Good brand positioning should be easy to talk about, especially since word of mouth remains the most effective marketing principle.
Many of these brand positionings exist and don’t need to be overly “created” — just ask a couple of straightforward questions and tune into what people knowledgeable about the brand say. Yet many marketers ignore these conversational jewels, instead creating starched, politically correct and bland positioning statements that people rarely use in conversations.
Here are a couple of good examples.
Before a recent talk at Fisher College I asked an instructor two simple questions: “Why do people come here? What’s the appeal?”
He didn’t even have to pause before answering: “It’s like a good community college but the students get much more attention and hand holding here.” How interesting.
I asked similar questions at University of Massachusetts and got great though “off the record” answers that I use in explaining the university when the topic of colleges comes up with friends. (Talk about colleges dominates the conversations of parents of teenagers at social gatherings.)
University of Massachusetts Lowell is like a MIT-light, a great science and technology education with very successful alumni but at a state school’s lower tuition. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is like a small, private New England liberal arts college. Good programs, lovely campus by the sea.
What I especially liked was that the explanations were grounded in meaning making: they explained the brand in context of the category and then said what’s different and relevant. Meaning sticks, where buzz and traditional marketing materials usually do not.
Over at the School of Thought blog Andrea Jarrell explains that the best school marketing publications “intrigue, inform, and entertain.” Amen. And the best positioning statements do the same — and are “talkable.”