On the road of positioning-strategy development, there are many hazards that can derail a team’s effort to identify a relevant, differentiating, and aspirational brand position. One of the most common positioning strategy mistakes we see marketers make is focusing the brand’s positioning on the closest critical event: launch. The enormity of the workload surrounding a product launch seems to draw everything toward it like some kind of marketing black hole. Without constant attention, the development of the brand’s positioning strategy can become centered on the launch event and the customer needs that exist in the short-term instead of the long-term, aspirational perception you ultimately want the brand to have. There is no doubt that getting the launch right is critical to a brand’s initial momentum, but for long-term success, ensure that your positioning focus reaches well beyond the launch. We all understand that your desired brand positioning should be aspirational and take the brand perception to the highest emotional level possible. The question most brand teams have is how do we do that and still make the positioning relevant at launch. It’s a great question and the answer is in developing perceptual milestones, in essence stepping stones, which move your customer’s perception of the brand from where it is today, step-by-step-by-step to the perceptual destination you wish to achieve. By identifying each of the perceptual steps you need to create, you can draw a line from the perceptual changes you must create at launch to the brand positioning you desire.

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