Table of Contents
Any brand positioning should incorporate certain aspects of branding. After graduating, I intend to build and strengthen my brand through various strategies. I understand that I will not be the only one trying to win the mindscape of customers or clients. I must find a way of edging them through understanding and applying the knowledge of frame of reference, points of parity, points of difference, brand identity, brand culture, brand value, brand image, and co-branding.
A brand is a unique symbol, sign, design, words or several of them that creates a belief that shows an item distinctly from others. Point of difference refers to the elements in a service or product that creates a difference between an individual from his/her competitors. As I begin my brand positioning, I will have to identify the points of difference that is deliverability, desirability, and differentiability. To efficiently deliver a product or a service, one of the two questions asked is whether it is deliverable- can it reach the customer/clients? One of the deliverability criteria is viability. The second test is the possibility of making a profit. Lastly, a deliverable product should be difficult to attack, self-protective, and pro-active. A brand’s point of difference could be desirable if the audience views it as believable and relevant. Brand differentiability has several types including focus, price, and product differentiation.
A point of parity is a feature of a brand that is shared among competitors. They are two types namely category and competitive. Category refers to a brand being able to offer the required category elements. Competition point of parity is created to cancel a rival’s point of difference. It is critical to find a balance between the POPs and PODs so that a brand navigates through break-even. Figure 1 below shows a summary of the positioning diagram that I intend follow while discussing how I will develop my brand. Brand ‘Me’
A brand is a unique symbol, sign, design, words or several of them that creates a belief that shows an item distinctly from others. As time goes, it gets integrity and consumer approval. A brand is not a name for a company or a logo. It would then have a legal name called trademark, and when a firm uses it in its products, it becomes a brand name. There are several types of brand, which include but not limited to personal, product, service, corporates, investor, Non-profit, public brands. This essay shall concentrate on personal brand. Personal branding refers to the way in which an individual presents him/herself to potential consumers. In a business career, clients would wish to notice unique attributes about an individual. That is what makes the individual outstanding among peer competitors. Therefore, the way someone presents him/herself displays the desired points of difference.
Further, it is necessary to compensate for some personal weaknesses using the points of parity. Before the digital era, people used business cards with a name, a few words that describe the core values, and an image. Lately, social media, blogging, and video among others play a significant role in telling the would-be employers or clients about oneself (Harris & Rae 2011). The perception that one creates of him/herself in the minds of the people continues to spread either by word of mouth (buzz) from one client to another or online trending. The process does not always convey the elements intended; instead, the information gets distorted. That means that there must be a feedback process that gives clarity. Therefore, as I plan to build my brand, I endeavour to utilise the knowledge that the points of parity and difference are necessary for adjustments to still be relevant in the consumer’s mind.
Point of Difference
It refers to the elements in a service or product that creates a difference between an individual from his/her competitors. Succeeding in enhancing them leads to a consumer loyalty to a brand. As I begin my brand positioning, I will have to identify the points of difference that is deliverability, desirability, and differentiability. However, as a new entrant, I will establish a frame of reference to reveal to consumers and possible employers all they would gain when they use my brand. It is essential to observe and study my peers as we graduate, and use them as my frame of reference. For instance, we all currently learn marketing and the clients, either employers or customers will be eying a feature that edges an individual out of the rest.
To efficiently deliver a product or a service, one of the two questions asked is whether it is deliverable- can it reach the customer/clients? One of the deliverability criteria is viability (Keller, Sternthal, & Tybout 2002). It is prudent to choose a point of difference that cannot be overly constrained by factors beyond my control such as time. Much as every event depends on time, sometimes delivering on time may be compromised. For instance, claiming to avail a product based on the premise, and the only mode of delivery is by the road where traffic jam is a norm may not work well in developing a personal brand. In fact, the clients’ belief instead becomes negative. I would have to study my location and find out how the other graduates work out their deliverability. A time saver means could be saving all documents that clients may often need in free cloud accounts such Google, Microsoft, among others. In that case, I will edge out my competitors.
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The second criterion is the possibility of making a profit. Introducing features that would lead to eventual loss-making may not deliver the desired product or service for a longer time. Such unprofitability could occur to a personal brand where an individual spends his/her precious time answering clients’ questions through multichannel platforms such as SMS, emails, Facebook chats, Twitter, among others (Harris & Rae 2011). My strategy is to avail all the information that could help clients know more about me on these platforms to minimize redundant questions. Therefore, I will not have to employ somebody to manage the platforms on my behalf.
