Once you and your positioning team have determined what the positioning for your brand should be and identified the points of difference, points of parity, and maybe even a brand mantra, consider checking your work with the following approach I learned from branding expert Kevin Keller.
Write up your key points of difference and points of parity (and your brand mantra if you have it) where you can see them together, representing the sum of your positioning. When you look at these pieces as a whole, does your chosen positioning pass the following three-question test?
1. Is this positioning desirable to your brand community?
Does the positioning reflect characteristics your brand community would want? It isn’t enough just to be different—the positioning should show that you are different in a way that people would value.
2. Is this positioning deliverable by the brand?
Does your brand experience already deliver on this positioning? If not, and if you’ve identified aspirational points of parity or points of difference, can you make changes to the organizational strategy that will ensure this positioning will reflect the actual brand experience at some point in the near future? If your brand can’t deliver on the positioning, it won’t feel authentic to your brand community and may actually do some damage if people perceive it as false or misleading.
3. Is this positioning differentiated from your competitors?
Does this positioning distinguish your brand from everyone else in the competitive frame of reference? Even if the positioning is desirable and deliverable, if it is indistinguishable from the positioning of your competitors it won’t be effective.
Desirable, deliverable, and differentiated: great positioning will be all three at once.
When I hear people talk about how awesome their organizational culture is, I often find myself wondering what sort of “great” culture it is.
For me, great cultures fall into two categories: entitlement and mission-driven. Those “best places to work” lists don’t usually make a distinction, but I do. Here is the difference:
The surest sign of an entitlement culture? When someone tells you why they like their work, they give you an example of a benefit not related to the work itself. Some examples:
I get on-site daycare.
I get free snacks and drinks.
We have great health benefits.
We have a flexible work-from-home policy.
From what I’ve observed, entitlement-driven cultures resonate most with people who have a deeply held desire for safety, security, and quality of life.
It’s no secret that I believe organizations with a strong shared purpose, mission, or vision beyond the bottom line have a huge advantage over those that don’t. I was able to witness the power of a mission-driven culture first hand at Red Hat, and I see these cultures all of the time in the both the open source and design worlds.
Ask someone why they like working in a mission-driven organization, and they are likely to say things like these:
I believe in what we are doing.
I love coming to work every day.
I leave work each day with a sense of accomplishment.
I am changing the world.
My personal experience has been that mission-driven cultures resonate most with people who have a deeply held desire to find meaning in their work above all else.
Can companies have both cultures at once, and be both entitlement-driven and mission-driven? Absolutely!
And a culture where people believe in what they do and enjoy safety, security, and quality of life is the best kind, right? Let me be controversial:
I don’t think that is true.
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
When it comes to positioning terminology, I sometimes get questions like “what is the difference between a brand mantra and a brand essence?” or “is a point of difference the same thing as a key differentiator?”
My answer? Don’t get hung up on the words… it’s the concepts that matter.
I have standard terminology I use for brand positioning projects, which you can read more about in my Brand Positioning Tips. I picked up most of these terms from Dr. Kevin Keller, one of the world’s foremost brand positioning experts, and the brand positioning guru we used for a lot of our Red Hat positioning work.
Kevin uses terms like point of parity, point of difference, competitive frame of reference, and brand mantra to describe his positioning process. I like these terms and they have become comfortable for me to use in my positioning work.
But often, I’ll be working with a client who approaches positioning from a slightly different point of view. Perhaps they’ll talk about what I call a brand audit as a brand diagnostic or they’ll refer to the brand mantra as the brand essence.
When working with clients on positioning projects, I operate using the when in Rome principle. I use their words instead of mine. Why? Because they are just words, after all.
What really matters is whether we agree on what the heart and soul of the brand is and what makes it different from other similar brands.
Using Kevin Keller’s terminology to describe your brand positioning won’t automatically make it good brand positioning, and some of the best-positioned brands I have ever seen were probably developed by people who had never heard of a point of parity.
So use whatever words you like as long as you understand the concepts.