Identify an Enemy

Identify an Enemy

It is often more effective to motivate people to change their behavior by making them aware of an enemy. An enemy is a potential threat (real or assumed) that can help the brand gain relevance and create a sense of urgency. Examples might include: raising awareness of the germs surrounding your children that you dont see orthe concept of freezer burn that (supposedly) is bad for your food Or the awareness could be about a group of people or an industry (for example the Truth anti-smoking campaign focusing on the corporate executives of the tobacco industry). Or the enemy could be as simple as a feeling-the social rejection you might face by not choosing a specific brand. These consequences can range from functional to social and the most relevant type of enemy will depend on the people you re trying to reach and what they actually might fear.

  • What problem (or problems) does your brand solve?
  • What are the potential negative consequences associated with this problem or problems that your consumer might not be aware of?
  • What threat is a consumer exposed to by not using your brand?
  • Are there some negative consequences for not using your brand or category?
  • Can you dramatize (visualize, name, etc.) this threat to make it more tangible for consumers
  • Leverage The brand's Usage Context

    Leverage The brand's Usage Context

    Most of the brand's we buy are loaded with social meanings that are specific to a special environment or context (the liquor brand or type you had to choose when celebrating a special occasion versus the one you drink at dinner). Understanding the social meaning associated with the brand in that context (or the meaning consumers look for in that context) creates a tremendous storytelling opportunity (Molson USA Twin Labels). Further, understanding the potential barriers consumer might face to consume the brand in that specific context will create additional opportunities to positioning your brand.

  • What is the typical occasion and place where your brand is consumed?
  • Where do people experience the brand? What needs and desires do people have in that context?
  • What emotions do people typically feel in those moments?
  • How do they feel consuming the brand?
  • What meaning is associated with those moments?
  • What do they communicate about themselves when consuming the brand there?
  • What potential fears or barriers do people have in that specific context?
  • What role would your brand need to play in that context to either tap into those desires or help consumers overcome their fears?
  • Share your Creation Story

    Share your Creation Story

    A story about the way a product (or brand) is built and created might help enhance its benefit or add to the brand's appeal. This could involve a discussion of the process itself, or certain aspects of that process. These aspects could be things like the speed -or lack of speed- (for example vegetables shock frozen within 4 hours after harvesting to maintain all its goodness), the type of tools/machine or craftsmanship or exclusive patents being used (German Reinheitsgebot).Another potentially powerful option is to focus on the type of people who create the product, and their character, dedication, craftsmanship, etc. (Jack Daniels).

  • Does the way the product is made or manufactured provide a compelling storyline?
  • How is the product manufactured, where and by whom?
  • Using what ingredients in what sequence and time frame?
  • Is there something unique or different about the way the product is produced?
  • Re–define Your Business

    Re–define Your Business

    Re–framing your brand's category around the broader consumer needs, motivations and conventions often produces a new set of opportunities and more inspiring competitors against which to position your brand. Hallmarks broader business could be defined as the gifting business as opposed to the greeting card business (making a personalized card a better gift alternative that an ugly tie, for example). A drink can be positioned very differently depending on how its business is defined and what needs it tries to satisfy: compare fruit juices and sodas, or thirst quenchers and energy drinks?

  • Look at your category with fresh eyes– find the bigger picture.
  • Ask yourself- what business am I really in?
  • If my brand's category didnt exist, what other category might consumers choose to satisfy their needs?
  • What are the basic and broad human needs and wants your category fulfills?
  • Are there adjacent categories that might fulfill these needs and deliver these benefits?
  • What are the key dimensions and dynamics of these categories?
  • Who would the competitors be in this newly defined category?
  • What new attributes, dimensions, and characteristics would define this category?
  • What advantages and benefits does your brand provide in the context of this new category?
  • Which of those advantages or benefits can be meaningful and motivating for consumers?
  • Ultimately, which position could your brand occupy in this new category and what attributes, values and experiences would it have to be associated with.
  • Create a Sense of Scarcity & Exclusivity

