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By: Kelly Womer, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA

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Sep 12, 2016 | Linhart Blog, Our Business

Research Tips to Better Differentiate and Position Your Brand

Many companies find themselves swimming in a sea of sameness when it comes to describing or positioning their brand in the marketplace. They may say similar or generic things to tout their top-notch service, expertise, quality work or products, and results. Of course, these types of attributes are often expected by most clients, customers and prospects, versus distinguishing.

How can you determine ways to differentiate your company from the competition, amid many me-too products, services and messages? It may be time to take a fresh look inside and outside your company for answers. Here’s a research-based starting point to define or redefine a stronger brand proposition and related messages, as well as what we have found to be successful for companies we’ve worked with on brand positioning:

- Clients, prospects or customers. Conduct one-on-one interviews and ask a representative sample about the intangible and tangible benefits they receive or seek from your company and why these matter to them. Ask what they most seek when hiring a company or buying a product (their decision criteria) and then how they measure success on an ongoing basis, e.g., why they continue working with the company they hired. Ask how “X” company is different than any competitors. For the best results and unfiltered responses, it’s beneficial to use a third-party to conduct these interviews.

- Employees. This can be a similar, customized set of questions, in order to contrast or compare responses from clients, prospects or customers to identify both the strongest points and overlapping points. Push for tangible examples or outcomes, where possible, to avoid the trap of bland responses that may mirror the messages you’re trying to update.

- Competitors. Identify several competitors that are most in the consideration set of customers and most top-of-mind for leaders. In particular, review their online messages, including on owned social channels and earned media. How do they describe themselves to prospective customers that come to their website or social channels? What’s the experience they provide, both in words and images? What makes them the same, better or different that your company, when it comes to key attributes?

This process delivers high-quality, qualitative data, which can be parsed and analyzed to determine what resonates, what’s distinguishing, and what can be substantiated for a brand positioning statement and messages. It may be a niche practice or product, or the specific ways a company delivers service or value. It may be a customer opportunity or problem that a company effectively addresses.

At Linhart PR, using the data, we then help organizations define what rational or emotional benefits they provide, to whom and why (reasons to believe). These are translated into a brand positioning statement, core messages and a visual brand, all of which can reinforce or shape the business strategy, while distinguishing your company in more meaningful ways.

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