If I had a penny for each time I started a paragraph or a presentation with the statement, “the world has changed...” I can tell you, I’d be a rich man.

Normally the statement pertained to some kind of internet change, meaning that companies would no longer be able to hide a poor brand experience with ‘branding’. This is the idea of transparency and customers having a voice. And it certainly did change the world, for the better.

Our current world change is certainly less favourable, but in some areas, good will come of it. For example, you, like me, might be in the mood to start a business. Hell yeah!

So if you’re starting a business, let me tell you a little bit about brand positioning.

Brand positioning is ‘step one’ of telling your story

The idea of a brand is incredibly important to a start-up. This is because the essence of a brand lies in your story. And guess what, when you’re pitching to friends, family or VCs, it’s your story that will either turn heads or lose people’s interest.

Brand positioning is about carving out your space in the competitive landscape, which in turn means that you have to have an intimate knowledge of the landscape and who you consider to be your competition. You can learn all about it in my video course. It’s designed especially for start-ups and growing businesses.

Simon Dean Free brand positioning courseLots of great videos in the branding course 👆

Landscape, what?

I do like the phrase ‘positioning’ as it lends a degree of logic to an industry which has a healthy dose of ‘gut feel’. What you’re doing here, before there’s any talk of logos or straplines, is establishing a point of differentiation between you and your competition.

In order to do this, you’ll need positioning axes. Along the x and y axes, will be desirable traits that you think will separate you from the competition. For this to work, you need to know a few things:

#1 what is cool, interesting and desirable about your company?

#2 how is that more cool, interesting and desirable than your competition?

Here’s an example of using positioning axes while developing a business concept

You’re trying to cut fat and gain muscle, so you start weighing yourself and paying a bit of extra attention to food labels, looking at proteins, carbs and fats. You do some maths and decide on what you need to eat to reach your goal. Then you realise: Damn, counting macros and weighing food is a pain. Maybe I could make an app for that! Then you do your research and you find MyFitnessPal, which literally does the maths for you. Damn.

In fact, you find a tonne of apps in this landscape because a lot of people are into losing weight and looking fly.

But then you’re like, “Man, I can’t be arsed to input the ingredients for my meals, or even select them from a menu (as in My Fitness Pal), what if my phone camera and some AI could do it?!”

Success? Nope. This too exists and is called Calorie Mama. But now on the flip side, we do have a landscape of sorts:

Example positioning axes


Rewind. Let’s break it down

We have two landscapes, and two sets of axes. In the first business iteration, the landscape is broad: It concerns reading recipes from Instagram/a book/the internet vs. calculating what you’re going to eat. Then the y-axis is about speed. If you’re Calorie Mama, you’re thinking about addressing the problem of manual data entry, which I can tell you is a pain.

Then along comes Protein Shaker. At this point, you have decided that the landscape is too busy, but there is room for a more niche solution—protein only! We have rejected “recipes from Instagram/a book/the internet” in favour of app-only meal tracking solutions. The y-axis has changed too—but not much. We’ve just changed the language to fit the experience of Protein Shaker more... Yes, it’s fun, but it’s also satisfying, so we called it: Instant gratification.


Brand positioning and business ideation

Hopefully, you can see that these areas are kinda similar. From the business ideation point of view, it’s clear that there is a process to having ideas and comparing them to the competition in pursuit of finding an original idea.

From the branding perspective, you now have some building blocks for your story: In the case of Protein Shaker, you’ll make the case that all people who want to get hench need to care about is protein! Then you’ll talk about just how much gratification you’ll get from shaking that app, just like shaking a shaker after a hefty workout! You won’t take this message to laypeople, it’ll go to muscle enthusiasts and so you have your story!*

And that is the role of brand positioning! To narrow down your starting place for the rest of your brand storytelling and give it foundations.


What’s in this brand positioning course?

You’ll learn about the idea of a landscape and the principles of coming up with axes. You’ll see what happens if your landscape is too big or too small. You’ll learn from examples in the automotive, alternative milk and genetics industry! In less than 30 mins, you’ll be a pro! Here’s some more information on the course.

Don’t fancy the course? Perhaps I could ask for a tiny slice of your branding experiences!? Here is a fun survey that will steer the content in my courses, and indeed on this blog. It’ll take less than 5 minutes and bring me lots of joy.


One more thing

*Disclaimer: I just invented Protein Shaker, right here in this blog. It’s imaginary. By all means, run with this idea and cut me in! However, I’ll tell you now, do your research and you’ll see that all macros matter and that perhaps too much protein is not a good thing! Herein lies one of the next steps of starting a business—testing your idea to see if it is actually desirable and contains a proven benefit!

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