How to Design a Business Logo

Logo Design in 23 steps from Holistic Brand Experts

We often get questions about how to design a business logo and have written about how to design a business logo in response. Logos should be like leaders – powerful, aspirational, striking and hugely ambitious, and as holistic brand experts, we know that learning how to design a business logo as part of your company’s branding is possible if you apply the requisite elements of the logo design process and accept that although a great idea is an asset in creating a memorable logo, much more is required. It’s hard work!

Just as your sense of smell plays a big part in your desire for and appreciation of food, the steps to design a business logo is dependent on several factors, not just a great idea, or great design skills. You don’t just see it, you feel it. Strong logo design is almost as a much a science as much as it is an art which is why there are some rules and best practices for the process.

A fabulously designed, lush logo very rarely just springs from a vacuum and to properly understand how to design a business logo, you need to understand and follow the process.

As holistic brand experts, we follow an in-depth process. We want to know about you -your business vision and aspirations and include steps that take into account considerations around running a successful project and convening effective teams.  It is rarely a solo task but it is always a rewarding one and also fundamental to the design of a great logo. Many companies do not expect it, but the ideas and questions raised in a good process can contribute positively to the brand and business overall.

The Holistic Brand Experts Process

When considering how to design a business logo for your company’s branding, it’s helpful to know that good logo design has a life cycle and that the elements of logo design revolve around the brand backstory, personality, architecture, culture and psychology. This is one reason why many companies will use a logo design agency to manage and deploy this process.

For any work on a company’s branding, it really does matter that some initial foundation and discovery work is undertaken to find out what the company does and how. Because of our holistic brand approach, in our view, it’s indispensable to seek insights on these. Sometimes, businesses are looking for a unifying brand for a stable of sub-brands, so there is an existing brand architecture to take account of; or it may just be one large entity based on a super product that has a name that already means something in the market. Whatever it is, the brand backstory, what the company does and why, requires careful consideration when you are thinking about how to design a business logo.

Logos in or out of the context of the brand, and the audience’s familiarity with a brand, have wholly different emotional weights and power, yet the work and thought that goes into the aesthetic is very valuable and must be approached correctly.

If you want to understand how to design a business logo, it helps to understand that there are several approaches to creating great logos and great guidelines for logo design as well as tests to help optimise the chances of getting to the one that is right.

Creating logos, brand and marketing collateral, as much as any other part of marketing, should have a focus on best practice. Our best practice is based not just on our experience and the intuition you develop through several creative processes but also on The Laws of Branding, per Al and Laura Ries. More of that below.

Creativity is not a linear process and that’s part of its power, but finding and depicting that perfect logo – perfect for your company, for who your company is in the world – is the result of a series of processes carried out with structure, great feedback and validation loops and the driving and framing document – The Brand Manifesto. This encapsulates the brand’s purpose, occupied or aspirational positioning, target audience segments, habits and personas, the brand values, personality and promise, and is a key deliverable in branding design.

I always remind clients that everything should start with the brand strategy and that’s the main impetus behind our holistic brand strategy that is premised on discovering, designing and transforming from the inside out. Designing a logo is absolutely no exception. Some designers will start putting abstracts down based on nebulous ideas but we believe that inspiration for branding should have a foundation in the brand ideals, and what is at the heart of the business. This is the heart we seek to express graphically, and it should drive how you design a business logo.

The ethos described above is why if you choose to go down the route of getting help, you should seek out holistic brand experts.

Helpful guidelines on how to design a logo

How to design a logo is one of the most frequent questions we are asked. We are happy to share the answers and the tips that we use as holistic brand experts . There are quite a few of them but using them will help to design a stunning logo and help complete some significant strategic work into the bargain!

Holistic Brand Experts - brand is end to end and logo is never solo

Discovery

1. Brand strategy should drive all of your visual and verbal identity work. Think of branding as BRAND+design. The brand comes first. What is your brand, who are they in the world, what do they stand for, who they stand for, and whose love and attachment are they aiming for? Know that before you start.

With a brand strategy to underpin, drive and give credibility and pedigree to any marketing collateral, including a logo, and with that strategy agreed, we have a core part of the brief in place for ideation to begin.

2) As part of the above process, we isolate the brand’s purpose to determine fit and harmony with primary brand ideas.

3) Brand purpose is the first stage but then we must learn or ascribe, at least foundationally, a brand personality. This will have ramifications for the logo style in many ways – shapes and fonts, for example. Purpose and personality provide a framework for ‘fit’ and traceability to the logo and whether it represents or conflicts with these ideas

4) Start to flesh out a brief. This is a core part of how to design a logo. From the brand deep dive, the brand’s positive difference or uniqueness should be understood, especially as it relates to positioning and designers should be considering in the background, all the ways they could capture the essence of the brand as it is uncovered.

