Is your brand Positioned to Thrive or Die after COVID-19?
Original: September 2019, Repurposed: March 2020, Update: May 2020
I don’t know about you but I personally cannot stand anymore “COVID-19 agitation” themed brands.
While taking up air time with awfully similar words, music and images they are competing for irritation let alone generate any kind of attraction.
And then there are the wasted budgets to top it all off…
So how are you differentiating yourself from this pack?
Does your brand have a UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION to the world?
Did you ask yourself this question given the new reality?
In other words, do you have a solid positioning strategy?
Positioning is owning a word, concept or category in the mind.
Like Google owns "Search", Tesla owns "Electric Car", Red Bull owns "Energy Drink".
It is to stand out in the mind of the customer.
It is to stand for something.
Positioning: Why is it important?
You can get away with not having a positioning strategy in an environment where there is no competition.
It’s easier to do whatever you like when the market is empty.
The problem starts with competition.
Having a sound positioning strategy has become more important in the 21st Century due to increased competition.
And in a global pandemic environment like COVID-19 it has become a matter of life and death like the pandemic itself!
Because crisis means even more competition.
Because crisis means more discerning customers.
Because crisis means not taking risk with brands you are not sure about.
Even though the solution to the crisis depends on global cooperation in a lot of areas, the winners in the business realm will still be those players who offer the most differentiated solutions to the market.
Speaking of competition it’s also important to bear in mind the following:
Especially during times of great change all those you are competing with for mind share are to be reckoned with. Therefore awareness at both macro (all industries) and micro (direct competitors) level has become important during this period.
Positioning: How should it be done?
At a time when panic and fear have soared thanks to uncertainty everybody is asking the experts the same questions:
What are your expectations for the COVID-19 aftermath?
What type of strategy should we pursue?
What advice do you have for sector X?
Nobody has a crystal ball, and we are suspicious of those who make predictions as if they do.
While various scenarios are being contemplated, any plan made without first considering competitors is meaningless and predicting what they will do is impossible.
There is only one way.
To stay flexible and to find your unique contribution which is relevant in the new reality and cannot easily be copied by competitors.
You have 3 options depending on your strengths, their relevance to the market and your time of entry:
1. To find a new unique position
2. To further clarify and polish your existing position
3. To design a repositioning strategy
If all the key positions are taken and you cannot make a difference, the other option is to focus your energy and money somewhere else.
“Strong companies will get stronger. Weak companies will get weaker. Many weak companies will go out of business. That’s not necessarily bad. Most categories have too many brands and too many companies.”
Al Ries, May 2020, in response to a question on COVID-19
In other words:
If it doesn’t Kill you it makes you Stronger!
You can formulate a strategy that will bring market share and profitable growth to the extent that you manage this process with proven positioning principles and the right teams.
Positioning: Who should do it?
I would like to draw your attention to a dangerous attitude which I have witnessed for over 25 years:
“The delegation of Positioning Strategy to design or advertising agencies.”
It’s important to remember the following by Harvard professor Michael Porter at this point:
“Strategy is Positioning.”
Used alone the word Strategy is understood as being for the whole company and the concern of top management. Positioning Strategy, spoken of as Brand Positioning, is either not understood at all or is seen as a subject specific to marketing and not the concern of the rest of top management.
Positioning should start and end with the CEO. The whole top management team should be involved. As Positioning determines the strategy for the whole business, it cannot be seen as a marketing specific issue, let alone be delegated to their agencies.
That being said, led by marketing, the department responsible for differentiating the company, it should be designed in the light of a process which involves key functions as well as strategic positioning consultants, leading to buy in from all during implementation of the strategic positioning.
What agencies need are clear briefs based on a clear positioning.
Most of the time positioning strategy formulation has ended up in the hands of agencies simply because it was not done and given to them by marketing departments in the first place.
It is more important than ever that you take control of this critical process now in order to come thriving out of this crisis.
You can use the support of experienced positioning experts on this journey.
Why is a sound positioning strategy more important than ever?
Because crisis means even more competition.
How should you design your positioning strategy?
By finding your unique contribution which is relevant in the new reality and cannot easily be copied.
Who should you design your positioning strategy with?
Starting and ending with the CEO, led by the CMO, with the participation of key functions and strategic positioning consultants.
You will see at the end of the process that the solution is simple and obvious; you might end up saying “why didn’t we think of that in the first place!”
If you need help in positioning your brands for market dominance and profitable growth I would be happy to support you.