In a survey of over 300 top marketing executives from Fortune 500 companies, the Marketing Leadership Council found that the most serious mistake made by marketing teams when launching new products was inadequate positioning: A failure to clearly define a target customer and a desired perception for their brand in the market versus their competition.

As important in the findings are what we see as causal components to poor positioning, or a laddering effect that ultimately leads to poor brand positioning. The research showed that the next two biggest mistakes were “lack of research” and “shifting messages or inconsistency”, both of which lead to weak or non-existent positioning.

At Brand Engineers, one of the fundamental points that we try and communicate to our clients is the need to employ a disciplined approach to positioning development. Identifying a truly impactful brand positioning cannot happen in the confines of a conference room without thoroughly understanding what drives customers’ product choices. Through proper research you can, and should, be able to identify the strategic and psychological drivers of product selection as it affects your target customer. “How is this affected by our competitors?” and “What influence does competitive positioning have on consumer selection?” are also questions you should be asking yourself.

The last component of the “laddering” effect is “inconsistency”. Inconsistently communicating your brand messages makes a potentially strong, clear positioning nearly impossible. Assuming you have chosen a brand positioning that resonates with your customers and would drive them to consider your brand, inconsistently delivering the correct messages will fail to implant your positioning in their mind.

So whether you’re preparing for a launch or you’ve inherited the results of someone else’s efforts, evaluate how the brand’s positioning was derived and the way it is being communicated. Chances are this may be contributing to the current state you’re in.

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