How to Define Your Purpose & Position Your Brand for Success

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All brands, whether corporate or personal, become stronger (and more powerful) when their focus is narrowed. But for most of us, the challenge is that the closer we are to the brand (especially if it’s a personal brand), the harder it is to determine our direction, define our uniqueness, or narrow our positioning.

In fact, many times as our businesses grow it’s easy to lose track of our purpose and even become untethered from our “why” – and that can quickly spell disaster.

So, in building both a strong foundation for our business and our brand, it’s vital that we are:

  1. Connected with the purpose of the work we are doing.
  2. Positioned and set apart from our peers.

1. Define Purpose

When it comes to doing anything related to our brand – from building a new website to crafting a new product offering – we should make sure we are always tethered to our “why”.

Start by working your way through the following “Purpose Statement“:


I am [ creating this content ] for [ my audience ] to help them ______ and _______. I hope this content will help them _______, _______, and _______.

When you can define this statement, you’re ready to proceed with the work of creating a positioning statement, building a new website, or just about anything else – but not until.

Your purpose statement solidifies the intent for the work you are doing and becomes the lens that all your work (be it content creation or new business opportunities) must align with.

Additionally, understanding this “why” will allow you to tailor your content to a specific audience who will want and need what you have to offer.

The process of crafting your Purpose Statement should not be taken lightly. Once its completed it will be carved in stone for a very long time. Make sure that whatever you come up with will stand the test of time and is something you can live with.

Going Deeper with Your “Why”
Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” is a great resource if you want to go deeper with this concept of “why” and better understand what your “why” really is. I also recommend Simon’s “Discover Your Why” online training course as an exercise that’s sure to provide additional insights for you and those around you. It’s well worth the time.

2. Position Yourself

Step 1: Craft a Positioning Statement

Often referred to as an “elevator pitch,” this simple framework establishes your brand’s focus and reinforces the benefits of that focus to your prospective clientele.

In the end, your positioning should dovetail seamlessly with your Purpose Statement.

Almost all positioning statements can be broken down into the following format:


[ Person or Organization ] is the/a [ leading* ] [state your expertise or business focus ] on/to the [ state your marketplace (geographic, horizontal, vertical, etc.) ].

*You don’t have to use the word “leading” but try to find a word that establishes credibility, relevance (and dominance) based on your particular focus or niche. In this case it’s appropriate to “toot your own horn,” so don’t shy away from asserting your relevance and expertise here.

Note that this statement may be aspirational. Not everyone is the leading expert in their niche, but you should position yourself in that way. If you’re having trouble with this concept, try to think of this as something akin to a vision statement.

Example for a Company:
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.

Example for a Personal Brand:
Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States.

Step 2: Craft a Reassurance Statement

Next, you’ll create a “Reassurance Statement” that supports the positioning you’ve solidified for your organization using this formula:


[ We/I ] help [ our clientele ] to [ benefit #1 ] and [ benefit #2 ].

Example for a Company:
Positioning Statement: Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.

Reassurance Statement: We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.


Example for a Personal Brand:
Positioning Statement: Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States.

Reassurance Statement: Dr. Jones helps children afflicted with the disease of childhood obesity achieve optimum weight and metabolic health.


Variations on the Reassurance Statement
There are often expansions or variations on the Reassurance Statement:

Example for a Company:
Positioning Statement: Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.

Reassurance Statement: We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.

Variations or additions to the reassurance statement might include:

  • An identification of the offerings you provide: (e.g.: We build online communication programs to help insurers and their agents to retain employees…)
  • Referencing your history: (e.g.: For 25 years we have been working with insurers and their agents to retain employees…)

The Complete Positioning Statement

Example for a Company:
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry. We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.

Example for a Personal Brand:
Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States. Dr. Jones helps children afflicted with the disease of childhood obesity achieve optimum weight and metabolic health.

Once you have crafted and are comfortable with your positioning and reassurance statements you should craft a “conversational version” of this statement so it can pass the “elevator test”…


The Elevator Test

Many times positioning statements sound great on paper, but sound stiff and lack conversational appeal when spoken.

It’s important that once you create your positioning statement that you have a version that flows well when spoken. For example, if you really were meeting someone in an elevator for the first time, how would it sound?

Here’s an example of what a spoken version of a positioning statement might look like:

“Hi, my name is Bill Smith and I own Smith & Associates – we’re the leading corporate communications firm for the insurance industry. Our primary focus is to help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance. We’ve been in business for a little over 25 years. Last year we opened a new office in Portland where we are expanding our operations to include media relations and advertising placement…”


Conclusion

Key Elements of a Positioning Statement
  • Positioning Statements are concise and succinct.
  • Your positioning should be compelling.
  • Positioning Statements should be slightly aspirational. Very few of us are the leading expert in our industry or niche, but we aspire to be the best so we should position ourselves in that way.
  • It should always be very easy for a prospect or visitor to identify that they are NOT a fit for your organization or services once they hear your positioning statement.
  • It should be easy for someone to retain and recall your positioning statement and/or focus after they have met you. If you make your positioning too complex or include too many benefits in your reassurance statement you make it too hard to retain.
  • Positioning statements should pass the “elevator test.”

Final Considerations:

  • Once identified, your Positioning Statement should be carved in stone along with your Purpose Statement while the Reassurance Statement can be adapted or narrowed over time.
  • You should be able to conversationally regurgitate your Positioning and Reassurance Statements at any time.

Places to employ your Positioning Statement:

  • Website (front page in a prominent location – one of the first things people will read)
  • Personal introductions (spoken version)
  • Speeches (spoken version)
  • Marketing Materials
  • Telephone Introductions (spoken version)
  • Email Introductions

    I help speakers, authors, and online thought leaders focus their brand and build a thriving business. I am the founder and CEO of the marketing and brand alignment firm, Infusion. I am married and have two children. I live near Kansas City and I work with clients around the United States and abroad. I am also the designer of over 500 brands and experiences. Learn more about me ...