Let’s talk about branding and positioning your strategy. I truly mean your strategy. This can be your business or yourself. If you’re dating, you must have a brand to position yourself. You must be appealing to someone else. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. This is crucial.
I’m going to get to products very quickly and very soon, but first I want to talk a little bit about the positioning, and the scope and breadth of a brand or a strategy. If you have it too narrow a scope, you may have difficulty broadening your appeal. We’re always hearing about find your niche. Find your niche. If you define it so narrow you will not be able to branch out very easily. You’ll have to create a new brand or a different brand, it becomes very, very difficult. However, if you can position it in such a way that it implies something more even though you’re selling. Can it easily adapt to something more, that can be very different? It depends on how you position it, how you sell it. What you do with that brand as you’re marketing it, as you’re selling it.
Even Big Brands make Branding Mistakes or Over Reach
Look at some of the big brands that really stand out. As soon as you mention them you immediately know what they are and what they stand for. Colgate, Heinz, Harley Davidson, Xerox. All of them have very strong brands, and you know what it means as soon as you hear the name. Wasn’t always that way.
Yes, Colgate always was toothpaste, but they decided they had something else and they actually introduced lasagna. Can you imagine Colgate lasagna? Just the thought of it doesn’t seem realistic.
Harley Davidson came out with a cologne. Maybe that might work for some limited group of people who like the smell of Harleys, but for most people cologne and Harley Davidson just don’t match very well.
Heinz came out with another sauce. They were so good with the Heinz-57, the Heinz Ketchup, they came out with a green sauce. The green sauce for Heinz was at first attractive to a bunch of little kids. The kids thought it cool or fun, but they of course aren’t going to be the ones that are going to stay interested in something like that for a long period of time. It wouldn’t matter what the flavor and other things were. It just was not consistent with their brand image. It’s not appealing.
Branding even relates to your own image
You may have a very good product, but if the image of your company or your own image is very different… Relating to yourself, think in terms of social media. I’ve helped and guided several people and companies on social media habits, etc. I’ve tried to help others, but they just know better for themselves. What happens? Something like 30% of people are rejected in job interviews because of their social media content. They have branded themselves with social media. I have some people who I know who would like to expand and up-level their careers, but they’re so infatuated with the responses they get from their friends, they think: “Wow, that’s neat, that’s cool,” or whatever they say today. It fits into a narrative that may not mesh with places they’re trying to get into. While you’re branding your product or yourself you have to maintain that capability. You have to be able to have it so that you can transfer and move yourself, make progress.
Success necessitates Product Positioning Regardless of the Product
Success is usually includes moving from one place to the next with a different group of people. You can’t eliminate or become a distraction. On the other hand, you could have a bad product and there are ways to actually increase and develop good sales strategy even with a bad product. How do you do this? You match it.
I did this with Chrysler. If you remember the Chrysler Advantage campaign, they had horrible cars at the same. As a matter of fact, when I brought this campaign idea to them, they said: “We don’t have any advantages. We don’t have anything.” At that time they were in the depths of depravity in a sense. Their cars were older designs and comparatively of poor quality. Their stock had gone down to 9 1/2. At that time I introduced the idea to them of looking and concentrating on the advantages that each particular car had to match to a specific group. The demographic group and the tastes of that group that were already buying it. By looking at customer preferences and then publicizing them within that demographic group, it actually exploded their sales. By the way, their stock had gone up to over 70 in a very short order.
Literally, their executives were almost without any optimism. I was in the Chief Economist’s office and the secretary tells me that she and everybody else were all selling their stock, moving and buying General Motors’ stock. This was in the Chrysler Chief Economist’s office. I told her and I explained to her that they were about to resurge: I explained, no, quite frankly, throw everything back into Chrysler. Keep it in Chrysler. When I left, she was ready to do that but she happened to mention it to the Chief Economist. He talked her out of it, and for the next whatever it was, seven, eight years, just about every time I went off into the office she says: “I can’t forget that. I keep on remembering it.”
It’s not just Branding, but Product Positioning
Yes, you can position a product properly even if the product isn’t what you would normally consider good, but it does have a market. You have to find that market. On the other hand, if you position your company, your product, or your person properly, you can expand and develop a very strong image.
Pick your Image and Brand Carefully
How, again, does it relate to you? Pick something that is fitting your niche, but that also can be expanded over time. The idea of this podcast, the title, listen to it: Life Unsettled. Yes, it fits a very, very good, strong image and it really answers a question, but think of the things where it can lead. Just look at some of the topics we’ve discussed. Also, when I started my consulting company, Integrated Automotive Resources, the competition for integrated automotive resources, and as a startup this was just me, were Chase Manhattan Bank, Merrill Lynch, McGraw Hill, and Thompson Publishing. The company ended up becoming the dominant company. But why? Because I had to position it so that I could defend that position and that they couldn’t easily attack it. That’s what you want to do and very crucial, plus integrate it. It was the start of the tech era, it was actually in the mid-80s. So it really hadn’t taken off yet but I saw the advent of the technological change that was about to occur. So, it had that image so that as it was developing. It was ringing in people’s ears that it fit the new generation and it could be much more because it was resources and it was integrated.
Combine Niche with Being Expandable in Branding
You want to always pick things, and define things so you don’t limit itself, but it has a meaning and it can fit and be consistent with the image. When I did some of the original positioning for the Lexus division of Toyota, I didn’t come up with the words but I came up with the positioning. The idea was that Lexus had to appear and let other people determine that it was like a Mercedes, or similar to, or striving in that direction, but never saying the word “Mercedes,” because it didn’t have the credibility. It was a brand-new car company. What did it do? “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” Even today they’ve dropped the word “relentless,” but: “The pursuit of perfection” is still being used 30 years later. At the same time they had an image and a design that made people say: “Gee, doesn’t that even look a little bit like Mercedes?” so they fit all the goals.
Do this with your personal image, do this to grow. Wherever you are today, you may be something else five to seven years from now. Everybody can change, everybody can grow, and everybody can succeed far beyond what they currently believe is capable. Thank you very much. Send me some notes to Thomas@LifeUnsettled.com or in the comment section in the podcast. Either way, looking forward to hearing from you. Take care.