­One of the most insightful and frustrating things I’ve ever heard in my professional career came from my most recent brand strategy teacher. In trying to explain how we were to do things for the class, the teacher told us

“The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is a symptom of the problem”

It felt like backward logic at the time, but it’s not. You see, especially when applied to marketing and branding, the problem you think you face is not the true problem. Sometimes the true problem is a lot different than the one you see on the surface.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that people will come to me for help with their design work or to revitalize their brand because sales are slow or they’ve hit a financial plateau that they frequently have at least one of three main issues

They don’t know their audience or where they spend time

Their offer is weak or isn’t tailored to the audience they want

They have a messaging problem and can’t communicate about themselves very clearly to anyone.

All of these things though are just symptoms of a bigger issue which is a problem with positioning. Positioning just refers to how customers view a company compared to the business’s competition. This is where terms like “high-end” or “a leader in quality” start coming in.

Positioning is really important for a business because it determines what types of customers they attract and why those people should choose them instead of one of their competitors. These things combined help verify the company’s pricing structure.

A business can position itself using one or multiple strategies including price, product difference, service quality, and more.

This is what helps businesses make money and that’s where a lot of the branding comes in.

Brand strategy – all of it from choosing the audience to how the product is spoken about, what images it uses, and what the company values and policies should be – are the actual puzzle pieces that help a company position itself. So, think of it like this… Positioning is an action and Branding is the support for that action kind of like football.  What you do is play football, but the field, ball, players, nets, flags, and uniforms are the support for playing football. You need these things to play a game and it also helps someone to realize there’s a football game going on.

Once they’re positioned well, they can start to hit their goals a lot more easily. The financial plateaus go away, the paralysis for investing in help or making a decision goes away, and even the “bad” customers become less. Everything feels a little easier when a company is positioned and branded well.

If you’re not there yet, that’s okay. You can start by learning about your audience and what they need and also review your message and advertising copy to see if there’s room for improvement. Lastly, you can also reach out to me or another brand specialist and invest in the help you need.

Remember if the sales aren’t there yet or the customers aren’t “ideal” or “perfect fit” you desire the problem you think you have, like bad marketing or needing a new logo, might not be what solution works for you. What you might need is a good look at your brand position and your communication.