As discussed in Successfully Choose a Great Business Name, it’s important that your small business has a great brand name. A great brand name will put your small business on the front foot, giving you an edge over your competition.
But a great brand name is only one part of small business success. You also need to be able to support your small business brand name with substance. Without substance, your brand name is just an empty shell that won’t sustain a customer past their first inquiry.
It’s your positioning that provides the substance for your small business. Positioning is the personality and perception of your small business. Put simply, it’s the space that your small business and brand occupies in the mind of your customers.
How do I Influence the Positioning of my Small Business?
Notice how the heading is not ‘how do I determine the positioning of my small business’. This is because the perception of your small business is all the minds of your customers. You can’t tell them what they should think of you. You can only influence what they think of you.
Understanding the Perceptions of Your Businesses Category
All industries have perceptions. To successfully compete in an industry, you need to understand these customer perceptions. Examples of industry perceptions include:
- I don’t understand cars. I’m pretty sure my mechanic rips me off
- I believe what doctors tell me because they know more than me
- My insurance is too expensive. Always
- That service offer sounds too good to be true. There must be a catch
- That financial company has been around for ages. I trust them more than that new finance company
- It’s always more expensive to call out a tradesman on a Saturday and Sunday
Do not attempt to swim against this perception tide, it will just end in tears. Instead, acknowledge these perceptions and create a personality and perception which champions a solution.
Understanding the Positioning of Your Competition
How does your competition communicate with the market? How is your competition perceived by customers? Are they fun and lively or conservative and exact? If you note that most of your competition appears to lean towards being conservative, you may be able to differentiate yourself by taking more of a liberal approach.
The Virgin brand typically enters categories which are overly serious and boring. Virgin then uses its cheeky and irreverent personality to differentiate itself. Customers can then decide – choose Virgin or choose Beige.
Whatever positioning you choose for your small business – just don’t become beige. Don’t become part of the wall paper and DON’T copy the style of your competitors.
Alignment with Your Businesses Brand Name
Your positioning must also be harmonious with the brand name of your small business. Nurturing a fun family image will be difficult for the brand name ‘Stone Dark Scotty’s Playground of Doom™’
Visualise the Positioning of Your Small Business Brand
You may have an idea about your positioning, but to really articulate it, it’s best to visualise your brand as a person. This allows you to further develop the layers of your small business brand. It’s a bit like playing the Milton Bradley game Guess Who. Questions include:
If your small business brand was a person…
- What would its gender be?
- How old would it be?
- Would it be married?
- Would it have kids?
- Is it an introvert or an extrovert?
- What would it do on weekends?
- What would it drink – water, coke, squash, beer, wine?
- What clothes does it wear?
- What kind of movies does it like?
- How does it respond to a mistake?
When answering these questions, you will find that the image of your brand starts to become clearer. Once you’re finished, it’s best to reassess your brand’s personality based on the category perceptions and your competitors. Is there a harmonious fit?
Do you have a nearby business that seems to have an ‘x’ factor? Why do they appeal to you?
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Love the suggestion to think of your brand as a person with a certain personality. It helps to bring your brand to life.
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Continuing Adult Education – Distance or Face-to-Face Learning? =-.
I really enjoyed reading this article.
I like how you have suggested to personalize your brand. Many people shop or do business without realizing they are choosing one brand over another because of the image the brand or product portrays.
.-= Cade´s last blog ..Trading System Review – Measure & Improve =-.
Thanks Karen and Cade. Yes, picturing your small business brand as a person really helps you to focus. It helps you crystallise who you’re going to target and how you’re going to interact with them.
Virgin is always such a great example to use when talking about branding. Love ‘em. Cool questions you raise there David.
.-= Lina Nguyen´s last blog ..Richard Branson Business School: A day visit =-.
Great post David, especially and foremost because you ask precise and excellent questions. And as you point out so nicely, when we have made a ‘determination’ or decision we sometimes limit unnecessarily the potential, by drawing lines where expansion could really be needed.
.-= Jo Carey-Bradshaw´s last blog ..Empowering Mindset – Mastering Self =-.
A good read David – thanks. Virgin is such a good example of clever branding – everything about the company says “we have fun – come and join us”. And I think they do have fun. Maybe that’s the trick – don’t try and be something you’re not – be true to yourself, your business and your customers.
.-= Jan Littlehales´s last blog ..Raising Great Kids – Cycling =-.
Thanks Lina, Jo and Jan. Virgin keeps coming up again and again doesn’t it :), making most other brands look like cold corporates.