Branding has been my business for 30 years and if I had to break down the biggest issue between a marketing department and the branding team, it would be the subtitle to this article.
The marketing department believes, and rightly so, that they need certain marketing tactics to be executed, like, design a brochure and sales collateral, build a website, create some ads, write some social media posts, oh, and make the logo bigger—but branders, or, at least, good ones, know that those tactics will be consumer-facing reflections of any company's brand positioning and are often a conversation too many emerging companies avoid.
Real anxiety exists among the dentist, the engineer, the baker, the lawyer, the software engineer, the fill in the blank here:________________ , that if they start to niche their business, by creating a brand position that authentically originates from their mission, vision, and values, they'll end up alienating, or worse, not reaching a larger perceived target audience. Frankly, this is nonsense.
When milk decided to brand itself as a healthy drink that didn’t change the fact that, to many, it also tastes good. But milk decided their best position was not to talk about taste, instead they positioned milk as a healthy drink and supported it with great creative that secured that brand position awesomely. Establishing a brand position doesn’t undercut your market, it deepens it, strengthens it, and makes your customers advocates. It means, in addition to milk tasting good, IT DOES A BODY GOOD. And so, branding does a business good too.
The biggest difficulty that I’ve seen facing small businesses making 500k-2M in revenue a year, is that they are good at what they do but very poor at demanding their brand collateral reflect that they are good in a meaningful and unique way.
In my experience, most businesses don’t provide anything that someone can’t get from somewhere else. So, to really scale your business and breakthrough to the next level requires brand positioning. At a certain point, clients stop buying what you do, or provide for them, and start buying the why and how you’re providing it for them, and choosing if that benefits them. Brand positioning communicates your business to your audience in a way that’s meaningful and relatable.
Yes, of course, brand positioning is reflected on a website and marketing collateral, but the primary issue for most businesses that are not growing as anticipated is that they go looking for tasks to be accomplished and not a brand position to be taken.
Marketing tasks must follow brand positioning, and a good branding team—internally or a hired consultant—should not be in task-oriented conversations, but brand position-oriented conversations so marketing tasks can be executed brilliantly. Then, the marketing tasks to be produced will have the depth and substance they need to actually do the work of establishing a brand position that’s clearly identifiable, understood, followed, admired and shared.