Marketing in a Crisis: Brand Positioning is Crucial for Success

Who do you think you are?

For companies, this question is key—now, more than ever.

As you navigate business as unusual, one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your organization is ready for whatever comes next is to take a hard look at your brand positioning. Or, in other words, make sure you know how your brand is different from its competitors—and how it sits in your customers’ minds.

Find your emotional resonance

Brand positioning is what your audience thinks of when they think of you. It’s who you are in relationship to your competitors. But it’s also how your brand feels—a more ephemeral, but no less important, feature of your brand identity: its emotional resonance among the people who make up your audience.

And sure, you can sometimes differentiate your organization through rational characteristics, such as pricing, market share, or product features. But the strongest brand positioning builds personal connections with customers and taps into their emotions through creative storytelling and well-crafted narratives.

This is as true for B2B as it is for B2C. The people who are buying from B2B companies are just as human as B2C consumers, and in fact their actions may have greater emotional urgency, given that the decisions they are making could have major impact on their success at work—and major financial impact for their organization.

Define your unique position

What we’re seeing is that defining or strengthening your brand position in a time of crisis has major short- and long-term benefits. In the short term, effective brand positioning strengthens your relationship with your target audience—and gets their attention. Authenticity matters.

Going forward, people will remember how a strong brand delivered on its promise. The pandemic isn’t going to last forever, and your job right now is to serve your audience—and preserve your brand equity to optimize your position when things resolve.

There are many common rubrics for thinking about your brand position, which in turn leads you to your positioning statement. Here’s one we find useful:

WHERE do you operate? Define your industry, category, sector, etc.

WHO do you serve? Define the audience(s) your brand is targeting.

WHAT do you do that’s special? Define what you offer that is distinct from your competitors. Be sure to include both rational and emotional choices.

HOW do you stand out? Define the evidence that you are delivering those offerings.

Get the message out

Even if you believe you already have a good sense of your brand position, now is the time to take a second look. Your position may need refinement to conform with your company’s evolving mission and vision. Or you may see that your competitors have pivoted on how they tell their brand story, requiring you to reevaluate your own messaging. Either way, it’s time to look at your existing materials and see what needs to be updated.

And by the way: If you’re not currently communicating with your target audience(s), it’s time to do it. Reminding them of your unique positioning—and how you are equipped to solve their problems—is more important than ever.

Once you’ve solidified your positioning, make sure that your company’s actions follow this brand identity—whether it be through the quality and reliability of your product, how you care for your customers, or your status as a thought leader who can help others at a supremely challenging time. Your company is unique, and the compelling story you tell should be just as unique. Demonstrating your loyalty to your brand promise—and your ability to deliver what they need—will go a long way toward solidifying the loyalty of your audience. And it’s always a good time for that.