March 3, 2015
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Ready, Set, Win! Positioning Your Brand for Success

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, a clear, differentiated brand position is critical to defeating rivals and winning consumers’ hearts, minds and dollars. And, despite how complex the task may seem, it turns out that many of the key principles of positioning are the same as the ones used to run a race. Hopefully, you find this simple analogy helpful when tackling your next positioning exercise.

Imagine your brand is an athlete running in a two-mile competitive race… you’re on the starting line, the pack is thick and you’re boxed in about two people deep. Diagonal from you is the top racer in the country and beside you is a former Olympic athlete—the competition is fierce, to say the least. It’s not the best spot to be in, but you know exactly what you have to do in order to fight for a better position and put yourself in the ideal spot to win the race.

1. Visualize the Race

Many times the race is won before it even starts. By identifying where your rivals like to run on the track and becoming familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, you can decipher their competitive styles and visualize how the race will likely play out. This preparation is critical to help you optimize your strategy and give you the best chance at crossing the finish line in first place.

Action: Do the homework and look at the competition’s advertisements, claims and product offerings—a robust analysis sets the stage.

2. Run with Confidence

Once that starter pistol fires, stay true to your core values, trust your instincts and find your stride. Doubt and constant floundering will cause you to stumble and slowly drop back in the pack, one by one, until you are left in the dust of runners who are more certain of their strategies. A steady approach will ensure you don’t give up any hard-earned ground that you’ve won.

Action: Once you find a unique path, be consistent.

3. Sprint to the Front

Timing is everything. When you sense that your rival is going to make a move or that they’ve let their guard down, it’s time to go on the offensive. Identify your path, kick it into high gear and never look back.

Action: Take advantage of your competition’s weaknesses by uncovering consumer needs that they are failing to meet. Seize the opportunity by launching a new product, repositioning an existing one or responding with increased ad spending or promotional pricing.

4. Finish Strong

As you cross the finish line victorious, don’t forget to acknowledge all the supporters that have been cheering for you and helping you to get where you are. Stay in constant touch with your new fans and all of those loyalists who have been supporting you for years. Be honest, humble and transparent, showing them why they will love your new pace-setting positioning and asking them for their continued support.

Action: Solidify creative briefs to ensure the advertising/packaging execution matches your strategy. And, create conversation relevant for your target consumer, sharing news about your brand where your consumer is listening.

Once you win the race, go ahead and cherish your victory—but not for long. Now that you’re the one to beat, the expectations will be greater and the pressure will be more intense than ever. Old rivals and new entrants will constantly try to chase you down and pass you by. To stay on top, you’ll have to stay hungry and keep working for it—driving not only to beat the competition, but also to beat your personal best. That work may entail reassessing your strategy. So what’s the next race… and are you ready?

As a member of Seed’s Strategy team, Kate Mathers enjoys breaking boundaries and challenging the status quo in order to help clients develop innovation and strategic marketing initiatives that exceed their goals. 

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