Having a solid brand position is the price to play for any serious brand. But most positioning misses the truly game-changing opportunity that exists for any organization. Here’s why. We approach brand positioning like a business exercise. Rationally delineating the elements that construct that position. We ask things like, “Who is the audience?” And, “What is their unmet need?” It all feels so cold and clinical.
The thing is that us humans aren’t cold and clinical. We’re emotional. And irrational. Trying to apply a clinical, rational process to us is simply unnatural. If we want a game-changing brand position, then we need to at least be asking different questions.
Instead of asking, “Who is the audience?”, we should ask, “Who are we serving?” This changes our mindset from one of ‘targeting’ to one of providing something that is relevant and meaningful to those who are more than just a bogey to be conquered.
I have 7 questions that transform the brand positioning process, making it more relevant, meaningful, and effective. These 7 questions respect that this isn’t a business exercise. It’s a human discovery.
The most powerful of these 7 questions is the one that asks, “what difference can you make in a life, a community, or even the world?” It’s what I call the Big Audacious Meaning.
That question can seem daunting. But the truth is that our brand already has the answer. It’s in our DNA. It may be buried. It may need to be excavated. But it’s in there.
Uncovering that brilliant brand position
Most brands fail to excavate the Big Audacious Meaning. I had the leader of one organization tell me it was too ambitious for them. I get that some organizations feel like they are not ready to embrace their purpose. The thing is that it’s not about becoming the next Toms Shoes or Patagonia (although that would be awesome!) No, clarifying a purpose does something pretty transformative. It supercharges our positioning. Even if we feel like we’re not ready to put our purpose front and center just yet.
It changes how we think about those we hope to serve. And it changes how we think about what we deliver to them.
I had a bank client that experienced this transformation. By clarifying its purpose, the bank discovered that it could help people have a different relationship with their money. It was no longer about being prudent or frugal (that sounds like something a stern father makes you do.) It was about finding a harmony that made life easier. It recognized that decisions about money create ripples across all areas of our lives. And that, by helping people have a better relationship with their money, the bank could help them bring a little happiness into their days — or at the very least, a sense of peace. That led to exceptional brand messaging and results that exceeded expectations.
The surprising thing for this organization was that this wasn’t something it had to invent. It had all the elements of delivering this already in who it was. It simply needed to stop and clarify it’s Big Audacious Meaning.
This opportunity exists for every brand. It’s there, lurking in the DNA. When we shine a light on it, we discover just how brilliant we could be.
Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.