I learned about branding in a very unlikely place.- from the business management bible, Good to Great. Years later as I sat through a brand training at my agency, I realized this was the creative brain’s way of talking about the Hedgehog Concept. The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is the brand promise. The Hedgehog Concept is the Brand Position. And that, my friends, is the difference between the way marketers and CEOs talk about their worlds. Turns out they aren’t that different, as is the case with most of life’s biggest conflicts, it’s just a matter of semantics.

So call it the Hedgehog, call it the Brand, call it your Marketplace Position – it doesn’t matter. It’s a business strategy and not just a creative one. Very few CEOs are talking about color palettes and grid lines, but they are all worried about building a distinct marketplace advantage.

A relentless discernment of how your offering connects to the marketplace is at the core a successful business strategy.

The best branders know this and while they may not talk about in C-suite speak, they are able to build brands that align a business strategy and attract tremendous market share.

There are no shortcuts to successful positioning, but here a few exercises that can help you get the process started.

  1. What’s the worst thing a customer could say about your product or service? If you know what you absolutely do not want customers to say, think or feel about your brand, the opposite is probably pretty close to what you do want them to think, say and feel.
  2. Think about a time a customer responded positively to your brand or service. What was happening in that moment? How did you know the customer experience was positive?
  3. What companies do you most admire and why?
  4. If you could have a dream client, who would it be? What kind of work would you do for them? What would the relationship be like?
  5. What problem does your service solve for clients? How does your product or service fix the problem? In what ways is your fix different than the competition’s solution?
  • What do they value most about your product or service?
  • What are the personality characteristics of each of your target audience segments?
  • When do they purchase your products?
  • How are they purchasing your products (through which channels)?
  • What makes them choose your products versus the competition?
  • What does your company give them that the competition doesn’t?

If there’s something on this list you don’t know, make your goal this week to find out. Ask your sales team for input or better still, ask your customers directly. They’ll appreciate that you are taking the time to get to know them better.

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