The Strategic Brand

[From Exaggerations and Lies of a Sailor’s Life in Marketing, another book I’m working on]


In earlier posts I write about the hows and whys of strategic brand positioning. This one’s about the WHEN…

Timing in positioning is every bit as important as timing in things ranging from winemaking to racing sailboats. In sailing, for example, racers zig-zag behind the starting line, with a goal of crossing not to early and not to late after the assigned start. (Hulls are assigned a PHRF rating enabling dissimilar classes to compete and you official start time is based on so many seconds or minutes after the air horn announces it’s go time.)

But back to adding a section on strategic brand positioning into that business plan of yours…

Positioning Strategy (strategic brand positioning) is a valuable marketing tool often either misunderstood or completely left out. For instance, I had lunch with a group from the local business community today, including a young guy offering Internet based marketing services for “mom & pops”. His pitch was peppered with the word “branding” but he said zilch about the essential components: target modeling, competitive set analysis, the value proposition and its corresponding USP, the brand message and brand personality. And that’s sad. There’s no reason the small business community shouldn’t use these tools. Most can afford the cost of a one-on-one consulting session to set them up.

And, too, “mom and pops” can certainly deploy strategic positioning immediately and at virtually zero cost.

For instance, in sales letters and phone calls. In hiring and office decoration. In the way sales processes are structured. In what color ties the men wear. Or if they even wear them. And far deeper than that (website, ads, trade shows, etc). Let’s not forget public relations either. B2B. B2C. Online and off.

More information about positioning and other marcom tools is here to be found if you’re interested. Today I’m just “teeing up” my very strong recommendation that you don’t sit out the dance so long the band has gotten tired.

Bottom line: begin strategic brand development as early as possible, before your tagline and logo too). Start fleshing it out on scraps of paper and carry them around wherever you go. Be like a crazy person carrying food the pigeons.

If you don’t, you’ll be unhappy later when you realize you failed to make your first impression as it needed to be. And then you’ll really go crazy spending more time and money undoing and fixing what’s already been done.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill