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Positioning with a 'C'

I’ve always thought of positioning as something you do to a brand. For me, the verb is better than the noun.

So if I’m looking for checks to apply or responses to explore, I try to think in terms of adverbs. For some reason, they all begin with a ‘C’.

But I can never decide which is the most important.

Often I reckon it’s clearly. To be clear, you have to be clear on your target. You are trying to position your brand in their minds, so you need to have a particular type of person in yours.

You also need to position a brand competitively. All positioning is relative, so who are you up against? Can you reposition them in people’s minds, use their strength as a weakness?

It then comes down to making a promise and you want to do that compellingly. That’s only going to happen if you’ve found some kind of insight. Something about what your target needs or wants. Something with a tension that your brand could potentially resolve. Which is what you’re going to do for them. And make sure you promise them a benefit, functional or emotional. Best is both. They should be linked.

It helps, of course, if you come across credibly. The reason people should believe you. A certain feature of your product or service. A certain aspect of your story. A difference that makes the difference.

You also want to do it convincingly. So take a position. Make a stand. Demonstrate your values. Whether the opportunity is to be purpose-driven or not, have a sense of purpose.

Then again, everything above will be a complete waste of time if no one notices. So you have to position a brand conspicuously. Look for the highground. Remember, it’s all about being remembered. So use the assets that make your brand memorable, especially your brand’s name.

And don’t forget the soft stuff, not just what you say but how you say it. Your brand’s personality.

Which leaves one thing. You have to sum it all up concisely. If you don’t, I’m sorry but your lovingly-crafted but over-written brand model will wither and die the moment it leaves your desktop.

So once the brand model’s written, write a 50-word version. Then rewrite it. Live with it for a while. Get other people to read it. Test it with your target. Rewrite it again. When you’re happy, go with it.

It took me a good while to write the following:

“If you believe, like we do, that brands have to make an emotional connection with people, we can help move your target closer to your brand. We’ll do this by discovering an insight into their deeper needs that your brand can exploit and by moving you and them closer together.”

There we go. Position brands clearly, competitively, compellingly, credibly, convincingly, conspicuously and concisely. I could call it the Seven C’s.

Except Cutlip and Center came up with the ‘Seven C’s of Communication’ way back in 1952.

How about the Five C’s? No, Unilever unveiled their ‘Five C’s of Marketing’ last year.

Three, then. But the three traditional tests of positioning have always been ‘Customer, Company and Competition’. What is it about C’s?

So it has to be one.


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