Research can be key to identifying a strong positioning for brands. But it’s easy to do badly. At best, this results in unclear developmental direction; at worst, a weak territory which lacks relevance for your customer.

More often than not, the problem is inadequate materials.

The convention is to present participants with 2-3 positioning statements or manifestos, usually alongside a set of mood imagery. The problem is that these materials aren’t fit for purpose with people outside of marketing.  People will never experience your brand like this in the real world. In fact, manifestos are often exactly the kind of marketing jargon whose stylised persuasiveness instinctively feels insincere. However well-intentioned, they are too easy to dislike.

As such, a strong positioning idea risks being thrown out through a poorly worded statement, word or thought. The manifesto approach also makes it harder to pinpoint the specific elements of the idea which resonate, or to work out where the tonal sweet spot lies as people trip up on the words or coalesce around only one part.

Start from the customer’s point of view before imposing yours onto them.  Do this through a bottom up approach that deconstructs the thinking behind a statement to understand where its power really lies.  Once you’ve established this, then the manifesto can be introduced as a sense check, without running the risk of being interpreted as a piece of sales comms.

In this way, the strongest nuggets of ideas rise to the surface, without being contaminated by aspects of the positioning which are less relevant.

Is it time to reposition your positioning research?