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Designer of 500+ brands/experiences.
Entrepreneur. Strategist. Blog at MattDSimpson.com

How to Define Your Purpose & Position Your Brand for Success

how-to-define-purpose-position-brand-success

All brands, whether corporate or personal, become stronger – and more powerful – when their focus is narrowed.

But for most, the challenge is that the closer we are to the brand (especially if it’s a personal brand), the harder it is to determine our direction, define our uniqueness, or narrow our positioning.

In fact, many times as our businesses grow it’s easy to lose track of our purpose and become untethered from our “why” – and that can quickly spell disaster.

So, to build both a strong foundation for your business and your brand, it’s vital that you are:

  1. Connected with why you are doing the work you are doing.
  2. Articulating what sets you apart from your peers.


The first step is to:

1. Define Your Purpose

When it comes to doing anything related to your brand – from building a new website to crafting a new product offering – make sure you are always connected with your “why”.

I like to start this process by asking people to complete the following Purpose Statement:


I am [creating this content] for [my audience] to help them ______ and _______. I hope this content will help them _______, _______, _______.


When you can define this statement, you’re ready to proceed with the work of creating a positioning statement, building a new website, or just about anything else – but not until.

Your purpose statement solidifies the intent for the work you are doing and becomes the lens that all your work (be it content creation or new business opportunities) must align with.

Additionally, understanding this “why” will allow you to tailor your content to a specific audience who will want and need what you have to offer.

The process of crafting your “why” statement should not be taken lightly. Once its completed it will be carved in stone for a very long, long time. Make sure that whatever you come up with will stand the test of time and is something you can live with.

Going Deeper with Your “Why”
Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” is a great resource if you want to go deeper with this concept of “why” and better understand what your “why” really is. I also recommend Simon’s “Discover Your Why” online training course as an exercise that’s sure to provide additional insights for you and those around you. It’s well worth the time.

2. Crafting a Positioning Statement

Step 1: Create a Positioning Statement

Often referred to as an “elevator pitch,” this simple framework establishes your brand’s focus and reinforces the benefits of that focus to your prospective clientele.

Your positioning statement will flow directly out of your “why” and should dovetail together seamlessly with your Purpose Statement.

Almost all positioning statements can be broken down into the following format:


[Person/Organization] is the/a [leading*] [your expertise or focus] on/to the [geographic or vertical market].


*You don’t have to use the word “leading” but try to find a word that establishes credibility, relevance (and dominance) based on your particular focus or niche. It’s appropriate to “toot your own horn”… Don’t shy away from asserting your relevance and expertise here.

Example for a Company:
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.

Example for a Personal Brand:
Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States.

Step 2: Create a Reassurance Statement

Next, you’ll want to create a “Reassurance Statement” that supports the positioning you’ve just outlined – for example:


[We/I] help [my clientele] to [benefit #1] and [benefit #2].

Example for a Company:
Positioning Statement: Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry.

Reassurance Statement: We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.


Example for a Personal Brand:
Positioning Statement: Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States.

Reassurance Statement: Dr. Jones helps children afflicted with the disease of childhood obesity achieve optimum weight and metabolic health.


Variations on Reassurance Statements
There are often expansions or variations on the Reassurance Statement. We’ll use the example of the insurance company below:

Reassurance Statement: We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.

Variations or additions to the positioning statement might include:

  • An identification of the offerings you provide (e.g.: We build online communication programs to help…)
  • Referencing your history (e.g.: For 25 years we have been working with…)

The Complete Positioning Statement

Example for a Company:
Smith & Associates is the leading corporate communications firm to the insurance industry. We help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance.

Example for a Personal Brand:
Lisa Jones, M.D. is the leading medical expert on childhood obesity and prevention strategies in the United States. Dr. Jones helps children afflicted with the disease of childhood obesity achieve optimum weight and metabolic health.

Once you have crafted and are comfortable with your positioning and reassurance statements you should craft a “conversational version” of this statement so it can pass the “elevator test”…


The Elevator Test

Many times positioning statements sound great on paper, but when you try to communicate them verbally they sound stiff and lack conversational appeal.

It’s important that once you create your positioning statement that you craft a version that flows verbally. For example, if you really were meeting someone in an elevator for the first time, how would it sound? Here’s an example of what this might look like:

“Hi, my name is Bill Smith and I own Smith & Associates – we’re the leading corporate communications firm for the insurance industry. Our primary focus is to help insurers and their agents to retain employees and inspire performance…”


Key Elements of a Positioning Statement
  • Positioning Statements are concise and succinct.
  • Your positioning should be compelling.
  • Positioning Statements should be slightly aspirational. Very few of us are the leading expert in our industry or niche, but we aspire to be the best so we should position ourselves in such a way.
  • It should always be very easy for a prospect or visitor to identify that they are NOT a fit for your organization or services once they hear your positioning statement.
  • It should be easy for someone to retain and recall your positioning statement and/or focus after they have met you. If you make your positioning too complex or include too many benefit statements in your reassurance statement you make it hard to retain.
  • Positioning statements should pass the “elevator test.”

Considerations

  • Once identified, your positioning statement should be carved in stone along with your Purpose Statement while the reassurance statement can be adapted or narrowed over time. (some people frame theirs and hang them on the wall so they can always be reminded of their focus and are not tempted to change it on a whim)
  • You should be able to conversationally regurgitate your positioning and reassurance statement at any time.
  • Consider adding a tagline that will distill your positioning and reassurance statement into a concise and accurate depiction of what it is you do better than anyone else.

Places to employ your Positioning Statement / Elevator Pitch:

  • Website (front page in a prominent location – one of the first things people will read)
  • Personal introductions
  • Speeches
  • Marketing Materials
  • Telephone Introductions
  • Email Introductions

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