined our statement of position and our positioning statement for us:
‘ A statement of position is a cold-hearted, no-nonsense statement of how you are perceived in the minds of your clients. It IS your position‘.
‘A positioning statement, by contrast, states how you wish to be perceived by your future clients. It’s the core message you want to deliver in every medium, elevator ads, airport waiting areas and social media.’
In other words, your positioning statement lets your clients know who you are, what business your in, what type of clients you want, what unique benefits your clients will get and what makes you more desirable than the competition.
Top this off with the instantly visual recognition of your brand logo and WHAM! You’ve just made it easy for your next batch of clients to buy from you.
Nope, it’s not as easy as that.
It takes time, effort and plenty of cash to create a commercially successful brand. But when it works, it works! Brands are what people want and a brand’s role in positioning your business is key to your success. To illustrate, here’s a brilliant example of a brand that has successfully positioned itself at the top of peoples’ must have list – Superdry.
Superdry was established by Ian Hibbs and Julian Dunkerton in 1985, at which time their company was trading as 'Cult Clothing'. During this period, Dunkerton met James Holder who at the time was running the skate wear brand 'Bench'. In 2003, they joined forces to found Superdry, opening its first store in Covent Garden in London in 2004.
Superdry's positioning, in the eyes of its future customers, is a combination of vintage Americana styling with Japanese inspired graphics. The company today is listed globally on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Superdry knows what it's doing. All the way from Cheltenham, Gloucester, England.
So maybe Sir John Hegarty was right all along? ‘Don’t start a business, build a brand‘