Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Positioning Your Brand to Win

How Managing Your Brand Today Helps Gain Market Share, Avoiding a Crisis Tomorrow

Have you ever wondered why some companies are so successful when others fail? Some live, grow and prosper, and are enormously successful, e.g. Coca-Cola (Coke) or Disney, while some barely make it off the ground and slowly wither away. Then there are others, such as General Motors, that enjoy years of success, but it all comes crashing down one day, and no one is really surprised except for them.

So why is it when you think of Coke, you think of a refreshingly delicious beverage that satisfies your thirst? It’s readily available, and the little red can is easily identified because it has the one and only Coke logo. No matter where you are or when you purchase it, when you pop the top and hear (and feel) the familiar fizz burst into the air, you know you have the real thing. You didn’t purchase a brown, syrupy, carbonated liquid in an aluminum can. You bought a Coke! It’s the same product that has consistently delivered a refreshing experience to its loyalists for more than a century.

Ditto for megabrands Disney and BMW. There is a brand and a brand promise. You fondly recall the experience of a family trip to Disney World. You chose Disney for the fun of an imaginary world, the Magic Kingdom. You expected to see the cast of Disney characters—Snow White, Goofy, Mickey and Minnie—and you did. You anticipated riding the monorail. You experienced Pirates of the Caribbean, the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, and more. It was all there, just as promised.

And then there is BMW, The Ultimate Driving Machine. This is not just any car. BMW is the ultimate car. It’s amazingly designed and stylishly appointed, but every detail circles back to one thing: performance.

All these products have an image or a product personality, otherwise known as a brand. The brand promises you something and delivers on that promise consistently, maintaining or gaining market share. When brands fail to deliver what its customers want and expect, they lose market share. When you as a brand owner don’t aggressively define your brand, others will do it for you. A great brand does not happen by accident.

When GM quit listening to its customer, it lost market share and eventually found itself upside down in an automotive market that had literally passed it by.

Positioning a winning brand takes introspective thinking about who/what you are and who/what you want to be. It requires a thorough understanding of your customer and their wants and needs. It requires a brand promise and managing your message. Positioning your brand to win requires consistency: making a promise and delivering upon the expectation, time and time again.

You don’t have to be a megabrand to have a successful company. Whether your business is the practice of law or delivering translation or background screening services to a customer, positioning a winning brand can be applied to all businesses striving for excellence. You can position your brand to win. These brands did.