Brand Positioning: Part 2

We’re picking up from our last post Brand Positioning: Part 1 and continuing the conversation on how to position your brand for success. The much renowned philosopher and deep thinker Yogi Berra said:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Profound right? In today’s digital world, especially if you’re building a product or a business in tech, iteration and adaptability are paramount. I’ve created and worked on several tech products and I can tell you the product looked different after year 1, much different after year 2, and much, much different after year 3.

So it begs the question, why plan in the beginning if it’s just going to change? We believe in just enough planning. Yes, plan to iterate and adapt, but do the legwork initially to lay a proper foundation. And creating a Brand Positioning Platform is the perfect amount of planning.

A Brand Positioning Platform helps us validate our idea. It compels us to think critically and strategically about our product before we actually build it. A Brand Positioning Platform contains five sections:

  • The Problem
  • Who You Are
  • Who They Are (that is, your community)
  • What’s Out There (the market)
  • The Solution

In the end, we’ll be able to explain what problem we want to solve, and how we’re going to solve it in a way that’s different, relevant, and valuable to our community. Let’s break down each section.

The Three Pipe Problem

First, we need to define what problem we’re trying to solve. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and when he faced a difficult case he would describe it as a “three pipe problem” because it required three pipes worth of time to solve it.

What’s your three pipe problem? Write this first, as succinctly as possible.

Who You Are (Self-awareness)

Gary Vaynerchuk opens his two-part video series on self-awareness (which I highly recommend you watch) with this question:

“Who the fuck are you?”
The better you know who you are, and who your business is, the more effective you’ll be in positioning your brand for success.

We believe you should focus on your strengths — you should absolutely know your weaknesses as well — but by betting on your strengths you’re positioning your mind and aligning your heart to win.

Evaluate your personal strengths, and those of your team, and combine those with the strengths of your brand.

Next, figure out what you want out of this. Remember your brand vision and mission from before? Those should impact your answer. But honesty is key here. If you want to cash out after 5 years, write that down. If you want this to be a lifestyle business for the next 20 years, write that down. Be honest with yourself, because this will form part of the compass by which you navigate your business moving forward.

Who They Are (Community)

Our mantra in designing products and building businesses is this: “design for the other side of the screen.” For us pixel pushers, it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual human on the other side of our design. We have to remember that design, and business, is made for people.

We have to know, understand, and embrace our community. Ultimately, your community dictates how successful you are. The first step is defining who your community is. Ask questions like:

  • What are their demographics?
  • What do they like?
  • What do they hate?
  • On what platforms do they spend the most time?
  • How quickly do they embrace new products?

Once you have a solid idea of your community’s identity you can break down their demographic attributes.

What’s Out There (Market)

In the military, soldiers often talk about something called a SITREP, which is combat jargon for ‘Situation Report.’ In the field, SITREPs are vital reconnaissance that soldiers depend on. You need a SITREP for your business because if you haven’t done the recon, and don’t know what’s out there, you’re essentially driving blind.

This is where research, observation, and focus are key. Analyze the market, scope out your competitors, observe what they’re doing well and where they suck. Perform a competitive analysis and document your findings in this section. You’re well on your way to completing your Brand Positioning Platform and defining how your brand is different, relevant, and valuable.

After Action Report

To summarize, positioning your brand for success involves just enough planning, decisive focus, and the preparation to adapt. Build the blueprint, and lay the foundation through a Brand Architecture document and a Brand Positioning Platform. By doing just enough planning, you’ll establish the right trajectory for your business and you’ll set yourself up to win.


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