Lastly, a deliverable product should be difficult to attack, self-protective, and pro-active. Rather than introducing services that would not last the test of time such as reduced prices or free delivery, a brand may opt to use its advertisement feature and emphasize the category’s points of parity. Though it works best with established brands that have dedicated advertisement budgets (which in this case are the top-tier graduates), my brand positioning could take advantage of the digital advertising that is less costly. Consider if I have over one thousand Facebook friends, over 10,000 followers on Twitter, linked to a considerable number of professionals on LinkedIn and many other networks. What I will need is a proper strategy. I believe that I can sustain it on such platforms for a long time.
A brand’s point of difference could be desirable if the audience views it as believable and relevant. One case when brands overlooked relevance in their point of difference was during the 1990s. Several brands introduced “clear” in their category of products for differentiating themselves from their rivals. The intended meaning of the point-of-difference did not come out well (Keller, Sternthal, & Tybout 2002). For example, I need not change my dressing code to fit in a specific audience thus, hoping to win their appeal because; first, it gives a wrong impression of my brand already built, and second, it may confuse the consumers. Several clients believe that fresh graduates have little experience to offer. To counter that, I intend to read wide. There is a likelihood that many challenges that the proficient brands overcome are documented. For sure, even a top-tier may not have that experience yet.
To make the consumers believe that a brand’s point of difference is desirable, one must identify a unique feature of his/her product that can be proven. For instance, Apple claims to make sleek designs and own robust communications ability. Indeed, consumers can confirm that. Similarly, my competitors may boast of being the best, which the audience can prove some. In personal branding, I would go for balanced emotions as a desirable point of difference. Every human being must possess feelings. However, they become erratic under provoked circumstances. When able to control emotions always, I can handle all sorts of clients. That should be seen in the way someone relates and responds to posts and opinions of him/her. Very few are good at that.
Brand differentiability has several types including focus, price, and product differentiation. Differentiation focus allows a brand to concentrate on where it does best. As such, consumer experience improves because of quick response to feedback avenues. Price differentiation works in two ways; through raising it above the rivals or lowering it below them. They are both beneficial. In product differentiation, a brand must add a unique attribute to a product that makes it distinct from its peers. My rivals may offer both premium and low-end products as a differentiation strategy. Nevertheless, as a personal brand, I would avoid price differentiation but embrace focus differentiation. In that regard, I endeavour to improve my best as I make necessary adjustments so that upon establishment, I may try price and product differentiation.
Point of Parity
Points of differentiation and points of parity are complements worth considering when positioning a brand. A point of parity is a feature of a brand that is shared among competitors. The attributes stand for the basics that qualify a given brand. Failure to bear it in mind would lead to some brand confusing slogans meant for points of differentiation. Further, it is important to recognise the points of parity so that the brand keeps its relevance. They are two types namely category and competitive.
This type refers to a brand being able to offer the required category elements. A brand cannot stick to providing products without features that are in competitor’s products and are crucial. For example, I cannot attract clients if blogging is a necessity, yet I ignore it. They will avoid my products. I should try and offer services related to my competitors. Further, I must keep changing these features owing to technological advancement and customer preferences (Keller 2002).
In personal branding, it would be disadvantageous to only have a landline telephone as the official means of clients reaching out for services or consultation while rivals venture in video calls, mobile phones, email correspondence, among others. Additionally, when competitors use electronic documents and latest software to improve the quality of products they offer, it could be necessary to include the category point of parity to stay relevant. That means that I will keep tabs on how the graduates change how they offer their products so that I too change.
This point of parity (POP) is created to cancel a rival’s point of difference. Quality is a prevalent brand issue where a product does not match its competitors. I must ensure that I do not compromise the quality of my products. The fact is that it is every client’s expectations of any product they receive from a brand. At one point when my rivals fail on that, my quality products will be there to compete for the customers’ appeal. Additionally, a personal brand need not concentrate on regulated emotions as a POD and neglect the POP such as being available for the clients. In such a circumstance, the clients will overlook the sturdy POD and choose to ignore the brand and go for that, which can support their needs. That will be another area of my focus.
Enhancing Personal Branding in the Future
It is necessary to obtain a balance between the POPs and PODs so that a brand navigates through break-even. Figure 2 below shows how to choose them.
Figure 2: Brand Positioning Requirements
In my positioning, I intend to incorporate elements such as brand culture, image, values, identity, and co-branding potential. The following is how it will work out.
It is the message that a person or product gives to consumers regarding shape, logo, name, tone that attracts them. The characteristics above make a brand recognised (Nandan 2005). I would approach the audience with a first identity such as being a graduate. However, that may not define me. Therefore, I would need to perform my duties flawlessly for the results to slowly manifest. I draw this from the established brands like Steve Jobs, Kaspersky, sports personalities, movie actors among others. For instance, a reference to Microsoft cannot be complete without mentioning Bill Gates. I do not need to receive global recognition like the above to have an identity, but once I have my chosen audience, it will come. Many brands merely enjoy local recognition and are faring on well.
