All brands, whether corporate or personal, become stronger (and more powerful) when their focus is narrowed.
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:
- Connected with the purpose of the work we are doing.
- Positioned and set apart from our peers.
Consider completing this exercise as the first step on the journey to a defined and differentiated brand positioning:
1. Define Your 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 framework for a “Purpose Statement“:
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.
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 should be carved in stone and around 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.
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. Define Your Positioning
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 Statement should dovetail seamlessly with your Purpose Statement.
Almost all Positioning Statements can be built on the following framework:
*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. While not everyone is the leading expert in their niche, you should aspire to lead the pack.
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.
Positioning Statement 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 want to create a Reassurance Statement that supports the positioning you’ve solidified for your organization using this formula:
We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.
Reassurance Statement example for a Personal Brand:
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, such as:
- 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…
Step 3: Assemble the Complete Statement
The last step in the process is simply combining the Positioning and Reassurance Statements in a cohesive manner:
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry. For the last 25 years, we’ve helped insurers and their agents gain marketshare, retain the best employees, and inspire outstanding performance.
Example of a Complete Positioning Statement for a Personal Brand:
Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and adolescent prevention strategies in the United States. Dr. Jones is passionate about empowering children afflicted with the disease of childhood obesity and their families with life-changing strategies and solutions for achieving optimum weight and metabolic health.
Once you have crafted and are comfortable with your positioning and reassurance statements you might want to consider crafting a “conversational version” of this statement.
Conversational Version of the Positioning Statement
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:
Key Elements of a Positioning Statement:
- Positioning Statements are concise and succinct.
- Your positioning should be compelling.
- Positioning Statements should be slightly aspirational.
- 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.
- 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 have a conversational version of your Positioning Statement.
Places to employ versions 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