One of the first things we do with every new client is talk about their brand position. To do our job well, we need to understand what sets them apart and makes them uniquely qualified to earn the business of their customers. Beyond the technical skills and product specifications are the intangible elements: what should customers to think and feel as they interact with the brand.

Sounds simple, but it isn’t. Being high quality, hardworking, offering leading-edge technology or providing good service are important if you want to close the sale, but they are not things which really set a company apart. Why? Think about it, how often to you hear about a company which offers crappy service, high prices, poor technology or inferior products? These benefits put you on parity with everyone in your market. Your position statement must be more.

So the hunt for  something unique begins. Unfortunately, it’s hard work, and many companies take the easy road, trying to combine two or more benefits which really don’t go together.

For instance:

Leading-edge technology solutions at affordable prices. Instead of driving people to your door, this promise makes them skeptical.  How do you get to that price? Where did you cut corners? When is the product going to fail?

A better alternative is this: We research the best technology alternatives and recommend the one that is right for your budget. You still get to talk about your knowledge of technology with an emphasis on cost reduction without sounding cheap.

If you want combine two elements in your position, you need to decide  which one is most important. One has to be primary and one must take a secondary position. If you can’t or won’t choose, your marketing feels like a giant game of tug-of-war as you push and pull trying to fit into more than one niche in your customer’s mind. For example:

High fashion, low prices. Really? Is that a sale at Nordstrom or Walmart on a good day? In this case, you have to decide to lead with one or the other. What you focus on will attract a different customer. While the Nordstrom customer is happy to save a little money, they are unwilling to sacrifice quality. In contrast, the Walmart customer knows she is buying a knock-off and is fine with that,  as long as the price is right.

There isn’t one right answer.  Both Nordstrom and Walmart run profitable businesses, but they do so focusing on very different clients clearly staking out an original position. What about you? Where do you fit in your marketplace?

Want to learn more about brand position? Check out our worksheet to learn how to construct one for your business.