5) The existing visual identity landscape, however disparate and diffuse within the company’s branding, are helpful for collating initial signals – current logos and symbols – preferred styles, shapes and colours, even as generalities, g and things the owner or staff are attached to. It’s also instructive to understand any reasoning behind ‘sacred cows’ in terms of what they don’t want to change or want to live on in some form.

6) Determine which LogoModels appeal. Sometimes when clients approach us, they already have an idea if they want a Wordmark/Logotype, perhaps just their name, emblazoned on a plain background for example or an image intertwined with text or symbol-based logo model.

Many have a hybrid in mind because they want their name attached but once the brief is fleshed out, initial ideas may start to crumble and this is why it’s so important to do the research and deep dive and fully flesh out the creative brief.

Preparation

7) Know your target market and what they are likely to be attracted to.  It’s valuable information  to know who they are, what they like  and might become attached to. This  information could be easily incorporated into not  just the logo but any other collateral that may be put together for the company’s branding.

8) Icon Trajectory Discipline. This is about knowledge, expectations and understanding the effect that time and performance has on a resonant brand. Apple was Apple before it became ‘the Apple’ and Nike was Nike before the became the ‘the swoosh’. Having an emblem with the name did allow these companies to be recognisable as icons yes, but this took decades. It’s important that when building new brands this is understood and companies don’t imagine they can leapfrog into icon just by having the right configuration of emblem and word play. It’s iequally mportant to think long term in choosing your logotype or emblem because changing it may be problematic in the future if your brand’s strategy is sustainable and the brand is successful. It’s important to take things step by step.

9) Don’t expect a smooth or linear process. It very often is not smooth, and it is NEVER linear. You may need to repeat several steps.

Research

10) What does the competition look like?  Like all strategic work, which branding is, it’s so important to know what your rivals are doing so you can gauge uniqueness and reinforce your positioning. The other thing is that quite easy to unconsciously ‘channel’ brand ideas that have made an impact on one into your own creative work and it’s important to avoid this unconscious channelling and if that’s not possible, at least to catch it. There are two schools of thought – you could look at these in advance to avoid this, but some believe it’s more likely that you might unconsciously copy if this is used beforehand. As an agency, as part of our research, someone in our team would do this work and ensure we are steered away from any potential conflicts. On top of that, we will still do a peer review exercise at the end of the ideation process just as a doublecheck.

11) Understand perceptual tendencies and shape and colour rules. Logotypes do come in an array of shapes and sizes and they can come in an infinite panoply of possibilities but not all shapes have the same value in terms of ‘stickiness’, appeal or recallability. Horizontal shapes are easier on the eyes. Legibility is critical and this consideration trumps almost everything else. There’s power in the name and how that is rendered is important but there must a balance between reflecting a brand’s attributes and choosing a font face that is legible.

Teams

12) It’s a team event – many more heads are better than one especially when it comes to capturing the brand essence.

13) Stakeholder Involvement – ensure that all the right people in the organisation are involved in the process. Whoever you will need sign off from must be included. How to design a logo is not nearly as important as how to get it signed off sometimes, if there is a difference of opinion!

14) Building a team spirit and culture quickly Creating teams to deliver something in a short space of time requires a specific and special skill of building high performing teams in artificial conditions sometimes but it’s necessary to do this. Ideation is about the freedom and ability to experiment and reframe ideas. It’s also about courage and communication and it is only good practice to foster an environment where everyone can share ideas open and constructively. If budget allows, consider bringing onboard holistic brand experts.

Execution

15) Brainstorm!!! This can involve frenetic energy or calm paced conversation, it really depends on the team, but ideas must be recorded and collected, and consensus must be pinned down and homed in on. The outcomes of the process may breach some of the rules. While this can help to open minds and enable people to understand the options they have, it can lead to a sort of paralysis too as the options suddenly open a vista of possibilities.

16) Rejection is a key part of the ideation and brainstorming process. It’s just as important to know what is desired as much as what is not

17) Review key themes, reiterate some of the guidelines and decide how they can be reconciled or make a decision to carry on regardless

18)Apply the following guidelines to emergent themes

19) Rule of shapes – distinctive shapes are registered and retained by your brain far quicker and with more facility, and so shapes will need to be discussed and shortlisted. Trademarks as much as possibl should be paired with the name. As a shortcut, once established, the trademark may be sufficient but  your logotype should include both components for recallability.

