If a Brand is the sum total of everything a company does and how the world perceives it, what can companies do to shape the Brand? They can establish a Brand Position.
The Brand Position is a set of documents that guides no only how you talk about your Brand, but how it’s visually represented as well.
It’s also about the entire customer experience whether that’s in-app, on a website, or in-store. In other words, it guides everything.
In episode 3, I went over several types of Brand and ended with Consumer-Based Brands. And today, in episode 4, I’m going to talk about components of Consumer-Base Brand Positioning.
It’s what we did at Netflix as content aggregators and it can work for just about any company. Whether you’re B2B, B2C, targeting one audience or targeting two as a marketplace. That’s not to say every company should take this approach.
For example, Netflix’s Brand today is largely based on the content they create. And rightfully so.
Basically, before you start anything, you need to figure out the kind of Brand you want to pursue.
But the components for a Consumer-Based Brand are held in what’s called a Brand Position.
So what’s in a Brand Position? The Brand Position at the very least should include a Brand Promise, Brand Attributes, and Brand Story.
Ok, so let’s dig into each one of those a little deeper starting with Brand Promise. The Brand Promise is intended to signal consumers as well as employees what role you’re playing in consumers’ lives.
The idea is that it drives everything you do. So, after a period of consistent application consumers view your company with that lens. That’s not to say that they’ll be able to parrot back the Brand Position though.
The idea is to instill the notion of the Brand Promise in consumers’ minds.
Take, for example, the Brand Promise of Netflix back when we were DVD-only and in the content aggregation phase of the company.
Our Brand Promise was “Movie enjoyment made easy.” Now you’ll notice it says movie enjoyment made easy not movie renting made easy. And that was purposeful. We wanted to define what role we were playing in consumers’ lives, not root the Brand in a transaction.
At the time, if you wanted to enjoy a movie, you had basically two options. Pile in the car and go to the movie theater and pay a lot of money for tickets and concessions or, pile in the car and go to the video store, hope they had the video you wanted, get home, hopefully watch it, and whether you did or not, get back in tie so you could avoid late fees.
By focusing on movie enjoyment, we were able to play a role in peoples’ lives and solve that problem for them.
Next up, Brand Attributes. Brand Attributes are how you want consumers to feel about your company. It sets tone and voice. They are not, however, Brand Values.
Let’s take a look at Netflix’s Brand Attributes when they were a content aggregator:
Straightforward (note: I flubbed this in the video)
Now, those words alone are open to interpretation. So we added some more clarifying text with those words.
Smart — not smart aleck — we talk to people, not down to them.
Human — we’re on-on-one, we’re personal, not corporate.
Straightforward — we’re simply and easy, not terse or clinical
Enthusiastic — but not salesy
Challenger — not a maverick but a little irreverent
Trustworthy — we are substantial, reliable, and stable
So everything that was created by us, or on our behalf, had to hit at least one of those attributes. Now, it’s unrealistic that you’ll hit all of the attributes, all of the time, but you should hit at least one.
One example would be Human. We used to say if you had a problem to call “customer service.” We changed that to be “call us.”
So, Brand Attributes are interesting because they have to align with the product or service, they have to support the Brand Promise, and they also have to address potential issues in the marketplace.
For example, trustworthy was part of our Brand Attributes set because we were a newcomer to the scene. No one had ever heard of Netflix.
Part of the reason this important is because you want to make sure your attributes align with everything else you’re doing.
For example, if you have a nationwide chain of funeral homes, enthusiastic probably isn’t going to be the best attribute for you.
Ok, now we’re on to Brand Story. This is a way to tell why the company was founded in a short, compelling narrative.
At Netflix, our Brand Story was that in the late 90s, co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings forgot that there was a copy of Apollo 13 wedged under his car seat. When he discovered it and went to return it, he was hit with an exorbitant late fee. One that cost more than the movie itself. And he thought, “There’s got to be a better way than this.”
Now, that Brand Story doesn’t cover all the reasons why Netflix was founded. But it does pin itself to one of the biggest pain points our customers felt, late fees.
Now, because that story was short and compelling, the press used it all the time. But more importantly, it telegraphed to consumers that we were different than every other way they were renting DVDs because there were no late fees.
So a Brand Position at the bare minimum has a Brand Promise, Brand Attributes, and Brand Story.
And you might ask, “What about Mission & Vision?” A Vision Statement describes what the world looks like if the company is successful at what it’s trying to do. A Mission Statement describes the strategies they’re taking to get to that vision.
By including a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement in the Brand Position, you run the risk of intermingling business goals with what role the consumer needs you to play. This can lead to a confused or mixed message to consumers which ultimately serves to muddy the Brand.
Ok, so in episode 5 of Barry on Brand & Business, I’m going to talk about how the Brand Promise and Brand Attributes to things like marketing messaging and product.
Be sure to check out Episodes 1–4 here. And let me know what you think.