Brand positioning is under enormous pressure these days. In our omni-channel, real time, content-driven marketplace, we need a new set of tools to establish brand strategy and essence. As advertising and marketing budgets shift to conversion models and away from traditional advertising models, brand positioning has to adapt. So it is no surprise that brand teams are looking for a new blueprint.
The challenge is how to expand positioning in the new world order without throwing away tools that still work. By artfully blending old and new techniques we can drive conversions by interacting emotionally with our target audience.
Traditionally, CPG companies use well-established tools, such as the brand key, brand pyramid, brand bridge and the 50-word positioning statement, which are still important foundations for positioning. Retail and service brands also use frameworks, such as the brand house, to codify how a brand’s purpose is delivered across the product, voice and experience. The problem is that these basic structures don’t adapt quickly enough to today’s conversion models.
PIONEERS IN CONVERSION-CENTRIC POSITIONING
To understand what is possible, look to QVC and direct marketing company Guthy|Renker, which set the bar for revolutionary brand positioning — leapfrogging over everything that was done before. In order to drive deep consumer involvement leading to repeat sales, they focus on 2-30 minute conversations with consumers. During those conversations they identify key moments when people are moved to take an action, which we call trigger points.
Bare Escentuals was one of the first companies to effectively use this approach across multiple channels and media, which helps explain why Shiseido acquired it in 2010. (See the Fletcher Knight case study: Integrating Rituals and Spokespeople into Long-Format Positioning) Most CPG companies still believe that long-format positioning tools work very well in a multi-channel, rich media environment – note Unilever’s acquisition of Kate Somerville, skincare company.
HOW CAN YOUR BRAND EXPAND ITS POSITIONING STRATEGY?
The typical pathway to conversion for today’s consumer is a non-linear series of events that occur over an extended period of time. As a result, leading-edge tools have to fully codify consumer involvement, consideration, conversion and purchase. You are essentially mapping consumer journeys, analyzing the consumer’s experience of using your brand from start to finish. A simple and effective way to do that is to break the process down into three elements: “Involvement Drivers,” “Consideration Factors” and “Conversion Drivers.”
Determine what types of media content attract your target consumer, such as education, exploration, discovery, self-expression or entertainment. Then track the consumer’s journey across their entire experience of your category and identify needs that are trigger points, moments when you can tap a deep connection. This may sound obvious, but many brands make assumptions and don’t gather real knowledge about people’s true emotional and functional needs throughout their journey.
When your brand plays in the same space as others and targets similar consumers, this is especially important. In those cases, success often comes down to being best at:
• Understanding consumer needs across their consumer journey.
• Knowing when the trigger points occur so you spend your marketing dollars at those points.
• Identifying what type of media content will be most effective.
In conclusion, when your brand captures broad insights across Involvement Drivers, Consideration Factors and Conversion Drivers, you’re starting to think like QVC and Guthy|Renker. If you do it well, your brand positioning strategy will not be a static snapshot of your brand’s essence designed for a TV-type environment. Instead it will be a dynamic perspective that fosters consumer engagement across all channels, extending your insights and positioning strategy to capture the full Brand BlueprintSM.
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photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Lott