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Before the launch of a new company or product, a team of marketers worked behind the scenes, carefully organizing the complex set of parts and pieces that make up the brand. From the brand name to the slogan and the message, they probably considered and grouped various options before finally deciding on the combination that best represents the company and what it has to offer.
It’s a lot of work. It is therefore not surprising that few companies are willing to follow the entire process. again. But, over time, most companies will find themselves in a different position than their original brand image represented. Maybe they’ve expanded geographically or made significant changes to their product offering. Or maybe it’s the world around the business that has changed: new technologies, shifts in customer behavior, or a global pandemic causing their identity to become misaligned.
Regardless of the root cause, if your company’s branding, slogans and messaging no longer capture the full picture of what your company and product line really offers, how it differs from competing solutions and which category it belongs to, then as painful as it may be… it’s time to reposition.
At Livestorm, the decision came after we realized that the way our product was evolving was taking us away from its original value proposition. This happened because the way our customers were using our product was not how we originally intended, and we were developing features and capabilities to meet a different set of needs than we envisioned.
So we knew our positioning had to change. We also knew we had to be the drivers of change: if we didn’t, the market would do it for us. And if that were the case, we would run the risk of remaining “stuck” with the identity she assigned to us, rightly or wrongly.
Going through the process, some things came easily and some did not. Here are the do’s and don’ts that can help make your own repositioning process smooth and painless.
DO: Get outside help
Use an outside consultant who has experience in positioning and messaging. You need an outside, unbiased perspective for honest feedback and to answer honest, hard-to- ask questions from customers about what they like. and dislike your technology or other offering, and what sets you apart from your competitors.
One of the best decisions we made was to hire a marketing consultant to guide us on our journey.
She started by interviewing our clients, and because she had no skin in the game, she could ask the tough questions and get honest feedback. She gathered insights into what they liked and disliked about our platform, how they felt about it compared to competitors, and what they felt was missing.
She then interviewed various C-level executives in our organization, getting their thoughts on the company’s goals and how they wanted to be perceived by prospects and differentiate themselves from competitors.
His in-depth analysis of the external and internal perception of our company allowed us to build a holistic brand with which employees, leaders and customers could feel aligned.
DO: Honestly assess the competitive landscape and how you fit into it
Create a detailed and brutally honest matrix of the competitive landscape and your place. This is a task that should not be taken lightly or done in a hurry, as grounding your repositioning in reality is essential.
Having that outsider with an unbiased perspective can be hugely valuable here, especially since we marketers are so used to emphasizing the positive and leaving it at that.
In an exercise my team members found helpful in trying to define our position in a way that was both true and differentiated, we each wrote 3-5 sentences about what made our organization unique. We would review each of them, determining if we could claim the traits as our own or if they could be applied similarly to a competitor. If the latter was true, then we moved on. It wasn’t until we found the unique points that were ours and ours alone that we began the process of developing things like slogans and company boilerplates.
DO: Create a detailed plan for deployment
Have a clear and actionable plan in place to roll out your new message.
It is essential to have internal buy-in above all else.
At Livestream, we started to deliver the message from top to bottom. Our CEO held a town hall meeting where he clearly presented the new positioning to the entire company along with the explanation of why it needed to be done.
The second step was to work with the teams responsible for most of the company’s outbound communications: sales, customer success, and business development.
We developed a timeline, including when the new language would be rolled out to communications with customers and new businesses. We also made sure that all documents (the website, sales support, brochures, press releases, social media and even LinkedIn accounts and team member email signatures) were up to date. simultaneously to deliver a clear and unified message.
DON’T: Forget other languages
Although the oft-cited example of the Chevrolet Nova in Mexico never actually happened, the lesson it presents is valid: when doing business across languages and cultures, you need to consider how everything will translate. It’s a question of words, of course, but also of tone and style.
For example, English is conducive to direct and catchy sentences. Think of McDonald’s: “I love it.” Translating this directly could be clumsy, unnatural and too wordy in another language. For McDonalds, the answer was to make slight modifications for different markets. In French, it’s “C’est tout ce que j’aime”, which is more like “C’est tout ce que j’aime”. Meanwhile, in Argentina, it’s a simple “Me encanta” or “Love it”.
DON’T: Set it and forget it
You’ve launched your new positioning, so your job is done, right?
First, you need to follow the reception from the start to make sure your position is understood by the audience. If that seems insufficient, you need to go back and refine it early enough so you don’t get stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.
Then you have to see how the market responds and, if necessary, adjusts the strategy accordingly. In our case, we developed our unique brand positioning fast and then quickly saw our competitors adopt it. This is both a good and a bad thing. This proved that our positioning was powerful, but it also put us at risk of losing the impact of differentiation.
To counter this potential downside, we’re continuously monitoring the industry conversation around the terminology we’ve created, continuing to drive our positioning forward and ensuring we’re the ones educating customers, prospects, and customers. whole market.
Finally, while it’s important to respect the message you’ve crafted so carefully, you shouldn’t treat it as if it’s set in stone. Keep monitoring and refining; the forces that drove you to do the exercise in the first place don’t go away.
* * *
Getting the repositioning right can be a long and arduous process, but putting the time and energy into it is invaluable.
During the development process, it’s important to carefully consider and be honest about your product’s strengths and weaknesses.
Then, when you’re ready to roll out your new positioning, make sure you do it in a planned, organized, and consistent way, and monitor it to make sure it’s understood by your audiences, both internal and external.
And own the whole process, because you want to capture what’s truly unique in order to build long-term differentiation.
If you follow the steps in this article, you can maintain the edge, which is essential in a time when a business whose identity is unclear can easily be defined (often incorrectly) by others.
More resources on brand positioning
Positioning as the foundation of big messages
Brand positioning and customer insights: Debbie MacInnis and Allen Weiss on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
Knowing how your competitors are positioned: the key to competitive intelligence