    Create a Sense of Scarcity & Exclusivity

    People generally value and cherish something even more if there is some sort of scarcity associated with the product, its components or the way it is put together. Scarcity and exclusivity can be applied to every single element of the marketing mix and include the product (or service) itself, the user base (Abercrombie & Fitch only wants to appeal to and dress the cool kids in school), the ingredients or components (Knob Creek), the process or technologies (or patents) used to create the product, the distribution, etc. Scarcity also can apply to the companys core focus

  • What scarcity or exclusivity story can your brand tell?
  • Can this scarcity elevate the perceived appeal of the benefit or the brand?
  • Romance the Way the Product Works

    Romance the Way the Product Works

    Products within the same category might deliver the key benefits differently. Or, they could work similarly but could benefit from telling a more differentiating and compelling story about how the product works or performsA story about the way the product works is more powerful when it ties directly back to the products main benefit (ex. Dyson doesnt lose suction).

  • Does telling consumers how the product works differentiates orenhance the appeal of the brand?
  • Could telling consumers how the product works elevate the brand's benefit to a new level?
  • Or, could it enable the brand to claim a different type of benefit?
  • Could focusing on how the product works enable the brand to tell an interesting story on how the benefit is delivered (for example works in harmony with the bodys chemistry in the skin care industry)?
  • Create a Brand Ritual

    Create a Brand Rituals

    A brand can enhance its perceived appeal by trying to ritualize its use and by creating rituals around the brand's actual consumption. In fact, research shows that people who ritualize their consumption (or use) of a brand find the experience more rewarding and enjoyable. Providing meaning to the branded ritual also provides a great storytelling opportunity. The ritual of pouring the perfect beer (and the meaning associated with it, e.g. the Stella Artois 9 step pouring ritual), dunking an Oreo in milk with a loved one or squeezing a lime into a Corona are all powerful rituals used to enhance a brand's story.

  • What specific steps or acts could be associated with the preparation or consumption of your brand?
  • What emotional transformation (that would enhance the actual experience of the brand) should these acts lead to?
  • What brand story can you tell consumers to give meaning to those acts.
  • Resolve a Category Problem or Paradox

    Resolve a Category Problem or Paradox

    Most categories have unresolved problems that consumers find frustrating but have learned to accept(the poor air travel experience for example).Or instead of problems, the category might have unresolved paradoxes (healthy, organic food is expensive). For example,electric cars supposedly have poor design and performance, and high-performing cleaning products are thought of as not eco-friendly. Solving these problems (Dyson doesnt lose suction) or resolving these paradoxes (Methods eco-friendly cleaning products) provide powerful opportunities for brand's.

  • What are the important consumer frustrations in your category?
  • How well do consumers think todays products address these needs?
  • What is the typical problems consumers face in your category?
  • How often, and under what circumstances, do these problems appear?
  • How important are these problems?
  • After having identified the most important problems, how can your brand help address or solve those problems?
  • What trade-offs in benefit must consumers make when purchasing your category or brand?
  • What are the biggest paradoxes in your category that your brand can help resolve?
  • Claim the Gold Standard

    Claim the Gold Standard

    Most categories have a so called gold standard, an ideal in the collective perception of what a product should be or should be associated with, the values and moods it would be associated with, the ideal usage context, etc. In the U.S. the gold standard for pizzas is home delivery. In Italy it might be Grandma shomemade pizza. The gold standard for orange juice is freshly squeezed. Claiming that gold standard (Its not delivery, its DiGiorno) and the meaning associated with it (if possible) or positioning yourself as the next best alternative to this gold standard can provide a powerful positioning platform.

