This is the second 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 before jumping into this one.
Having gone through the process of seeking out the alternatives to your product, you should have a robust understanding of what is already out there within your market category. This is like being at a poker table and seeing each players' cards. You know what you're up against, now it's time to find a way to play.
The second piece in positioning a company is understanding what makes you special. From a product standpoint, this comes in the form of technical features, but it could expand into areas like delivery method (think Dollar Shave Club vs. Gillette), the business model (subscription vs. single purchase), or unique expertise (a developer with marketing skills or focus within a particular vertical).
After choosing the attributes and unique elements about your business, you could also examine the emotional qualities unique to your company. For example, Duluth Trading Co. and Patagonia make almost identical winter gear, but they are completely different emotionally. Duluth downplays any kind of sophistication despite the fact they charge $25 for a pair of Buck Naked Underwear. While Patagonia shifts its emotional value to serving the planet and altruism. Same products, different stories.
What do you care about? What story do you have? What personality can you bring to the table? It might be something you take for granted, but to everyone else, it is special. It's your secret sauce that shouldn't be kept a secret.
Demographics are the first piece discussed in understanding who your target audience is. Mainly because they don't require as much critical thinking and are evident without much additional thought/analysis. Here is a list of the attributes that one would include in the demographics of their target audience:
What purpose do these pieces of information help us solve in creating a brand? Well, the answer is quite simple: you are going to talk to people differently and through different mediums based on these answers. More importantly, knowing the demographics of this ideal superfan enables you to focus on who will be using your products/services.
Even with these descriptions alone, it is clear that the lifestyles and day-to-day happenings in these persons' lives are going to be different. They will have different preferences, lifestyles, beliefs, cares, aspirations, etc. We start with these demographics because it allows us to put up the blinders to other groups that are not as important to the brand being created.
Personified villains have hilariously made an impact on advertising. Think of character's like Mayhem, the chaos-curating nemesis of Allstate Insurance and their members. Or Mr. Mucus, the scumbag jabronie who gets his ass kicked by Mucinex on the regular.
What's the point here?
Your audience is your hero and heroes do their best when they fight a villain. This villain stands for everything your hero doesn't, they are at ends with each other. If you can identify this villain, you can give your hero tools to defeat them (products, services, training, etc.).
Who is your villain?