20) The rule of colours – Colours affect emotion, attention and attachment and really can attract or repel and therefore it’s important to know your market. If you are in a hotly contested space, your brand and logo colour is warfare and should be chosen carefully and strategically. Primary colours are generally better and they are all perceived differently.

21) The rule of contextualised text – how does any text on the logo hit? Can configuration changes alter impact and power?

22) More Brainstorming! Remember, it’s not a linear process.

23) Create a shortlist. The initial design brief encapsulates criteria and a list of requirements for the logo which can be validated and discounted in this process.

Testing

24) The mono and colour test. Check all ideas in black and white, colour and greyscale with colour.

25) Ubiquity and collateral applicability tests. Once a consensus develops around an idea, don’t be afraid to parlay it into all the different forms and applications within which that logo will need to exist and be reproduced.

26) Produce representations as cheaply and quickly as possible of the shortlisted ideas so they can be visualised and discussed. It’s important in this process to try all possible permutations. Sometimes the one discounted in theory makes the strongest impression when fully rendered.

27) Testing – this is a broad process and none of the categories is necessarily mutually exclusive as a measure of iteration is necessary.

a) Temporal and trend tests – will the components and the whole stand the test of time. It might look super trendy, but does it lend itself to being updated and refined as time goes on while keeping the primary elements stable?

b) Recallability tests. A key function of brand marketing is to effect recallability of your brand. Visual branding naturally is fundamental to this, so while testing, this is one of the measures that should be tracked.

 

Cross Reference, Fit and Validation

Holistic brand experts put great store in cross-referencing to brand ideals and personality fit and validation.

28) Brand soul reference – do the candidates, reflect and support the brand ideas and values?

29) Brand Personality Fit – explicitly check that the candidate logos match the brand personality and voice/affect

30) Marketing Testing – Audience Research. The tests above can be done both internally, to arrive at the final choices but during audience tests, some should be repeated. Target responses are extremely valuable if you can afford outreach to them.

31) Post the testing process, it’s time to choose the final candidates and throw everything at it to really bring it life.

32) Produce the final candidate again across all channels, variants and applications

33) Finalise the logo

37) Masterfile management – create and collate master data for all file formats. Create master files for all formats and get them signed off from the primary decision-makers.

Hopefully, this is a useful resource that will help you create a logo and be knowledgeable about the process if you are embarking on and thinking about being part of a process to create a stunning logo. Remember that meaning to anchor your logo is critical to relatability, longevity and that comes from within the minds, purpose, dreams and culture of the business. If you can uncover this, it will go a long way to ensuring what you create is relevant, now and in the future.

 

#designalogo #brandlogo #logobrand #branding #rebranding #designagency #consutingagency #logo

The Brand Naming Process

The Business and Brand Naming  Conundrum – Top Tips to Start you Off

Who needs Brand Naming Rules?

Professionals and creative consultants tend to use many of these rules because, while it may seem a name has sprung out of thin air, many a time, successful brand naming is the result of painstaking, soul searching work and research and an integrated brand naming process, the better to create a holistic brand and consistent branding. Because a name has very many functions, not least ‘recall-ability’, a set of rules have been evolved based on the most iconic names, branding and company brands.

I will go through these briefly but here’s the thing – the brand naming process should be seen as part of the larger exercise of Brand Development. Sometimes this process and the analyses involved in it gives rise to insights that can help to develop a suitable name, and before you ask, YES!! Names matter. As stated above, having the right brand name can help with brand building.

A hundred years ago, it may have been sufficient to just append any old name to your creation or startup, but the whole package matters these days, especially with more and more large and startups companies undertaking the brand development process. Simply put, to compete, all aspects of a brand, not least , brand naming, matter.

The Naming Process – in the background

Now, to  Brand naming. A marketing God, (perhaps THE definitive Marketing God, actually), Al Ries along with Jack Trout and his daughter, Laura Ries, determined ways to categorise marketing challenges in order create rules for developing solutions in the space for building a brand in some systematic way. There is no doubt that huge amounts of creativity are required to create great ideas within some structural frameworks and improve productivity. These rules in themselves, encapsulate the fundamentals and essence of the pursuit of great branding. There is an argument that the name of the brand is actually in itself the brand, i.e. the name is the brand. Personally, I find this a little simplistic BUT it is crucial at the start and there is no denying that once established, it’s very difficult to argue that Coke by any other name is still Coke, so you can see what the argument is based on. So, the name matters.

Brand naming process

 

Brand building is about positioning and highlighting uniqueness. Uniqueness or per Godin – positive good, helps to position your product and therefore brand at the start and the name is part of the establishment. Establishment = leading in a category + owning a word in the mind of your target segment.

