For all the words I write on branding, everything I’m saying boils down to this: if you’re not playing, you’re losing. That’s not to say that you’re not successful, but that you’re not being the best you can be. I’m saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader, not a follower.
Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. For example, when something is “new and improved,” or there’s “50% more,” etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page—these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, and sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantalizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise, and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises.
The one thing that is not used as much by advertisers is positioning.
Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don’t enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have.
A lot of people are afraid of “Leader” because they fear being called out on it. This is a just fear if they’re really not a leader, but are just pretending to be. It’s not enough to say you are the Leader—you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It’s within all of us. Maybe it’s the ‘no brag rule’ that our Mother’s instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.
This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to “bold-up” as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don’t resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value.
As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace must adhere to these values, as they are the foundation defined.
Published: November 6, 2013