  • What is the gold standard in your category?
  • What meaning (attributes, moods, need states, usage context, etc.) are currently associated with this gold Standard? What meanings could be associated with this standard?
  • Of those, which are the most relevant and meaningful to your consumers?
  • Or, if you cant credibly leverage some of the gold standard associations, can you credibly position yourself against them?
  • Stimulate the Senses

    Stimulate the Senses

    A great opportunity for brand positioning arises when a benefit or meaning can be tied to something the consumer can personally experience with his/her senses. This could mean your products feel, touch, smell, overall consistency and texture or overall impression and feeling. The objective here is to provide meaning to the sensorial experience (sitting higher in an SUV giving you a stronger sense of control, Apples clean design and user experience being pleasantly intuitive and easy to use).and to use the sensorial experience as a way to enhance the perceived benefit (the feeling of clean teeth, more examples here). What is most important here is to closely tie the sensory experience back to a core product benefit- it is important to not only describe the experience, but make clear what it means.

  • How is your product perceived through the senses?
  • What sense does it stimulate? Or doesnt?
  • What is the overall (tangible) feeling when using the product?
  • How does the sensory experience create that feeling?
  • Can you tie this differentiating feeling or sensory stimulation back to the benefit of the brand?
  • Submit Your Brand To a Torture Test

    Submit Your Brand To a Torture Test

    The quality of a brand is often best dramatized under its most extreme usage conditions or by those who need it or rely on it the most. Well assume that if a brand performs well under those most difficult conditions or for the most demanding customers, it will be good enough (or authentic enough) for us to use in our everyday lives. Jeep can climb the highest mountains and handle the toughest terrain (its trail rated), LL Bean tests its clothing under the most extreme weather conditions, Duracell is trusted by those who cant afford to lose power in critical moments (firefighters, rescue teams, etc.).

  • What would be the most extreme conditions or circumstances you could believably create to use or test your brand?
  • What situations can you think of where you would not want your product to fail?
  • Who would be the most demanding users for your brand?
  • Who are the people who rely or depend the most on the performance of your product?
  • In what most extreme situations?
  • Be Part Of Culture

    Be Part Of Culture

    Strong brand stories often resolve a tension between individuals and the culture they live in. Eating red meat is increasingly perceived as unhealthy. Women struggle with their self-image because of the beauty standards portrayed in media (Dove campaign for real beauty).Culture is the set of beliefs, values and behaviors that define a specific group of people at a specific point in time. It is critically important to understand this culture, its key players and its various elements (beliefs, values, and behaviors), as well as the frustrations and tensions it may create. Doing so,can provide new opportunities to either demonstrate how a brand already belongs to this specific culture, how it differentiates itself from this culture or how it can help relieve a frustration or tension between the individual and the culture.

  • What culture (or sub-culture) do I want my brand to be part of, or differentiate itself from?
  • What are the relevant core beliefs, values, and behaviors define this culture or sub-culture?
  • How can your brand claim or participate (or cooperate with key players within this culture) in this culture in a way that will make it look more appealing to the members of this culture?
  • How might people in the culture use your brand to communicate truths about themselves to others?
  • How can your brand distance itself from a mainstream culture and create its own niche or become part of a sub-culture?
  • Is there an appealing sub-culture that your brand could become part of instead?
  • Which beliefs, values, or behaviors could it attack?
  • What frustration or tension could your brand help relieve?
  • Celebrate the Ingredients

    Celebrate the Ingredients

    The ingredients, components or technology of a product, can often provide a strong platform for a differentiating brand story and add needed relevance and appeal to a brand. The story can be about the ingredients and their individual benefitsor about the actual lack of specific ingredients (hormone free). The story could also involve the way the ingredients interact with other properties of the product or how they help deliver the overall benefit of the brand (think Hemi, Shimano gear or Intel inside). The ingredient can already be branded (Tide with Downy) or not.

