This is the sixth article in a small series of punches surrounding April Dunford's Obviously Awesome! and how good positioning relates to good branding. Please read the first article, second article, third article, fourth article, and fifth article before jumping into this one.
You know what the alternatives are, you know the special things that make your startup unique, you've established what makes that valuable, you know who finds it the most valuable, and you can frame your impact in a market that makes it easy for users to understand your company. This next step is only optional, it isn't crucial to positioning, but it can help if implemented well.
Step six is riding a trend to give your positioning an extra boost. Trends are macro movements that continually grow and shift culture. For example, plant based foods, sustainability, data privacy etc. It's like adding a rocket to your positioning, propelling you along with the strength of the trend.
Now, the reason this is optional is because it's tricky and can easily fall by the wayside.
Imagine you were selling drinking water during the start of the gluten free trend. You could slap a sticker on your bottles that says "gluten-free" to hopefully ride the trend. But you'd be stupid. Why? Because anyone who is truly gluten-free knows that water doesn't have gluten... at all.
On the other hand, if you were a health-conscious brewery and could come up with a gluten-free formula, it'd be smart to jump on the gluten-free wave. Why? Because it's relative to the product, since almost all beer is made with gluten, and aligned with the mission of the company.
Which brings up the last point on this: trends say a lot about your brand. They are often political and carry strong emotional qualities. Before you jump onto a trend, you better know yourself and the beliefs shared between you and your audience. If you betray either of those, every step in positioning your company is forfeited.
Rebellion in its purest form is the willingness to go right when everyone else goes left. Meaning, it is an intentional effort to be different from everyone else. Developing a recognizable, bold brand is contingent upon this. What's not always clear though are the tactics used to intentionally differentiate your brand from your competitors.
Ugggghhhhh, research? C'mon man, I thought branding was supposed to be fun? Branding is fun and the best way to ensure it's fun is to do it right. You must know what is already out there within your market to see how you measure up. If you all look and sound exactly the same, this makes it insanely difficult for consumers to make a buying decision. The research doesn't have to be extensive either, especially if you can't afford the time. But you could at the very least do this:
Research your top 7 competitors via their website and social accounts. Ask yourself these three questions:
What do I feel when going through their marketing? List out all the adjectives you can (encouraged, empowered, bold, safe, clean, edgy, rustic, modern, etc.) or if you don't feel anything, write that down too.
Who do I think would buy this product/service? Be specific, write down the person's sex, age, economic status, occupation, etc. if a competitor seems like they are trying to appeal to everyone, write that down.
What is missing? These could be emotional qualities, different tiers in quality or price, or a missing offering that would be useful to the consumer.
With all of this information, you can now assess where the weak points are in the market. For example, if all of your competitors gravitate toward a male audience, perhaps there is a chance to be female-centric. If they all charge a low price, there is an opportunity for a high price, high-quality offering. At the very least, if all of them act the same, there is an opportunity to be different at an emotional level.
Creche le créneau
French for "fill the void." Somewhere in your research is a gaping hole that no one has filled yet. Be it emotionally, quality of goods, accessibility, or catering to a specific user, if something is missing, there is an opportunity. If you can find a hole that fits the purpose and vision of your business, you've got the foundations of a rebellious brand.
No one is going to buy a product to make you rich, it's a shitty goal to reach for.
Build something that brings people joy. Something that inspires, something fun. Create an excalibur that allows someone to slay the dragons in their life.
Have some freaking empathy and don't waste people's time. It is the only way you can build an impactful brand.