To put it another way:

Positioning = owning a category that is > or equal to a word + resonance of the word you own in a customer’s mind + the belief that that word means everything they need it to mean in terms of all the benefits desired or believed + everything else that you do that is aligned to your business tenets and values that reinforce that position.

Naming Power – Beyond the Beginning

The name you choose then, for good or ill, (and it really can be and has been both), becomes irretrievably enmeshed with a target customer’s belief system, and their attachment and advocacy will spring from that. Ries argues that over time, your unique idea disappears, because it can be emulated. Your positive good can be diluted, duplicated and even replaced so that the only reason people stick with your offering is the difference between your brand name and the resonance attached to it, versus that of your market rivals. I would argue that it goes beyond just the name as a word, but what that name has grown to mean, signify and project. It’s easy to see that it is important that the name chosen is one that can be flexed in this way, with other things remaining equal. Ries also agrees that it’s the perception of the name that matters, and this is the ultimate goal, after all, of brand building.

Rules to live by – Top 9 Rules for Business and Brand Naming and Ideas

The rules below have been evolved, based on ideas from Ries, Trout and others, as well as our own experience and best practice. 

Rule 1. A new and unique offering should ideally have a new and unique name.

Rule 2. It should be short and snappy and easy to remember but be unique

Rule 3. If you already have an established company, avoid line extended names which are often meaningless, uninspired and lack resonance in a different category.

Rule 4. Use unusual words and spellings advisedly but do not automatically rule them out if a story can be built around it, especially if it meets the tests of rules 1,2 and 3.

Rule 5. Global audiences versus local markets – when it comes to what is easy to spell, pronounce and what is unique and unforgettable, consider who you are targeting. With increasing globalisation, these tests yield different answers than they may have even 10 years ago.

Rule 6. Create a shortlist

Rule 7. Test these names with existing and potential clients. Do some proper primary research and get feedback on the names.

Rule 8. Test initially in isolation – just the name but not without an offering context – make sure people know what the product/service/company is and does

Rule 9. Test again with at least an initial branding design context.

Great, you’re done. Your brand has a name that shows its face and personality to the world and reflects its vision. You’ve successfully completed a critical piece of your business’s branding!

Branding is a process that calls on all aspects of your business and brand identity, and the brand naming process is no exception. At all times bear in mind the power of a holistic brand in your brand-building efforts. A holistic brand is one where the primary values, cues and design elements are reflected through as many dimensions as possible and echoed in every channel for communication and interaction and this makes it a resonant brand. It’s worth it as consistent branding is so powerful, it can increase revenues significantly.

 

 

#brandnaming #branding #brandname #brandexperience #findaname #brandexperts

A name that fits gives your brand a face as part of brand building

Without a good brand name, yours might be a cool brand without a face.

Excellent CX as Reputation Management Strategy

Why Strategic Customer Experience is a Gift for Reputation Management 

While studying for my first degree, the theme of better customer service (not customer experience yet!) was a recurring theme, concerning earning customer loyalty and market share, although not so much explicitly in the context of reputation management. There was a massive upsurge in the 90s of paying lip service to customer service as a competitive vehicle. That ethos seems to have waned considerably as service seems to be decaying in places we used to expect it, and yet it’s never been more important.

These days, the focus goes, rightly, beyond customer service to consider the entire Customer Experience, how the customer or client of your business experiences all of the elements that make up your brand at every stage of any transaction with your company. These transactions accrue into positive building blocks for favourable brand reputation and strategic reputation management. Identifying all the touchpoints your customer can possibly have with your brand, products and staff and having a strategy for influencing and planning how every interaction is handled is the very essence of it. I think of CX as CXE – Customer Experience and Engagement because the opportunity for engagement, to get information, feedback and ideas from the customer are where the magic really happens.

Why Leaders show care about Client and Customer Experience

We build brands to differentiate but also to build a reputation, against which hopefully a premium can be applied and repeat custom and advocacy can be extracted. The brand sets itself up, makes a promise, delivers it, delights and builds and reinforces a reputation for quality, reliability and other great things. More than ever the opportunities that lie in fostering and nurturing great customer experiences should not be squandered. With more choice than ever available to customers in some domains, CX is ever more relevant and the thinking behind how CX is implemented can make it transformational. It can make it a gift for reputation management.