  • What are the ingredients, components or functionalities that make up your brand?
  • Is one of them highly differentiating and can it be highlighted and used to tell a powerful story on its own?
  • Do they help enhance the key benefit?
  • If yes how so?
  • Is the product defined by a lack of ingredients that can usually be found in the category that make it better (Organic)?
  • Identify Your brand's Defining Attributes

    Identify Your brand's Defining Attributes

    Attributes are inherent characteristics, peculiarities or distinctive features of a brand. The type of attributes will vary by category and brand but could be product related, the price (Stella Artois, Reassuringly Expensive), the user imagery, feelings or experiences associated with the brand, the brand personality (Southwest Airline for example), benefits, etc. A brand can increase its appeal and tell a more interesting story by owning a specificattribute relevant to a category (for example the longevity benefit in the battery category). If competition already owns an appealing attribute, a brand can try to own the opposite attributes(the classic versus the new choice for example), or the lemming-like behavior of the Apple fans (part of Apples negative user imagery) versus the more conscious smarter choices (Samsung).

  • Which attributes are the most important for consumers?
  • What attributes define your brand?
  • Which ones are different from competition and unique to your brand?
  • Which ones are similar?
  • Do the attributes reinforce the benefit?
  • Can the attributehelp deliver the benefit in a new and different way?
  • If a key competitor already owns an appealing attribute, can you claim or own the opposite and turn it into something.
  • Tap into Consumer Rituals

    Tap into Consumer Rituals

    Our lives are filled with rituals that represent opportunities to position a brand. These rituals can be big (wedding, etc.) or small (getting ready in the morning, winding down after work, Sunday night family dinner, getting ready to party, etc.), performed daily or are specific to life stages, individual or collective. They usually involve a sequence of actsperformed in a particular situation and in the same way each time. Rituals can provide a strong opportunity to position a brand as they usually imply a transformation from one mental or emotional state to another (from wound up to relaxed, from lonely to connected, from single to married, etc.).

  • What rituals do your consumers perform in their everyday lives or at key life stages?
  • Which one would be the most relevant for your brand?
  • What specific steps or acts does a consumer go through when performing this specific ritual and in what sequence?
  • What mental or emotional transformation is the consumer going through by performing this ritual (from to)?
  • What benefit can your brand help deliver or claim in that context?
  • What meaning and values does your brand need to be associated with to be able to play this role in an authentic way?
  • Overcome Consumption Barriers

    Overcome Consumption Barriers

    Potential barriers (real or perceived) may prevent consumers from buying your product. They might perceive a brand as being too expensive. Maybe their self-image doesnt align with the typical user imagery of a brand. For example, young adults may not see themselves reflected inthe stereotype of the Harley Davidson rider described as OWGs (Old White Guys). Or, they could have a misperception about the category or the brand that prevents them from buying it (dating sites are only for perverts and losers). Maybe there is a social stigma associated with the category (hair growth products, some personal care or hygiene products). Understanding those barriers and identifying the biggest can provide interesting insight on how to position your brand and tackle those barriers.

  • What is preventing your potential consumers from purchasing or accessing your brand?
  • List all the barriers you can come up with?
  • Identify the biggest?
  • Can those barriers be addressed by the brand and the way it is positioned?
  • Identify Your brand's Purpose

    Identify Your brand's Purpose

    A brand can tell a powerful story by focusing on its purpose. What are the core values and drivers for the brand? What was driving the brand's founder(s)? What is it passionate about?In other words, what is its distinct reason for being and the positive impact it seeks to make in the world (Chipotles Cultivate a Better World, Methods We are all good). Not only does highlighting this provide a strong potential platform consumers can identify with and embrace, it can also help guide all the brand initiatives. Defining a strong brand purpose also involves defining what higher order value the brand will provide to consumers and will generally include a section on how the brand will help achieve this higher order value in a more tangible way.

  • Why does the brand exist?
  • What are the brand's core beliefs and values?
  • What values and guiding principles drive the activities and choices of this company, either now or historically?
  • Why was the company created in the first place, and what drove its founder(s)?
  • What does the brand passionately care about?
  • What higher order value will it add to consumers lives?
  • What does the brand exist to do?
  • How does WHAT the brand does and HOW it does it tie into the larger picture of WHY
  • Emphasize the brand's Benefit

    Emphasize the brand's Benefit

    Telling a strong benefit story, a story about how the product can make consumers life better, is generally the most powerful story a brand can tell. The most powerful positioning stories are based on either benefits new for the category, new levels of benefit (Walmarts Save Money, Live Better) or new combination of benefits that resolve a key category paradox (Method Cleaning Products, Clean Happy). The benefits can be functional, emotional, psychological, social or a combination there of.

