A brand is an amalgam of beliefs and concepts. These beliefs are most often formed by messages a brand delivers. That being said, positioning a brand becomes an easy to understand concept whereby you identify who needs to hear what. It becomes a matter of creating a message about your brand that people can relate to and by identifying what you need to tell them. You can also create an overarching message about your brand – for example, Audi – Truth in Engineering.
To position a brand, you have to identify the stakeholders that make your business succeed. This overarching term is used to describe multiple niche groups including employees, investors, vendors, customers, government, regulators or media for example. Each of those stakeholder groups forms an opinion about your brand and is a link in the chain that forms your position and identity.You can shape that opinion by using targeted messaging. Carry those messages through taking advantage of social media, speaking engagements, hosting events, and publishing white papers; there are many ways to get your message delivered to your stakeholders.
Over time, as your brand matures, the perception of your brand in the mind of your target audience will become more consistent, building brand equity. This is crucial to running a business that people trust in the long term. All brands change their positioning as their needs change over time and as their business evolves. Sometimes, when a brand has strong brand equity, they are forced by their publics to change their messaging and to evolve as a business. If you can’t evolve, you’ll lose your business entirely.
Take McDonald’s. Health freaks seek and find completely different messages about McDonald’s than the average person does who enjoys McDonald’s. Over the past few years, the health messages outweighed McDonald’s brand messages, through the organic food craze, Supersize Me, shows like the Biggest Loser and people like Jamie Oliver. They challenged McDonald’s to be transparent about their food making practices and to bring in healthier options. In turn, the franchise was forced to change its brand positioning to the point that it revamped their menu to allow healthy substitutions in kids meals, added a plethora of salad options, and started listing the nutritional values of all of their food on their in-store menus for all to see.