Transactional to Transformational Thinking – the value of CX

Transactional thinking would limit the scope of CX. Clients and customers when purchasing are not purely acting on calculated algorithms for buying into an offering. There is a great deal going on in hearts as well as minds. However, viewed logically, the purest person to person service element, usually post a purchase or immediately preceding it, and generally as an aid to that sale, actually occurs quite deep within the relationship/purchase funnel. The added value is in everything else leading up to the sale, and after that, you ideally want to exercise some influence over. You want to have the privilege and access of speaking into the spaces either side because when you factor in desirable brand love and loyalty, it’s instructive that conversion does not end with the person who has bought, as they can help you convert others. This is the power of favourable reputation and an opportunity for reputation management.

 

why cusomer experience is a priority for business leaders

The goal of CX is delight – attract, engage, nurture and delight

Putting CX at the heart of Projects

Leaders and staff should have a clear view of their roles and responsibilities in sustainably and successfully delivering customer experience (CX), but it should be ultimately driven by brand strategy. CX can be the arbiter of your brand values and perception. Bearing out and translating the purpose and the values the business espouses through CX buttresses and validates your customers’ perception of your business. Reputation Management starts here. Credit is gained and credibility advanced that indemnifies a brand in terms of sustainable brand reputation and reputation management. Now, it’s been my experience through numerous Change Programmes, that there is generally limited consideration of the programme’s risks and impact to the brand and the business’ ability to consistently meet customer and clients’ expectations. This is because they are often driven entirely by internal, operational factors, external triggers tend to be obligations to and duress from regulators and monitors but I believe customer experience is an equally legitimate driver. Reputation Management is not something that’s only addressed in the event of an adverse event, like savings, reputations must be shored up against rainy days.

I think this should change. Even when it isn’t the causal factor for a programme, it absolutely should be part of the standards and metrics by which that programme is deemed a success. It, therefore, follows that demonstrable improvements to the processes and operating models delivering high-quality customer experience, or at the very least, strong evidence that it is not put at risk or degraded, should form a primary part of the business case.

If projects were incepted with an eye on the customer and transformation focused on making things better for customers and staff, that is if PEOPLE were actually valued and central to the impetus for projects, very possibly, less oversight might be needed as businesses would be policing themselves according to their own stated purpose and values. Hmm!

So…..where is the problem? What could go wrong? Ahhhh, yes. Of course.

When there is no visible commitment to those stated values.What an indictment that is on the way we do business – it means that whenever a customer’s experience of your brand fails to bear out your values, you may be seen as only paying lip service, as inauthentic. The worst of it, of course, is that your customers can see and sense the disconnect. Of course, they can, they get it a sense of it through the entire experience! That’s it – the whole point.  If you are talking about customer experience but not really considering satisfaction of customers and motivation of those who deliver the services that form the experience, you are just paying lip service to customer experience, much the same as people did in the 90s. And your customers can tell!

Reputation Management - Secure your brand's reputation through exceptional customer experienceCX Matters

If you don’t think this matters, I give you Aldi and Lidl. If the leading supermarkets were listening, they would have known and acted on the customer data that Aldi and Lidl have exploited, as Tesco have only just recently started to do hence this update to the blog. It’s taken several years to mount this offensive, but apart from anything else, the customer experience at Tesco was obviously not sufficient to sustain the custom of those with an option to go elsewhere. Tesco’s reputation has also suffered considerably in the past decade an effort to refocus on customer needs might have aided their reputation management. As it was, it appeared to make them more vulnerable to incursions by the challengers.

Other sectors are not exempt. The banking sector sees challenger banks popping up. I give you Tide and Monzo, reported to have deep satisfaction amongst customers. They are starting with a commitment to the customer experience and meeting needs that the existing banks do not, even though they say they want to. It’s amazing when you think about it.

So, dear business case owners, sponsors, C-suite people, transformation programmes should not lead to a deterioration in staff morale and customers’ perception of the brand. Therefore, business strategy and change should absolutely have dependencies on your business brand imperatives and benefits realisation must be within the context of meeting or exceeding customer brand expectations. Even if it is not the causal factor for the programme, it should be in there somewhere! There should be, on every programme board and Steering Committee and Executive Committee etc., somebody who has responsibility for Brand Standards and CX. There, I have just created that brand new role. Feel free to use it because it’s critical, now more than ever, to focus more on people – both in and out – and ultimately serve your brand better.

12 Ways to Jumpstart your Positioning Strategy

1. Positioning Strategy – An End to End Story

Key positioning strategy considerations help highlight a radical truth –  your entire business is a story. To own your position, you need to define it then decide how it is translated into actions across your business end to end, so you can own your story. In owning your story, you have a chance to own your position. Why? Because your story is what your audience believes is the reason why they allow you to be part of theirs. Because defining your story is based on knowing why you exist and why others in that space are of no consequence because only you deliver x-y-z- ­(fill in the blanks) but in that gap must live concepts to create brand love and loyalty.