  • What is the positive outcome, the benefit, consumers can expect by buying or using your brand?
  • Can people do without?
  • How do consumers feel after using your brand?
  • How is that different from competitors?
  • What new benefit can be introduced to the category?
  • Is there a new level of benefit that can be introduced to the category?
  • What category paradox can be resolved by the brand (Tesla adding design and speed to the electric cars category)?
  • Is your brand's main benefit currently aligned with peoples needs and motivations?
  • Is it aligned with their values and lifestyles?
  • If it isnt, can you make your brand more appealing by aligning the benefit it provides with what matters to people?
  • Identify Shared Values

    Identify Shared Values

    Our values are centrally held beliefs, principles, or standards of behavior. They guide our judgment of what is important and worthwhile in life. They help shape our perception of our ideal selves, and help us define the set of attributes that we aspire to. Values matter because they influence and even determine our behaviors, our lifestyles and our brand choices. Aligning a brand's core values with the values that guide your consumers lifestyle, judgments and actions can lead to powerful narratives for your brand (for example Citibank, live richly or I am Canadian from Molson Canadian beer).

  • Which of your consumers core values are relevant directly or indirectly within your specific category?
  • Which of the core values driving the brand's actions and behaviors would best match these core consumer values?
  • Is there one value that is the most relevant?
  • Looking at those two sets of core values, what narratives and positioning territories emerge?
  • Identify your Brand's Archetype

    Identify your Brand's Archetype

    Archetypes are models of people, behaviors, and personalities that tap into specific and universal core desires, drives, fears, and motivations all humans have (example Hero vs Jester). They are believed to represent humanitys collective dreams, yearnings, and patterns of thinking, and they help us organize how we experience our lives. Identifying and clearly defining your brand and category archetypes can help you unlock powerful new growth opportunities and help illuminate the proper role for your brand to play in peoples lives. A well-known example of a brand archetype would be Harley-Davidson (Outlaw).

  • What core motivations and desires do your consumers try to satisfy by using your category (generic category archetype)?
  • What are the core drivers and motivations for choosing your brand specifically?
  • How about your competitors?
  • Do the generic category motivators apply to your brand?
  • Which archetype best corresponds to this set of desires (see list below)?
  • What characteristics are associated with those archetypes?
  • What implications does this archetype have for your brand positioning and your brand story?
  • For an overview of the main archetypes and the core motivations associated with them click here

    Disrupt the Category Conventions

    Disrupt the Category Conventions

    Most categories operate based on specific assumptions and follow a certain set of conventions that made sense in a given context and that usually have proven successful in the past. The way the brand is communicated (Got Milk?), the type of experience it offers (Cirque Du Soleil), the type of imagery used, specific consumer segments (more style and fashion conscious people for Dyson), the media selected to reach consumers, the distribution channels used and so forth. Disruptive growth, however, can come from making the strategic decision to not follow the herd. Opportunities can come from looking at how your competitors operate and what they have in common, and systematically commit to challenging those norms.

  • What are the conventions of your category and the specific assumptions on how to successfully market a brand in your category (this can be the way the benefits and reasons to believe used to communicate the brand's, user imagery, core category users, media channels used to reach them, distribution channels, etc.)?
  • Make a list that would be relevant for your specific situation.
  • Which of these conventions seem like sacred cows that cant be changed?
  • Which conventions can be challenged and how can they be challenged?
  • What could this mean for your brand and its positioning?
  • Let Expert tell Your Story

    Let Expert tell Your Story

    brand's can usually greatly benefit by highlighting their specific expertise(for example Boses expertise in sound), but they can also greatly benefit from the endorsement of external and independent experts to validate their claims. In fact, people often use short cuts when making brand decisions and for some people an expert endorsement can provide this short cut by enhancing the perceived appeal of the brand. Experts can either endorse the brand (Hills Pet Foods, most recommended by vets), or actually be the ones using and relying most on your brand (they should know, they are the experts).

