Choosing a brand positioning is one of the most important decisions you can make. That’s why deciding what your brand stands for and what reputation you want to earn in the marketplace should not be done without considering the following nine evaluative criteria. If you can answer yes to all of these, then your positioning should set you on a path to a successful outcome.
One: Is the positioning differentiating today?
You want your brand to stand out. So if your chosen positioning is too close to a competitor’s it won’t be effective unless you can say it differently, do it differently, or change the game completely in the way you define and implement it. Usually as part of our research process, we will map the various positioning directions to show where there is whitespace in the marketplace.
Two: Could the positioning be sustainable long term?
Most positioning statements aren’t meant to last forever. Times change, market dynamics change, and customer buying behaviors change. But is the positioning statement you’re looking at forward-thinking enough? Will it still be relevant five years from now? The positioning must be right for today yet sustainable for tomorrow. If so, then it will probably be one that will prepare you for growth.
Three: Will the positioning inspire team members?
Team members are very important brand ambassadors. If they don’t live the brand, the brand often doesn’t live. So will this positioning direction excite them? It’s an important question to consider. While a good employee engagement strategy can help team members find the inspiration in any positioning idea, it’s helpful if the direction naturally inspires them too.
Four: Will the positioning resonate with your key audiences?
A good positioning statement shouldn’t alienate your brand’s consumers. Instead it should resonate with your current audience as well as in the greater marketplace—perhaps attracting a younger audience while maintaining your core. The goal is both retention of your current audience and growth beyond it. If the positioning direction will do both, that’s a positive sign. Research can help determine this too.
Five: Does the positioning align with your vision and strategy?
The positioning statement is part of a larger brand hierarchy, one that includes your vision, mission, and strategy. It’s important to ensure they all fit together. While your vision may be very broad, if it can’t encompass the positioning direction and you are not open to changing your vision, then the positioning direction may need to be reconsidered.
Six: Is the positioning believable? In other words, can you deliver on it?
There’s nothing worse than a company that says it stands for something and then can’t deliver on it. If the positioning is a stretch, that’s okay—as long as initiatives are put in place immediately that will allow your company to believably stand for what you say you stand for.
Seven: Does the positioning contain the right grounded, reach, and stretch equation?
This point relates to the previous one. You want the positioning to be grounded in what you do and who you are. But you also want it to be aspirational because otherwise how can you grow and innovate? It’s easier to achieve lofty goals if you aim for them in the first place—as long as they are grounded, of course.
Eight: Is the positioning true to your heritage and culture?
The positioning represents who you are as a brand. So it should represent your heritage and culture, or at least have a small tie to it. If it does, it will help with the believability factor and also help with team member inspiration.
Nine: Is the positioning compelling?
As stated previously, it’s important for a positioning to be differentiating. But that’s not what customers value most. Customers want something that’s rooted in what matters most to them – and then it must be stated in a compelling way to break through the clutter of competing messages.
After careful consideration of these evaluative criteria, the right direction that will position your company for growth should become clear. If not, you may want to consider other ideas or conduct further research to gain additional insights.