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Brad VanAuken Brand Positioning Brand Promise

Creating a Winning Brand Promise

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The goal of any brand positioning exercise is to develop a brand promise that is unique, compelling and believable. Any successful brand positioning project must evaluate all potential brand promises against these three criteria – unique, compelling and believable. The winning promise must deliver against all three criteria or it won’t work. The only way to assess this is to measure each of these for each brand promise option with each key target audience.

As an example, we explored the following potential brand promises for Rochester, New York. This is how one target audience, current residents, evaluated them:

Potential Brand Promise

Explanation

Unique

Compelling

Believable

Gateway to the Finger Lakes

Closest city to the Finger Lake wine region

High

High

Very high

Small town feel, big city culture

Medium sized city with friendly people, unusually large concentration of cultural institutions and events for a city its size, largest number of cultural workers per capita

Medium

High

Very High

Where everything is only 20 minutes away

Generally true and often repeated, due to smaller size of metropolitan area, extensive highway system and lack of traffic

Medium

High

Extremely High

Imaging capital of the US

Major base for Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, CooperVision and dozens of other imaging companies, University of Rochester & RIT have unique imaging/optics programs

High

Medium

High

Renewable energy capital of the US

Rapidly emerging concentration of alternative energy companies, including GM’s Fuel Cell Activities Research Center

Medium

Medium

Low

The place more scientists and engineers call home

Very high concentration of engineers and scientists per capita, highest number of patents per capita

Medium

Medium

Medium High

East coast progressive, Midwest friendly

History of progressiveness, home of Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and other social and religious reformers, closer in proximity and friendliness to Cleveland and the Midwest than New York City and the East Coast

Medium

Medium High

Medium High

Higher education Mecca

18 Rochester area colleges and universities plus 4 seminaries, more than 62,000 students

Low

Medium High

Medium High

Music City

Home of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester International Jazz Festival and two music schools including the world famous Eastman School of Music, numerous musical events every night of the week year-round

Low

Medium High

Medium

New York’s North Coast

On the southern shore of Lake Ontario

Medium

Medium

Medium

When you are ready to settle down

Great schools, attractive neighborhoods, affordable housing, an abundance of family activities

Low

Medium

High

Just perfect for families

Same as above

Low

High

High

So how should one interpret these results? First, only promises that are both unique and compelling should even be considered as finalists. While it would be nice to be high in believability too, sometimes a promise’s believability can be increased with the right proof points. Given this analysis, only “Gateway to the Finger Lakes” makes the cut. However, given the relatively high combined scores for all three criteria, the following should also be considered: “Small town feel, big city culture” and “Where everything is only 20 minutes away.”

While someone might be tempted to choose “Just perfect for families” because it is highly compelling and believable to current residents, it would miss the point that those qualities are not perceived to be unique to other options. Similarly, while “Imaging capital of the US” has both high uniqueness and believability, it should not be chosen because it is only somewhat compelling.

Among residents, these results paint the picture of a very livable medium sized city with a highly educated population, rich cultural offerings and a high quality of life. While not unique or even exciting, this is a compelling mix of attributes to many people.

This analysis should also be conducted for other key audiences such as businesses and tourists/visitors and their arbiters.  The ideal promise would be unique and compelling to the most important audience(s), while not having negative connotations among the other audiences.

This analysis can be applied to any type of brand and should be conducted using statistically projectable quantitative research.

Sponsored By: Brand Aid

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1 Comment

Take Flight on May 23rd, 2008 said

Can you give an example of how a brand positioning or marketing mantra drives down to a brand promise – we often confuse them as one in the same.

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