4. Avoid head-on confrontations with the market leader.
The brand with the most to lose is the market leader.
They”ll react very powerfully against newcomers, using all the resources at their disposal – wealth, fame and customers. The brand that is attacking the market leader, therefore, needs some valuable, attention-grabbing, distinguishing feature – and it must strongly convey this in messaging.
5. Consistency is essential.
Once a position has been taken, it needs to be consistently and unfailingly defended. More than that, it has to be actively developed or the potential benefits of occupying that position will erode.
6. Choose a powerful and simple message.
To be effective, the message needs to be clear, simple and consistent (such as Volkswagen launching the Beetle in the U.S. with the slogan Small is Beautiful; Mars Bars’ claim to help you Work, Rest and Play; Ford Motor Company’s efforts being Driven by You; and Coca-Cola remaining The Real Thing).
The message should strike a chord with the recipient. Often the best way to establish a position is to “go with the flow” and associate with an idea, issue or concern that may already be in people’s minds.
What does all this tell us about branding?
Primarily, there’s a lot hinging on perception. We can see this if we take a brief look at what makes a brand iconic. A brand isn’t just one-dimensional or an idea; it’s big and alive. It resonates in the marketplace; it engages imagination and trust; it transforms products and services into something relevant, unique and true.
As John Kay from the Financial Times describes, our perception of a brand allows us to share its values: “I am irresistible,” I say, as I put on my designer fragrance. “I am a merchant banker,” I say, as I climb out of my BMW. “I am a juvenile lout,” I say, as I pour an extra strong lager. “I am handsome,” I say, as I put on my Levi jeans.
Branding is all about perception, and perception drives our reputation. Brands are built and good or bad reputations earned, so let’s start building.