  • Who are the perceived experts in your category?
  • Who are the obvious ones, and the not so obvious ones (a ranger working under harsh weather conditions might be a great endorser for outdoor gear, or a Radio DJ endorsing a brand of pet food a la Purina One)?
  • Who would know best if your brand delivers what it claims (breeders for pet food?)?
  • Can they be described as experts?
  • Is there independent research that supports and validates your claims?
  • Give Meaning To The brand's Weakness

    Give Meaning To The brand's Weakness

    Sometimes a perceived weakness of the product can be turned into a strength by telling a story that helps change the way people think about it, or by adding meaning to this perceived weakness. For example-a slow pouring ketchup could be explained by the quality of the ingredients it contains, and a bad taste could be explained as a sign that you can actually feel it working and deliver the intended benefit. The purpose of the brand story here is to change the perceived weakness and turn it into a narrative that helps support and enhance the overall benefit.

  • Does your product have a perceived weakness or major negative in the way it looks, feels, tastes, is experienced, etc. that acts as a potential barrier?
  • What explains this weakness?
  • If you cant change it, what story can you tell about this weakness that would turn it into a strength and enhance the overall appeal of the brand?
  • Is there a group of people that likes your brand because of this perceived weakness?
  • Can they help you tell a more compelling story?
  • Dramatize the brand's Reward

    Dramatize the brand's Reward

    Understanding what drives people to purchase a specific category and/or choose a specific brand is the foundation of any successful positioning or brand story. People can be driven by the desire to satisfy a need (Take a Break, Take a Kitkat), fulfill a want, or more generally by the urge to improve their situation and lives (self-actualization). These need states and wants can be specific to a category (satisfying a food craving, Snickers Why Wait?) or more universal (the desire to be beautiful or feel loved). These needs and drivers can be physiological, functional, emotional, psychological or social. Or, they can simply be contextual.

  • Why are people purchasing your category?
  • Why are people choosing your brand?
  • Why do they choose your competitors?
  • When they purchase, what needs or wants are your customers trying to satisfy?
  • Are they category specific, or more universal?
  • What do your customers aspire to?
  • Why does that matter?
  • Are those needs and wants physiological, functional, emotional, psychological or social?
  • If the players in your category tend to focus on one or two types of reward (say emotional), would there be value in claiming a reward that falls into another category (say social)?
  • Romance the brand's Origins

    Romance the brand's Origins

    Where brand's and products come from, and the associations (real or created) people have of this origin can significantly influence and alter the way brand's and their products are perceived. Audi is German engineered, pasta is Italian, Fosters is Australian (How to speak Australian). This origin can be geographic (Volvic is drawn from deep inside the lush green ancient volcanoes of the Auvergne in France), a specific moment in time, etc. and will depend on your brand.

  • What origin can you trace your brand back to?
  • What meanings (explicit or implicit) are associated with this origin that would enhance the perception of your brand?
  • What associations could be created and attached to this origin in a credible way (something your consumers may not know but that would enhance the perceived value of the brand and its benefits?)
  • Brand Archaeology –Dig into Your brand's Past

    Brand Archaeology –Dig into Your brand's Past

    When a brand has been around for a longer period of time, when it has weathered recessions and big social changes and when it has managed to evolve culturally, the key to future growth can often be found in the brand's own history. Therefor digging in the brand's archives (literally) and listening to the stories both employees and consumers still share about the brandcan often reveal powerful positioning platforms and brand stories that are authentic to the brand, that often just need a little refreshing and that have the ability to appeal to a new generation of consumers.When your brand was first oin the market, and during its main growth periods, how did it talk about itself? What strategies and tactics did it use togrow the business? What emotions do consumers still associate with the brand and what stories do consumers and employees share about the brand? What advertising campaigns, promotions or icons have made the brand'successful?