Brand image is how the target consumers view a given brand. An image is what the consumers believe about a brand. It portrays a person’s or organisation’s character. As customers interact with a product, they may tend to like or dislike it depending on how the attributes affect them-they develop an emotional attachment to the brand (Labrecque, Markos, & Milne 2011). Strengthening a brand’s image through promotional tools is possible. The choice of the devices may be diverse but should be economically efficient to make it last.
I will need to focus on the benefits of my brand image to my clients by checking what I do or should do better than my rivals. Further, I have to be conscious of how it affects my clients’ feelings and how they should believe me more than my competitors. I expect my brand to act as feedback from the clients. Hence, I should use proper language on social media during casual encounters so that clients who interact with both the professional and social profiles find a correlation (Labrecque, Markos, & Milne 2011). That will build a positive image about me in their minds. Eventually, I will have made a point of difference.
Values refer to the fundamental principles that describe a brand’s actions, choices, and attitude. They are dynamic concerning a brand’s current positioning (Lassar, Mittal, & Sharma 1995). There are many values that a given brand may have. Hence, my rivals may not have them all perfect. I will seize the opportunity. The core values that I regard include customer focus and integrity. The latter reshapes the former including any other that may be associated with me.
It is a way of doing things for a given brand. Honesty, as a value, cultivates a brand’s culture. It is easier to do that for a personal brand unlike in a corporate organisation where values must be built internally before spreading to the customers, which later develops a culture. That is an advantage for me, though I am sure that I will not be the only one with a brand culture. Hence, I must stick to honesty and keep off scandals that would demean the already set culture.
It is a partnership between a minimum of two brands of products. The advertisement costs reduce, and there is a faster brand identity development. Many brands utilise the strategy in marketing their products. For example, a partnership between a personal brand and an organizational brand. Figure 3 below shows the image of a football star, Christiano Ronaldo holding a can of Herbalife. That is an area worth exploring. Before I can get the opportunity to have a brand signing a co-branding agreement I need popularity.
The first step is to begin by volunteering in some instances. Brands will have an opportunity to prove the quality of my products. It does not have to be international recognition. After that, I could choose to co-brand with more than one brands, which will give me an opportunity to do product differentiation. For instance, I may increase blogging rate provided that I will have gained some clients’ attention who can take time follow and read my content.
Figure 3: Example of Co-Branding (Nutri 2015)
Branding being a factor in the consumer’s mind needs extra caution during its positioning. Though mistakes made during the first stages may be rectified and bring back the good feeling about a brand, some may not forget the bad experiences. Perfection is part of the branding process in which a product goes through a cycle that involves customer feedback that continually reshapes it to meet all their needs. I can evolve my brand. Check out Appendix I for samples of product evolution images. It is vital to watch my competitors and find any PODs worth changing to POP.
- Harris, L. & Rae, A., 2011. Building a personal brand through social networking. Journal of Business Strategy, 32(5), pp.14-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/02756661111165435
- Keller, K., 1993. Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing, 57(1), pp.1-22. doi:10.2307/1252054
- Keller, K., Sternthal, B., & Tybout, A., 2002. Three questions you need to ask about your brand. Harvard Business Review, September 2002 issue. Available at < https://hbr.org/2002/09/three-questions-you-need-to-ask-about-your-brand>
- Labrecque, L., Makis, E., & Milne, G. 2011. Online personal branding: process, challenges, and implications. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 25(1), pp. 37-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intmar.2010.09.002
- Lassar, W., Mittal, B., & Sharma, A., (1995). Measuring customer‐based brand equity. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 12(4), pp.11-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363769510095270
- Nandan, S., 2005. An exploration of the brand identity-brand image linkage: A communication perspective. Journal of Brand Management, 12(4), pp.264-278. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540222
- Nutri, C., 2015. Christiano Ronaldo and Herbalife24-dreive your destiny. [Online] (updated 28 Sept. 2015) Available at: <http://www.corenutri.com/2015/09/28/cristiano-ronaldo-and- herbalife24-drive-your-destiny.html> [accessed 28 Nov. 2017].
- Source: https://blog.goposse.com/apps-and-evolution-93ba23dd9881
- Source: https://www.digi-corp.com/blog/product-development-before-and-now/
- Source: http://gvu.gatech.edu/index.php?q=research/projects/poster-product-evolution-and-platform-strategy-study-smartphones
- Source: https://www.slideshare.net/Henrydenson/tooth-brush-history?next_slideshow=1