We often cover a variety of digital marketing topics here at Pagely, but rarely do we (and others) mention the importance of branding. That ends today, as we draw from our own experience and the advice of others to help illustrate the importance of positioning your brand in a competitive space.
Every brand has its own strategy for standing out, and how you position your brand can change over time. Using notable quotes from experts in brand marketing, here are a few effective ways to position your brand.
If you want your audience to choose you over your competitors, you need to give them a reason to. As SapientNitro worldwide chief creative officer Gaston Legorburu so eloquently expressed “it’s not about having consumers adopt your values: “it’s about them relating to them and making connections,” he continues. “Really successful brand strategies are the ones where there’s a gift — a value set — and it really connects.”
Every business has a life-cycle that eventually comes to an end, but brands should always endure. Even when you’re faced with major product failure or revenue loss, your brand should guide you towards new futures. Brand Strategist Dave Holston says, “Products might fail, companies are bought and sold, and technologies change on a daily basis, but brands carry on through all these changes. Brands are the most sustainable asset of any organization and, when aligned with the overall strategy of the organization, become the central organizing principle for every decision.”
Marketing slogans and taglines are no longer enough. To create a truly enduring brand that stands out, you need to practice what you preach on the inside as well as the outside. Brandi Halls, Director of Brand Communication at LUSH North America, explains how LUSH differentiates itself in the extremely saturated natural cosmetics market. “Yes we make soap, but we also believe it’s our obligation to do so much more. This ignites a passion in our staff- they can discuss what they care about with customers all while selling bath bombs and body butter. Having these core values really does drive the passion of the company and it’s important to have staff whose ethics align with ours.”
It’s easy to get wrapped up in marketing jargon when we’re so dead set on selling a product. But failure to speak in human terms can actually disengage future customers — leading them closer to our competitors. Andrew Curry of The Futures Company says, “People are more willing to buy branded goods provided they are persuaded that they are getting value from them. And they need to be convinced of those benefits, in authentic everyday language, without being confronted by corporate-speak. Get it right, and you create a virtuous circle. Get it wrong, and you get punished for it.”
The world’s greatest brands all have something in common. But it isn’t a tangible object or feature; instead, it’s an essence that can’t be touched or described. Scott Bedbury of Nike agrees, saying “A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that connects with something very deep — a fundamental appreciation of mythology. Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.”
Times change, and if you want to stay relevant, so should your brand. Rather than losing sight of your brand values, however, use them to guide you towards meaningful transformation. Like Sir Richard Branson points out,”Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.”
Even with an award-winning product and a talented team, the ability to be remembered is the most important achievement of all. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie understands this from experience. He adds “when you have a memorable story about who you are and what your mission is, your success no longer depends on how experienced you are or how many degrees you have or who you know.”
You wouldn’t trust a person who was insincere, so why would you trust a brand that doesn’t feel real? The most trusted brands in the world achieved that status solely because they are real and authentic. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz believes in the power of authenticity. “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.”
Pagely created a unique subset of the overall hosting space in 2009 by being first to market with the concept of ‘Managed WordPress Hosting.’ As the popularity of WordPress has grown, so too has the abundance of managed WordPress hosts — which is to be expected in any growing industry.
The Idea: Being ‘first’ in something isn’t a train that you can ride forever, so over the years we’ve identified a number of differentiators that set us apart from our competition. This positioning has evolved towards one key theme: moving up-stream to focus on big brands and the top tier of the managed WP space.
This illustration highlights how we see our position in the market, where we are moving from A to B:
The main goal of this effort is to frame the conversation around WP hosting into 3 tiers, with Pagely and WordPress.com VIP at the top, the half a dozen mid-range players in the middle, and the plethora of affordable shared options at the bottom.
The Challenge: While we can talk all day long about where we think our brand fits in this space, that conversation ultimately needs to happen in other places. This shift isn’t news/PR worthy, and many of the WordPress review sites are driven by affiliate revenue, so our options are limited.
The Plan: Paying for this kind of exposure goes against our core principles (and just seems dirty), so the plan centers around outreach and engagement with our core audiences. Current customers, WordPress developers, agencies and a variety of industry professionals are all on our partner roadmap, where we look to provide mutual value and benefit without shady affiliate deals. We hope to engage these groups through content, outreach and related events, but know that these kinds of relationships can’t be rushed.
Very few businesses have the luxury of operating by themselves in their niche, and finding a way to stand out is essential for long-term growth. The more competitive your industry, the more important it is to incorporate branding into your overall marketing strategy.