When branding, ignorance is bliss
It’s not always easy to develop a brand position for your own company.
And for a very good reason.
You need to discover new insights about the purpose your company serves in the life of your target ... uncover their core needs, their rational reasons for dealing with you, as well as their emotional ones.
And why choose you, anyway, and not your competitor?
Better questions lead to better answers: true nuggets of raw insight that expose genuine human truths, surprising perceptions, and unique opportunities to fill a gap.
But since you’re already so familiar with your product and your market, you already know everything.
You already know the answers. And that’s why you don't always have the best questions.
From the outside looking in
The most potent questions percolate from a position of total ignorance.
Because they demand an explanation for everything. Even things you’ve always taken for granted as understood and accepted, but then are forced to explain and justify and prove.
Once I get the nod from a new client, entrusting me to help them reveal their brand position, I begin immediately—by not speaking to them any further until its time for internal interviews.
I frankly want to begin by knowing as little as possible ... to experience who they are and what they offer purely from the potential customer’s point of view.
So best to gather all my perceptions from their website, brochures, any marketing materials they use ... and to do so within the context of the market itself, with all their competitors’ websites and marketing and claims and promises coming at my head, as well.
A swell of questions
"What’s so significant about the year you were established? Does the customer care?"
"Both you and a competitor claim to be ‘leader’, how can that be? And what does it really even mean?”
"What, exactly, makes your 'superior service' more superior than anybody else's service?"
The list and complexity of questions grows.
These questions form the foundation to kick off interviews. And the answers provided always, always, beget new and deeper questions providing new and deeper understanding.
You can try it yourself. But you’ll you have to begin by feigning amnesia.
Start by forgetting everything you think you know about yourself, don your potential customer's glasses (which likely won’t be so rosy colored) and confront yourself with all the pesky questions about every little thing that will force you to justify the value of your brand from their frame of reference.