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Getting to know your customers: Ten questions to ask before writing your brand positioning statement

Posted by Charlie Clement on Feb 24, 2016 12:08:18 PM
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Brand Research-Getting to  know your customersMaybe you’ve decided to re-brand. Or perhaps you’ve simply come to the conclusion that you need to get your company or brand’s messaging in order. So you’re wisely looking for guidance on developing a brand positioning statement. Either way, the best thing you can do to inform your work is to get the insights of your customers on how your brand is perceived and how it stacks up with regard to important attributes.

That’s because, in truth, your brand position — that one thing that is the essence of what your brand stands for — is actually awarded to you by your customers. Sure, there is plenty you can do to shape that perception, but in the end, what your customers and the marketplace already think about you is really your brand position. Which is exactly why it’s so important to get their insights before you start drafting your statement.

 The inward-facing nature of a brand positioning statement
It’s important to note that the brand statement you eventually craft will be primarily for you as the marketer of a brand and your employees as ambassadors for that brand. It will want to reflect your aspirations for what you want the brand to stand for in the minds of your customers and prospects in the marketplace. To that end, you want the statement to find that sweet spot where customer needs meet brand value and fit nicely together. Tag lines and the rest should be guided by the statement, but the statement comes first. (For more information on writing your statement, click here.) 

So here are some questions you can ask your customers that will help you get your arms around your current position, as well as the “open ground” in which you may be able to stake your strategic brand position.  (For more tips on the brand research process, click here.)

1. The all-important first question
There is one question we always start with when conducting a brand discovery study for our clients and that is: “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words (insert brand name)?” Even if they take a minute to think about it, the key here is to just wait in silence for them to respond. Whatever they say next is a pretty good indicator of the position you hold in the mind of that customer. Get the answers to that question from a good sample of customers (the more the better, though for small companies, a dozen or so can often provide telling information) and, all of a sudden, your real brand position may just reveal itself.

 Uncovering potential positions to claim
So what should you do if your current position is not one you want to live with going forward? Again, customer and prospect perceptions are the name of the game, so you’ll be better off choosing a position based on a perception they already have of your brand — or is at least plausible they could attach to you if you can make it an integral part of the customer experience and do the requisite communications to embed that thought in people’s minds. 

Given that as a goal, here are some other customer survey questions, the answers to which could provide valuable insights and direction for your brand statement:

  1. In general, what attributes are you looking for from a supplier/company/brand/etc. in this category?
  2. Is there any specific attribute of the brand that you find to be particularly valuable?
  3. What other brands can you name in this category? (It may be helpful if you ask to rank them).
  4. What comes to mind when you think of competitive Brand A, B, C etc.
  5. Is there anything in particular about the brand that helps you meet important (maybe even strategic) goals?
  6. What made you buy this brand/engage this company/etc. in the first place?
  7. What is the primary benefit you receive from — or working with — this brand?
  8. What do you think differentiates this brand from its competitors?
  9. Please rank the following attributes in order of their value or importance you, 1 being not valuable/important at all and 5 being extremely valuable:
  • Attribute 1
  • Attribute 2 etc.

Intentional redundance and its value to future marketing and communications
You’ll note that some questions are similar. That’s because asking similar questions in different ways can yield different answers, or at least different wording of answers. That’s helpful. Because when you get down to crafting your statement, you’ll want to use language that resonates with customers and the marketplace. It’s all about owning a desired position in the minds of customers and prospects. And the better job you do at matching their language, the better that position will serve you when it comes to writing a tag line, a web site or any other kind of marketing communications. Not mention the way you conceive and pay off the customer experience in ways that support your desired brand position.

 So once you have the list of questions you think will generate the information you need, call your sampling of customers (and prospects if you can identify them). Compile the answers by question and review them all, looking for threads that run through them. If you are at all analytical, you’ll probably be able to spot positions you have no chance of owning and a few you that just might do it for you. Pick one with a promise you feel confident you can deliver on and make that the central theme of your new brand position.

 And there you have it.

 Need further guidance? Get the free eBook.
Free eBook. Positioning: The Secret To Re-Branding.

For a free eBook on how to conduct your own brand research, click the button below to download a copy of Positioning: The Secret to Re-Branding. This easy-to-read eBook provides a blueprint to help your small- or medium-size business  conduct your own comprehensive 
brand discovery study . It includes:

  • Sample survey questions
  • Examples of brand positioning statements
  • Valuable process tips and
  • Traps to avoid in crafting a winning marketing position.


Download Free eBook

Other Resources

  • Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind. Written by Al Ries and Jack Trout in 1981, this classic book introduced the marketing world to whole idea of positioning — forever changing the course of advertising. 

Topics: Branding & Positioning

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