When you say one thing about your brand and do another in your transactions, your brand and therefore your position begins to be eroded. This is the point of knowing the relevant positioning strategy considerations – what it is, how you achieve it, claim it and reinforce it.

We will briefly discuss the thought process of brand positioning below but this truth should be internalised for those tools to lead to an effective strategy.

 

Positioning Strategy Considerations

Your entire business is a story – ensure it is YOU telling it!

2. Perception Persistence

So, if your entire business is a story, anchored by the perceptions of your brand and the efficacy with which the values publicly espoused are actually embedded and evinced by the way your business is run, the perception and the position of your brand cannot be sustained if your processes compromise any of the above. Therefore, we believe that owning your position is the sum of all the stories your organisation creates both at brand and business level. This belief underpins everything we suggest and do in implementing a positioning strategy.

 

3. A note on ‘Uniqueness’

Discovering ‘uniqueness’ and comparison to competitors in the current conditions are critical positioning strategy considerations. Company culture, communication and conviction must coalesce around the agreed positioning principles and a long term view is critical.

A quick note about ‘uniqueness’. Last week, I met with a marketing expert who argued, that USPs may not need to exist and that what really matters is ‘remarkability’, a la Godin. This is a good and relevant point. There are very few brand new or completely unique ideas BUT the ways, methods, embellishments and channels with which and through which deliver your offering, as well as the inimitable heart and purpose of the business that may derive from you, the leader/owner/entrepreneur, can impart uniqueness. Being ‘remarkable’ is not sufficient if it does not meet the other tests of resonance, part of which is that you are given emotional and relational reasons to choose one offering above another. More on that another time.

 

Remarkability is not always a sufficient consideration on its own to secure a solid positioning strategy

Remarakability is not sufficient

4. Clear Strategy

Your product in a competitive landscape will not reach the heights your business needs it to without a deliberate, structured and clear positioning strategy. This would have as its objective to create an ownable position in the mind of your segment and all the steps required to do so.

5. Research and Analytics

A market positioning strategy is built on business data and seeks to compose the precise chain of words to balance concepts of differentiation, distinction, and similarity in a unified brand narrative. It is a long-term effort to solidify the identity of a company, and its products or services, in a unique space within the minds of the target audience. It is an organized attempt for a brand to set itself apart from the crowd and influence the way its target audience perceives them. There is value in this process because it allows the maximisation of the segment and creates clarity on unmet needs.

6.  A territory to own – the story YOU tell

Creating the impetus for your prospective customers to carve out a position for your product in their minds, hearts and consciousness requires that messaging targeted at them hold meaning, reward and a heightened desire for the kind of fulfilment they would derive from your product or service offering. Words have meaning as well as power, so the sequence of the words that will create the right triggers and parse the correct connotations should be researched.  The ultimate objective is to differentiate and create a perception that the product meets the wants and needs your prospect might knowingly or unknowingly possess. This may be the most important positioning strategy consideration, especially in a very crowded marketplace.

7. Positioning Strategy Successes

The positioning strategy has several dimensions, rooted in competitive research and analytics. Many of the biggest positioning successes of the past 50 years have done well by repositioning the competition so effectively that the only option for the ‘anti-whatever the marketer sought to marginalise’, has been the very product being marketed. This required really understanding the competitive landscape of the product.

 

The Repositioning Magic that Apple pulled off - they repositioned all other phones as ordinary

Repositioning 101

 

Apple arguably repositioned all other mobile phones, relegating them to just ‘functional’ communication devices, Airbnb repositioned short term vacation accommodation to ‘just rooms’ by promoting the experiential ‘live there’ philosophy of Airbnb. Starbucks repositioned other coffee shops by making them ‘just coffee shops’ where Starbucks became a way of life, lifestyle choice and haven. Their coffee famously doesn’t always make the top grade according to taste tests, but their target audience isn’t just going for the coffee. This is the power of positioning even in a pure commodity segment, like coffee.

8. Pitching from Power

Your company’s positioning strategy considerations should include how you will be differentiated and compete in a market, thus, what position you will pitch from. It helps you isolate gaps that you can exploit to compete more effectively. Therefore consider the businesses occupying spaces in those broad areas.

Pitching from Power - Positioning Magic

Pitching from Power – The reason for positioning

9. Leading in a segment

Your business needs to choose a few key areas upon which to focus where your leadership or uniqueness in a feature, idea or benefit can be demonstrated.

