When a brand owns a word in consumers’ minds, that brand has been effectively positioned against its competition. Think of it this way: Some of the most recognizable brands in the world “own” a word in consumers’ minds. Here are some examples from the automotive industry:
- Cadillac = luxury
- BMW = performance
- Kia = affordability
Think of some of your favorite brands. What word pops into your head first when you think of those brands? It’s very possible that the word you think of is the same word that the majority of consumers think of in relation to that brand, and that means the company behind that brand has done an excellent job of positioning the brand and communicating the brand’s message, image and promise to consumers.
Owning a word in consumers’ minds is the ultimate goal for brand managers, and you can do it with your brand, too.
Consider how crowded the Internet is these days. If you market business online, particularly on the social Web, then you need to find a way to stand out from the clutter. Working towards owning a word in people’s minds, are critical steps to building brand.
How do you get started? First, you need to determine what word you want to own in people’s minds. Ask yourself the following questions to begin to define your brand strategy:
- What is your brand promise?
- Is there is niche that isn’t being filled that your brand can fill?
- How stiff is the competition for the words you might want to “own”?
- How can you differentiate your brand from others with the word that you own?
- What are your ultimate goals and what word do you need to associate with your brand to reach them?
Branding is a long-term strategy, so it’s important that once you define the word you want to own in people’s minds that you commit to it for the long haul. You need to follow the original rules of branding — consistency, persistence and restraint — while listening to consumers and keeping an eye on your competitors to ensure your strategy is working.
It’s possible you might need to rethink your strategy in the future, but the key to success is getting started by positioning your brand relative to your competition so it gets noticed, remembered, and talked about.