Brands are either better, different, or cheaper. Or not around for very long.
You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand. The key to being unique is not just unique for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for. Or else, you will play in the who cares zone. A great claim must be ownable to your brand and motivating to the consumer.
Too often, Brand Leaders start with the claim and then try to make the most of it in everything they do. The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit, and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is ownable for you or motivating to the consumer.
Start with the consumer first
Like everything in marketing, you should always start with the consumer first. Define your target, create motivating insights that help you connect, map out the consumers’ enemy and create a meaningful customer value proposition.
Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:
- Get all of the consumer insights and need states out.
- Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers.
- Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask.
- Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque. (a potential claim) When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament (rational benefits). When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is more confidence in your golf swing and optimism that you’ll break 80 all the time now (emotional benefit).
The Brand Positioning Statement
Before you get to your claims, you want to start to map out a best in class brand positioning statement, which has four key elements:
- Target Market (a)
- Definition of the market you play in (b)
- Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
- The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)
The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.
The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (a) Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d). This is what it looks like when you put them into this format:
The claims you are going to create should fit in the Reasons to Believe and help to support your benefit. As I said above, don’t start with a claim and then try to create a benefit around the claim. Sometimes in big companies, the claims team sits in the R&D group, randomly developing claims. You as the Brand Leader need to provide the positioning work as a guideline for them to work within.
Brainstorming and sorting the claims
As you look for that separation for your brand, you have to ensure it’s ownable and motivating to consumers. Otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself. What you want to do is hold a brainstorming session with a cross-functional team, who might be from marketing, consumer insights, R&D, regulatory, sales strategy or a professional sales team. Add in people who have been on the brand a long time, and those who are new. Using the work above, with the Unique Selling Proposition and the Positioning Statement derived from the Customer Value Proposition, you want to create claims that would fit in the Reasons to Believe area. I would suggest you create potential areas to brainstorm under:
- Detail how your product works differently
- Showcase your point of difference in the production process.
- What do you do differently within the production process
- What added service/details do you provide in the value chain
- Usage of an ingredient that makes you better
- Process or ingredient that makes you safer
- Experts in the field who can speak on the brand’s behalf.
- Past users/clients with proof support of their stories.
- Clinical tests
- In market usage study
- Before and after studies
Once you create a brainstorm list that matches up to your benefits, you then want to do a claims sort through market research. Focus on the tests that help determine what is most motivating to move the consumer and what is most ownable to your brand. (grid below) One caveat is that you may wish to get Legal/Regulatory to go through the claims to make sure you will get approval. The key to a great lawyer is not finding out what will get rejected (anyone can do that) but to move the claim in a direction that will get approval. I want my lawyer to say “now if you said it this way…”
Build your claims around your main consumer benefit, not your benefit around your claims