10. Content Strength in Consumer Context

Consider your offering strengths, weakness and difference where possible in the context of the customers’ needs and the strength, weaknesses and attributes of competitors

11. Innovation as Strategy

The example companies above were able to separate themselves effectively and compellingly from their competitors through not just innovative products, in the case of Apple, but innovative strategies – reimagining and representing that category to meet other needs beyond the purely functional. They went from resolving a pain point to creating a real gain and creating delight through benefits the customer had never anticipated but now cannot live without.

So as well as the following dimensions, we should consider innovation as not just a separate dimension but a possible sub-dimension within other categories

12. Dimension X – Attribute Analysis that allows Synthesis of Positioning Gold

The following are dimensions upon which your positioning strategy research and planning should focus to help to collect insights that will help positioning:

  • Brand Positioning
  • Product Positioning
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Competitive Pricing Position
  • Positioning MESSAGE
  • Quality Positioning

The dimensions that a brand should focus on in their positioning strategy considerations can be driven by what type of brand they are.

Graham Robertson identifies 4 core strengths that people developing an offering or seeking to position an offering should identify as their primary strength, in order to determine what type of strategy to adopt and so, for example, experience-driven brands might tend not to focus too much on the cost dimension of positioning.

 

Misunderstood brands signal oblique and incoherent positioning are often a result of never attempting to own a position or identify the people for whom your product should be a first choice. You find them, communicate appropriately and then, they see you!

Positioning strategy considerations are complex, and targeting and positioning take time and commitment but is very much worth the investment to set your brand apart in your audience’s perception. This is an opportunity to show the needs and wants that only your offering can meet in a particular way. Defining your business’ purpose and identity provides a psychological hook for target customers about how your business can meet their specific needs. It allows you to make a promise that emotionally as well as rationally connects you to your audience.

The Future of Purpose-Driven Marketing

Purpose Driven: Marketing

What are the credible next trends in purpose-driven marketing?

The drivers for the next trends, live in the distinction between purpose driven and cause marketing. When conflated, the brand is too elastic and unrelatable to other signals emanating from the brand, appearing led by public opinion and inauthentic.

Cause is a social justice issue a brand adopts, advocates or attacks due to brand purpose alignment, the test of which is if the cause resonates with consumers and what they believe the brand believes.

Purpose refers to the brand’s raison d’tre, a factor running through all they do and say, like Blackpool through a stick of rock, so while purpose driven marketing does not equal cause marketing, causes adopted should be because of the brand’s stated and intrinsic purpose, signalling authenticity to consumers of the brand.

Consequently, twin emergent trends beckon. 1) Customer Experience (CX) and Engagement Remodel to plot customers’ journey along emotional, psycho-graphic and behaviouralisation axes, validate causes in line with purpose and consumer advocacy, while ensuring responses meet expectations and facilitating adoption of the second trend. 2) Transformative digital technology including Big Data Analytics, closes the loop on gaining true customer insights and anticipating needs and concerns.

Will we reach saturation, with ALL brands conveying a cause message and starting to put consumers off?

brown petaled flowers under body of water

General ’cause fatigue’ will occur, but consumers of specific brands won’t be put off just due to this. However, many brands just never define a distinctive driving purpose and many do not adopt cause marketing or do so clumsily, which is more likely to put consumers off than embracing a cause they care about. This is precisely the value of the CX Remodel and Big Data Analytics, as, with a finger on the pulse of consumers, cause marketing will resonate, dictated by customer engagement and analytics. By being attentive to the tribe that believes their purpose, promise and proposition, brands can be responsive.

What are the future pitfalls, for example,  going off-brand, overreaching and even misreading customer cues and values?

man climbing on tower near buildings at daytime

These ‘brand risks’ cannot be overstated – products, activities, stances and causes not aligned with brand positioning and customers’ brand perception, rooted, ironically in the lack of a purpose driven brand strategy. It’s crucial to map CX models to consumer profile points and expertly plumb all available data and insights.

With consumers increasingly savvy, how can brands best build a purpose with integrity?

By ensuring consistency in messaging across digital and traditional platforms, in store, online and through all channels through which they engage with their brand tribes.

By ensuring the brands they build are resonant and sustainable – based on a clear purpose and vision, and immense clarity on what the brand means in the perception of the target audience.

By being consistently clear and unequivocal about who they are and what they stand for.

As long as brands’ causes are aligned to brand purpose, they will have integrity. As long as their activities and offerings are relatable to customer needs and wants and are purpose driven, their consumers’ perception will always be one of reinforced integrity.

