Brand Positioning Mistakes

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Having wrapped up a number of brand positioning engagements across our different offices, we collected some of the teams’ top-of-mind thoughts regarding the pitfalls to avoid when embarking on such an initiative. What were the mistakes to stay clear of to stay ahead? What solutions and approaches had the most impact?

As our team worked with clients like large banks, jewelry brands, sports retailers, technical devices, nonprofit organizations, and even blockchain startups, our experts were able to identify five key issues to avoid. Let’s unfold what causes these business problems and solutions you can use to fix them.

1. Scrimping on Research

From large firms with years of data they didn’t know how to query to smaller organizations who had never conducted customer research, we sometimes hear clients suggest that they “don’t have the time to do research.” Sometimes, they’ll say, “Talk to our sales guys. They’ll know what our customers think.” Whether out of a desire to cut costs or save time, you might assume you know what your market requires and that your product, technology, or service is going to break through the competitive clutter on its merits.

Skipping research might only allow your competition to get ahead and tap into marketing techniques and best practices that help them attract consumers better. Another type of research mistake involves researching blog posts, other marketing projects, and competitor websites. While these are great sources of information, implementing them into your business may provide different results if your consumers have issues connecting with them.

The Solution

Even the best offering needs to be positioned and communicated clearly to be compelling. In a world where customers refuse or don’t pay attention to advertisements or other interruptions, it is imperative that your value proposition be devised to attract the relevant audience through on-point marketing. Think of it like prepping in the kitchen before starting to cook: A small investment at the beginning will pay off big once you’re in the middle of the action.

To improve your brand positioning and differentiation from the competition, remember to do your primary research: Gain customer insight. Your target audience is who you’re trying to attract, so you need to understand their point of view. This is as simple as asking them three questions at the end of a customer call:

  1. What pain point made you seek out this type of product or service?
  2. How many products or services did you look at, and why did you choose ours?
  3. What makes this product or service valuable to you?

Understanding your customers’ challenges and how your offerings solve them — and how they perceive your product — can help you uncover critical gaps in your marketing efforts and how to improve your brand strategy and brand purpose. Additionally, you can also interview market experts, analysts, and influencers, as well as product experts and customers who choose another product over yours.

2. Dissociating Brand Strategy From Its Experience

When creating a strategy for brand positioning, many believe that it is best to analyze, create a strategy, and then implement it to imprint their brand positioning into the minds of future customers. In reality, separating these aspects may only distance your customer from an immersive brand experience. If brand strategy is the face of your business strategy, then brand experience is truly the face of your brand strategy. In today’s world, where brand is lived by your customers as an experience, the three must go hand in hand.

The Solution

Avoid this traditional approach by making it more impactful with an iterative approach rather than something sequential — we call it “StrategicDoing.” Think of implementation while strategizing to ensure your team can execute the goal well and deliver full value.

3. Prioritizing External Over Internal Brand-Building

We’ve seen aspiring startups, and even large conglomerates in the middle of a competitive war, be so set on getting their message out to customers that they focus on external efforts at the expense of internal brand-building. And yet, aligning and inspiring employees around a new positioning is half the battle.

Without internal brand-building, you may be unable to persuade consumers that your brand message is true. This may happen when customers visit the workplace or speak with your employees and notice that few workers even know about the brand message.

The Solution

Employees who understand the brand, see how their roles contribute to building it, adjust their behaviors if needed, and actively contribute efforts and ideas are the key to accelerating brand growth. You can influence this by communicating with employees in a meeting, planning a strategy to kickstart continual implementation of best practices associated with it, and providing coaching as needed.

For global brands, engaging internal stakeholders early on is even more critical: Understanding local needs will be necessary to adapt the brand positioning based on the markets served. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works on a global scale, and it is a mistake to impose it from corporate headquarters. An engaged global team will help steer the efforts for maximum payoff.

4. Believing Your Positioning Is a Tagline

From time to time, we see clients get distracted from their strategic undertaking because of a misconception that the positioning needs to be catchy or memorable. Positioning is an internal strategic document that should be seen as the north star for all activities related to the brand. It is a point of reference, and all things — such as messaging, values, visual identity, and more — should ladder up to it. While it should certainly resonate with customers, it is not an externally-facing document.

The Solution

One way to distinguish positioning from a tagline is to draw analogies to well-known brands, such as Nike, so teams can see the nuance in the different parts of the brand and understand how to operationalize them throughout their company. Rather than creating a positioning statement that is slick or catchy, put the focus on its meaning and make it reflect a strategic decision that your brand and company constantly work toward.

5. Mistaking Agile for Fast and Underestimating the Time Commitment

Finally, in our age of “build it as you fly it,” we see leaders and teams assume that brand and growth strategy can simply be added to the already chaotic work schedule. They also often ask about “agile sprints” in the hope that it will lessen the burden. But while agile methodologies offer clear benefits such as greater integration and less wasted work, they usually require a higher involvement from the client team and may not always be adapted to strategic thinking.

In a fast-paced project environment with an experienced management team, it takes time to internalize recommendations, make decisions, and adopt new behaviors.

We were again reminded of this when one wise CEO recently joined his team for the soft kickoff of a project and surprised the room by suggesting that, given everything the company already had going on, they should delay the work. He waited as his leadership argued one by one why they thought we should proceed and how it was going to fit into their workload before declaring himself in favor of the project.

The Solution

It’s essential to remain consistent and committed to your brand positioning. Have regular meetings to check whether company operations and actions align with the brand positioning goal or if the positioning needs to be adjusted with any recent changes in the business. Adding posters of the positioning statement to office walls and running quizzes can also help motivate your employees. Website copy, sales collateral, and blog posts may also promote your new positioning.

Combat Marketing Mistakes With Marketing Techniques and Best Practices From Vivaldi Group

If you have experienced any of these mistakes, it is crucial that you turn them into opportunities. The best way to do so is by working with a reputable and experienced brand positioning company like Vivaldi. Vivaldi’s team of experts focuses on customer-centric brand strategies that help companies develop more meaningful connections with consumers.

Using information about a brand’s unique situation and today’s market, we tackle exciting brand challenges in a wide range of industries and market dynamics to create future-facing brand positioning strategies that transform how others view your brand and influence better business growth and employee engagement. To build and stay true to an effective brand positioning statement, contact our team at Vivaldi at today.