Lately, I've spent a lot of time working with a client who spent the majority of their marketing budget on branding. Branding is the old mainstay of marketing, where name recognition is key to producing leads and returning customers. But, in my opinion (as you probably guessed from the title), relying on branding as your primary marketing strategy is wrong. Here's a new take on the concept, brought to you by the recent holidays.
What is Branding?
It's like sitting down to a magnificent feast. There's a golden, crispy, luscious 12 lb turkey; A spread of all the holiday essentials- like stuffing. I love stuffing. It all looks so good, sitting there in front of you. It's so visually appealing.
Then you load up your plate, and take that first bite...
and it has no taste.
It's a confusing prospect, right? You know that there's supposed to be flavor and texture to what you're eating, but it's just lumps of mash in your mouth.
If you use branding as your primary marketing strategy, this is same thing you're doing to your customers. Branding is just like that holiday spread of food. It's visually appealing, elegant, and appeals to the viewer on a very basic level.
Well, Then What is Positioning?
To best "consume" branding, there has to be a history of consistently reliable claims. This is positioning. Your mouth starts watering when you smell your favorite food. This is because you remember what it tastes like from the other times you partook. It's exactly the same when you're developing a brand. Potential customers must have an understanding of the "flavors" behind your brand name, and the products that you are creating. Positioning is the act of placing your product.
Consider Gatorade. When most people identify what Gatorade is, they don't just say "a sports drink". Instead, we consider Gatorade in the perspective of top-performing athletes, their many athletic sponsorships, fulfilling replenishment, and the icy-cold satisfaction of slamming drinks onto sound-stage table tops. It's impossible to think of the Gatorade brand without considering the decades of advertisements and positioning.
How Does This Relate To Your Customers?
Understanding the difference between branding and positioning is integral knowledge for any marketer today. There is a good chance that you're already positioning your clients, but just hadn't heard the specific idea behind the principle. If your marketing goal is to develop a recognizable brand name, then it's not possible to ignore positioning tactics. In the case of the client I mentioned at the beginning, we have turned their primary focus away from branding, and have instead begun to focus on content creation for brand identification. By "filling out" your clients' presence in the marketplace, you begin to slowly gain traction as a brand name.
Show how your product is better. Show how your service or expertise is greater than the competition. That's how you develop a definitive brand name, and thereby garner the trust of prospective clients.