Everyone gets tied up in knots when they talk about positioning. The classic definition is to do with finding your market niche based on price, promotion and all that – you don’t need me to recite the handbook.
As a creative positioning is much more interesting. It is to do with the emotional response customers have to a brand. It is to do with what do customers think about the brand, and how does it make them feel. And it’s relative to the competition. I like to think of it like this: the customer is feeling subliminally, what does this brand say about me, that other brands don’t? it’s a response that says, ‘how does this brand build my brand?’ In other words, how does this brand make me feel about me?
Positioning helps you to see the product or service or brand through your customer’s eyes. Being a creative, it is satisfying the know that faced with so much information, and so well crafted offerings and intelligently targeted brands and products, consumers will still, and perhaps more so now, rely on their perception – their emotional response – to make decisions.
There is so much information available, so many opportunities to compare and the chance to make such informed decisions that perhaps the real differentiator is the emotional one.
And what creates this emotional response?
It’s not just the brand promise and messaging but the style of the communication that counts. It’s the mood the creative builds. The cadence of the story being told as well as the type of story being told. It’s the tone of voice as well as the information being imparted. It’s the visual bed as well as the imagery.
The reason I think people get tied up in knots is because the positioning that counts is an intangible thing. It can’t be expressed in a spread sheet or a planning document. You can write out the rules, but it’s something that can only be felt. It is a customer’s creative response to your creative expression of what you want your brand to be about.