In his 1521 military treatise, “The Art of War”, Florentine philosopher and politician Niccolo Machiavelli forever changed warfare strategy by instituting new concepts for battle formation and positioning. His medieval message is enduring advice for modern day business, because on the battlefield for market share, brands compete fiercely for position. They maneuver to capture and control a unique and desirable “space” in the consumer’s mind. They compete for the consumer’s wallet. Brands that are victorious look outward, beyond their own internal product strengths, focusing on fulfilling a consumer need. They deliver a meaningful benefit.
Artillery: Brand Benefit
Your product has important features that can be leveraged into benefits. Take Solterra Foods for example. Their spicy, aromatic jams and relishes rouse the senses and taste buds. Certainly, many products make similar promises, but Solterra delivers more artillery on its way up a “ladder” of higher level benefits. Its fresh and lively taste leads to artistic expression, to feelings of warmth, and then energy. Its benefits are emotional, more than simple product features of taste and flavor. This makes a stronger connection with the consumer.
Stake Your Position
Your product begins to become a brand when it fulfills a promise to deliver something valued. It must convert its internal features (like spicy, aromatic flavors) to a consumer-meaningful benefit (like energy). Solterra’s promise is that its “gourmet creations will energize you and your culinary expressions”. On the jam and relish battlefield, Solterra has staked out a position that differentiates the brand. But on its march to becoming a brand it needs more…
Fortify the Brand
…More, as in personality, character, and imagery. For Solterra, inspiration comes from its Mediterranean heritage, and visual imagery and feelings of warming sun (sol) and nurturing earth (terra). A product comes to life and finally becomes a brand when its positioning is fully communicated…and when the consumer is captured.
1. Know your own strengths and capabilities, as well as your customers’ needs.
2. Map your competitors’ positions and the benefits their brands provide.
3. Look for unmet customer needs. These are “gaps” or opportunities on the positioning battlefield.
4. Prepare your brand. Make sure it’s positioned to communicate uniqueness and it strikes a nerve with your customer.
5. Prepare for battle. Marshall all your resources, and carry the same brand message under one banner.