Positioning – it’s a creative thing

Let creative lead the planning, it’ll pay dividends.

It’s only natural, everyone gets tied up in knots when they start talking about positioning. The business/brand/product definition is to do with finding your market niche based on price, promotion and all that stuff – you don’t need me to recite the handbook. That’s not what I want to talk about.

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 has subliminal feelings –  what does this brand say about me, that other brands don’t?  In other words, how does this brand make me feel about me? And how does it make me look? It’s a response that says, ‘how does this brand build my brand?’

Positioning helps you to see the product or service or brand through your customer’s eyes. And it’s great to know that when faced with so much information, and so well crafted offerings and intelligently targeted brands and products, when there is so much information available, so many opportunities to compare and the chance to make such informed decisions – consumers will still rely on an unquantifiable, emotional response to make decisions. Which is where creative gets to play. The real story is the emotional one, not the rational appeal.

And what solicits this emotional response?

It’s 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 intangible. 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. And what they want it to say about them.