 

5 Digital Trends to Watch

With the current pace of change, being aware of impending or current digital trends is critical for maintaining dynamism in the business model. What innovations or tools are important for your business to stay relevant and integral to becoming a part of the digital age business model?

The environment within which organisations now operate are more volatile than ever before. Businesses must gain and exert a measure of control of the constantly changing dynamics in the environment, fraught with the headwinds of digital advancement and the unknown. How control can be achieved depends on the strategic and timely deployment of change. Success also largely depends upon the speed of adoption of change  – being aware of the main trends can affect the speed and effectiveness of take-up.

The primary approach and the assumptions underlying change strategy should be that leaders and business need to reckon with and be ready for change and digital, in as many respects as possible. The new ‘operational readiness state’ is defined and validated by digital awareness and capability, implemented under several interrelated elements. The People, Security, Data, Collaboration and Learning elements are explored below.

Talent Acquisition

When considering which digital trends to watch, the item ‘People’ may appear not to be strictly a digital element, but as skilled and highly capable employees underpin strategy and perform the work to be done, it is worthwhile to review the trends and constraints in this area.

The first challenge is attracting and retaining talent and there are still some real constraints in finding staff who are as digitally savvy as is required. Increasingly prevalent are technologies using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cyber-security and Data analytics for which it is a very tough market in which to get the right people. Attracting being one obstacle, retention is yet another and in order to do so, companies will need to consider their Digital People Strategy, a primary strand of which must be that employees should be encouraged and enabled to start and run their own initiatives based on their interests. Businesses that can plan in and implement these practices will contribute greatly to their Digital Readiness.

Related to the People element is the human computing intersect of the digital space. AI, RPAs and humans will need to co-exist in a space where humans, even with all the proliferation of office technology over the past 30 years, have been largely dominant, fully in control and driving the direction of application and analytics. With the rise of the human-robot dynamic, this is set to change drastically with increasing tensions at interaction and utilisation points.

The Rise and Rise of Cyber-Insecurity

Cybercrime, with its systems, practitioners and methods,  an increasingly important digital trend, is growing at an exponential rate and while response rates have risen and readiness is improved, businesses are still only playing catch up to a large extent, not least because gaps in everyday security are tripping up unsuspecting legitimate users of company systems, causing frequent incursions and ever more sophisticated and furious attacks.

To successfully combat the many inevitable attacks, People and Digital Risk frameworks should be developed and/or changed to incorporate greater staff involvement, in a more coordinated and regular process to increase and sustain vigilance, awareness and intelligence to ward off potential security breaches that people might otherwise overlook, fail to report or fall foul of.

The Growth of Collaboration

Collaboration is an as yet largely overlooked landmark on the path of digitisation and is a dependency for advancing business’ digital capabilities, generating business value, speed of delivery and contributing to increased competitive advantage in absolute terms.

The scope of collaboration is not limited to internal stakeholders and advantages accrue and compound for the ability to collaborate with external as well as internal stakeholders, from suppliers to customers. Cooperation across functions, geographies and business lines ceases to seem counterintuitive, creating huge efficiencies and transparency through cross functional integration of processes, and therefore in helping to gain task clarity and timely input from all relevant parties. Of course, the tools chosen for collaboration must be fit for purpose and suited to the shape and working practices of the organisations. Ideally, the tools should help to improve those too.

Data Insights

Business insights transferable at speed across different teams generated through the application of data mining and analytics will be a definitive catalyst of radical change in the coming decade, not least in the customer experience space. These will be gleaned from human intelligence and customer data and other data available in the organisation.

High Velocity Learning

Instituting and exploiting high-velocity practices and techniques is central to becoming an organisation that contend with the speed of change while positioning your company to adopt the change and tools that will create greater digital capabilities and enable the business to compete. Businesses need to be aware of the latest digital trends and implement tools and solutions that are the standard in their sector. Implementing Cloud Computing will need to be prioritised and planned for, as will Big Data.

Champions, charged with decision making and budgetary authority to review and make the case for tools that should be adopted and then ensure that there is headroom in the budget to acquire these tools, should be appointed.

One of the simplest but yet most significant adoptions is ensuring integration with and a managed presence, on social media, along with an analytics capability and a clear social media strategy.

A programme to discover businesses processes that lend themselves to automation should be undertaken, Automation is the gateway to realising true efficiencies in your business and the process to decide what can be automated should lead to an overall streamlining of your process. Dependent on the size of your business, enterprise resource planning tools, while not new can provide a great platform for promoting and understanding a logical flow of your business structure.

Finally, fostering an innovation mindset and building a bedrock on which to securely build and catalyse innovation, through the building out of an innovation ecosystem.

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