Identifying a strong and usable brand involves both looking at yourself and looking outward to find a niche. In my first 10 questions, I focused on the introspective part of branding—helping to define yourself. These next 10 questions are aimed at discovering where there is an opportunity in the marketplace.
Questions to help you position your brand
- Who are your direct and closest competitors? By category, specialty, location, etc.
- How are you different? In some industries there are a lot of very close competitors: for example if you run a dry cleaner in a big city there are probably many, and you could differentiate yourself on location, price, service, etc.
- Who are you indirect competitors? For example, restaurants are also competing with grocery stores and magazines are competing with web sites.
- What would be involved to define and defend your unique brand, based on your answers to 1, 2 and 3? Are you able to articulate how you are different and would you be able to persuade potential clients of that difference?
- What position exhibits signs of an opportunity? In other words, is there an area that is lacking a leader and top brand that you could fill?
- What are people saying about your competitors that could be used to build your brand? This is a great way to use social media tools to help you recognize an opportunity. By talking (both face-to-face and virtually) to your potential clients you can learn what pains are still being felt and not addressed by those in the marketplace already.
- How would customers benefit from your brand? If you can’t articulate this, don’t expect the marketplace to be able to either.
- Is there a new category you can create to better position your brand? It’s best to identify a category that is small enough that you will be a recognized leader. I highly suggest reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding for a better understanding of this concept.
- What do you customers (or potential customers) think of you? This is a critical and often overlooked part of branding. Your perception and reputation are huge and to try and work against that can be impossible.
- Which of your strengths fit best with the available opportunities? Often we have several parts of our skill set or product line that could be emphasized. It’s best to decide what to focus on, based on the opportunities in that niche.
Thinking of branding really goes back to the nuts & bolts of starting a business. Anyone doing research on starting their own business, writing a business plan or finding investors should have carefully examined the marketplace for opportunity. However, many business owners then set aside all that research when they work to build their own branded identities. Instead, use it to help you build a succesful brand.