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The Power of 3 Words
First words on the subjects goes to Branding expert and author Jack Trout who advocates the simplest brand positioning strategy possible. He believes that the best and most successful brands occupy very specific positions in consumers minds, and those positions can be translated into a brand positioning statement of no more than three words. He wrote a post on Branding Strategy Insider where he said:
“I have never seen a great brand positioning strategy that needed more than three words to define the brand. Any more than that and the probability of achieving any kind of impact on the market turns almost immediately to zero. “Great branding focuses on the two or three things that mark the brand out as different. Great positioning always consists of unexpected words born from research, forged through heritage, and destined to differentiate. I cannot tell you what those words should be, but I can tell you that if you are claiming ‘innovation’ or ‘excellence’ in your positioning, you will achieve the opposite.” The trick is creating a brand positioning statement that accurately encompasses your brand within three words (or as close to that as you can get).
Think of it this way, consumers don’t have the time, patience, or desire to sift through cluttered messages to get to the meat of the matter. If your brand position isn’t clear, concise, and believable, it will have no chance of snatching a space in consumers’ minds for more than a nanosecond. Your brand positioning strategy has to set the focus and direction of your brand in a way that is instantly meaningful to consumers. You may be familiar with Jact Trout’s work which amplifies the above alongwith his ex partner Al Ries. Check them out for more details and examples. While their work is strategic, practitioners need to follow a template which spells out the different elements that need to be included. We look at two approaches which are typical. If you examine closely the variations between them are slight 1. According to Gavin Robertson, Brand Positioning Statements provide the most useful function of
Taking everything you know about your brand,
Everything that could be said about the consumer
Making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve
One brand promise you will stand behind.
The Brand Positioning Statement
A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: Target Market (a)
Definition of the market you play in (b)
Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)
The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise. The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (a)
Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d). 2. On the other hand Brad Van Auken says the brand position or brand positioning is how the brand is perceived in the context of competitive alternatives in the mind. When we develop Brand Positioning Statements we include the 5 elements below for each positioning statement.
A Target Customer Definition,
Brand Essence (Mantra),
Brand Promise (Unique Value Proposition),
Brand Archetype and
These 5 elements give the intended Brand Position greater depth.
It is the “heart and soul” of the brand, its timeless quality, expressed as “adjective, adjective, noun.” Some people refer to the brand essence as the brand mantra, while for others the brand’s mantra is synonymous with the brand’s tagline or slogan.
Brand Essence (Adjective1, Adjective2, Noun)
Fun family entertainment
Authentic athletic performance
Rewarding everyday moments
The Brand Promise / Unique Value Proposition:
Only [name of brand]
Delivers [unique and compelling benefit or shared value]
To [target customer description]
In the [product or service category] (establishing the competitive “frame of reference”) In the context of [market condition or trend that makes the benefit or value even more compelling] Because [proof points or “reasons to believe”]
Focuses on the one or two key points of difference between the brand in question and other brands. Typically, these points of difference are brand benefits, benefits that are relevant, unique, compelling and believable for the brand in question. Brands typically focus on only one or two benefits and research has shown that people can’t link more than that number of benefits to a given brand in their minds. The first or most important benefit is sometimes referred to as the primary brand benefit. Example: The unique value proposition for Volvo is “safety.” As a brand promise, it could be expressed as “Only Volvo assures a safe ride to parents who care about their children’s safety.”
One usually talks about attributes associated with products. Generally, with brands, people focus on benefits or values. Brand benefits can be functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive. Through market research, one can identify the path from attributes to benefits to values to self-esteem in customers’ minds. This process is called laddering. A self-expressive benefit of the Mercedes brand is that it communicates that I have status and money. Brand associations are anything that people link or associate with the brand in their minds. For example, people associate gambling and other vices with the Las Vegas, Nevada brand.
The Brand Personality
It is the composite of different brand personality elements. Focus on 7 to 12 brand personality elements for each brand. A brand personality element is usually expressed as an adjective. The purpose of brand personality attributes is to help personify the brand and to give it a distinctive “brand voice. Brand personality elements include the following: Trustworthy, Innovative, Reliable, Friendly, Rugged, Wholesome, etc.
The Brand Archetype
It is the underlying archetype that implies the driving force or motivation behind the brand. Combined with the brand personality, the brand archetype gives a brand a more human feel. Brand archetypes include The Pioneer, The Wizard, The Scientist, The Sage and The Artist.
Other important terms to consider
Brand Trigger is a term used mostly in Europe. It refers to anything that is associated with the brand that causes people to think about the brand. It elicits brand recall. Some people refer to a brand trigger as a Brand Mnemonic Device. So, most Brand Identity Elements (name, tagline, logo, jingle, etc.) are or can be Brand Triggers.
We also talk about Brand Insistence Drivers. These five drive customers from being aware of the brand to preferring the brand to being loyal to the brand to insisting on the brand accepting no substitutes.
2. Relevant Differentiation,
5. Emotional Connection
In the Brand Positioning process it’s important to evaluate the market and your target customers — those that are most important to the future of your brand. With this understanding, continue to re-visit your positioning and tighten the focus.