While you may think your brand and your branding is helping you own a particular space in your marketplace, the real litmus test is if your customers agree.
So how can you find out if your brand is on point and you’re owning the space you want to be in? Let’s find out…
Where does the term “branding” originate?
Branding today is about making your mark and that’s actually something that hasn’t really changed since it was first introduced back in the 1500s — although there’s evidence that branding probably started even earlier — cattle ranchers used to use brands to mark their cattle. It was a way of denoting ownership, with each ranch having its own unique brand. People could then quickly and easily tell who owned a particular cow, reducing the chances of them wandering off and getting lost, or being stolen
The brands used by cattle ranchers were simple, distinctive, intuitive and instantly recognisable — all the marks of a solid modern-day brand.
Branding cows was a rancher’s way of owning their space. Staking their claim. And saying “this is mine, this is my space”.
So why am I telling you about the history of branding and brands? Simply because I want you to appreciate the connection between branding and owning your space. When you think of branding in this way, it’s easy to relate it to what we see today and will help you rise above all the noise and show everyone that this is your space.
Own Your Space
Now, most businesses don’t start out with the intention of owning a particular space. Did yours?
But consider how powerful a statement it is to claim a space and make it your own. It’s what we refer to as ‘strategic positioning’ and it really helps to shorten your journey to cracking your marketing and your position in a marketplace.
By doing your market research, by profiling your customers, by understanding your strengths, your mission, vision, purpose, you make a claim for your brand and you say, “This is me, this is mine, this is who I want to help”. This is brand.
Once you’ve established this, then you can wrap it all up visually, in a way that portrays your brand effectively and use it everywhere your business has a presence/is seen: every marketing asset, every communication, every social media channel, every piece of packaging and more.
So if you’ve never decided on a space you want to own, now is the time!
How to decide on the space you want to own?
Now, I’d like to invite you to perform a simple two-part exercise that will really help you understand the difference between what you perceive as your space and what your customers perceive.
The first part of the exercise is to think about your business, think about the people you solve problems for with your products and services, think about your marketplace and then consider the space that you have the potential to own.
Once you’ve had a think, try to sum up the space you want to own in just two words; two words that describe it best. Write those two words down, review them later and refine them if necessary. The objective of this exercise isn’t to nail it the first time around, but rather start the process of choosing the best two keywords possible for the space you want to own. (FYI – SEO comes later – remember we’re just starting here).
How about a few examples?
In our case; the two words we started with were Strategy and Action. It’s one of the reasons How Great Marketing Works was set up in the first place. It’s a space that CEO’s and business owners struggle with constantly – marrying strategy with action. How do you take the long term vision and attach practical actions towards making it real? How do you make sure that every single Instagram post, product launch and newsletter is bringing you closer to achieving your purpose? We built a whole process around this and framed it into an online course. We called it Get Strategic. Get Results and these are in effect our core words – “get strategic get results”. This is where we spend our time and where we dig deep into both of those words. They are our North Star.
An Example from Kajabi
Another example I’d like to share with you is Kajabi who repositioned themselves a few years ago as “the world’s only Knowledge Commerce Platform” and have now embraced these three words “All In One”. Check out this recent update video from them, where you can see it’s pasted on the wall in the background and all their messaging aligns with this much simpler language. Their platform contains everything you need to run your business “all in one” place.
An Example from Carlsberg
One more story for you in this space is Carlsberg’s attempted rebrand away from using the words “Probably the Best Lager in the World”. When they tried to drop the “probably” in 2011 it just wouldn’t go away. In the end, they reverted to what we now know as “probably the best tagline in the world” 🙂 Check out the whole story here.
By consciously deciding where you want to be and owning that space, you will automatically raise yourself up above the noise in your marketplace, instead of just drifting along with everybody else.
Time To Check The Search Engines
For the second part, I want you to head over to Google (or the search engine of your choice) and see which brands come up when you search for those two keywords.
- Do your competitors come up?
- Do brands you’ve never heard of come up?
- What stories come up? Do they fit with your own narrative?
This will enable you to see who is occupying that space at the moment and help you figure out how you can differentiate yourself to own it, or at least a segment of it, going forward.
Doing this part may even help you realise that the space you thought you wanted to own isn’t actually right for you and your business. That’s when you can make some adjustments and repeat this step until you get it perfect.
Your brand is not what you say it is…
With the space you want to own defined, it’s time to ask your audience for their opinion. This will help underline, or undermine, your current strategic positioning.
So ask your customers, ask the people who follow you online, ask anyone who matters to your business, including your employees, to sum you (the business) up in two words and see if they correlate with the two you chose. Now you can do this via social media, an email newsletter, a Live video, whatever medium you think is best.
This is especially powerful as it will provide you with fantastic insights into how your customers view your business. So while you might think that a certain area is your core strength and focus, they might highlight another you haven’t really considered.
You can then see what you believed you were communicating, the space you were intending to own, vs. the space you actually do own. Work can then begin on bringing those two into alignment. In fact, you can spend the next 30 days repositioning your messaging and communications to see if you can change what your audience thinks about you.
This allows you to not only become better at owning your space, but also understanding it more intricately. In my experience, there’s a great depth of learning that comes from this and although we can be very surprised and even disappointed, that’s okay because it’s all learning. Sometimes, it shows us an opportunity we never even thought of, and that’s really powerful!
A Brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is!
This absolutely brilliant one-liner is a quote from a guy that I follow called Marty Neumeier. The bottom line is your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they (your customers) say it is.
In this journey to ensure we have strong brands, we first need to know who we are and then find a way to communicate that very clearly. So that on the other end of all our communication, your customers and the wider market not only hears it, but understands it clearly. And if we’re lucky they embrace it and share it on our behalf. That’s the goal remember – “Great Marketing is Your Truth Shared”.
Here’s my closing question for you: What did you discover after carrying out the exercise in today’s blog? What’s your Brand Space? Do they say it’s yours too? Do you need to do some tweaking?
I’d love to hear your feedback. Kindly share it with me by commenting on this blog, or emailing me. Whatever is easiest for you.