Are You Comfortable In That Position?
It’s easy to have a position. We all have one – on just about everything. It’s also commonly known as an opinion, often one that translates into some kind of action. And just like all people have positions, so do all brands.
The decisions you make about your brand dictate this position to everyone it touches.
Our favorite local coffeehouse/restaurant gets all of its ingredients from local vendors. Their position is that in order to truly be a community-focused business, they should support other local businesses.
Apple outsources the assembly of its products to China, because Apple aims to provide the best product at most affordable price. This can’t be done in America. (Check out this New York Times article for more on that.)
Huit Denim (a company I recently learned about here) takes the position that quality is more important than quantity. The company, founded in a town with a tradition of jean making, produces fewer pairs of jeans each day in favor of something more distinctive than mass production. Each pair comes with a “History Tag,” allowing consumers to record memories made while wearing the jeans.
In all of these cases, the positions taken support the brand well: local supporting local, outsourcing in order to offer a better, cheaper product, and building on a rich history by offering consumers the ability to document theirs.
Unfortunately, sometimes the position a company takes doesn’t do such a good job or reinforcing what that brand’s all about.
Take, for example, the US Olympic uniforms. Try to ignore the fact that they’re hideous. Because regardless of how they look, they aren’t made in America. They’re made in China. It’s the ultimate contradiction. Ralph Lauren was selected as an iconic American clothing company to produce clothes for Americans for one of the most important events showcasing American talent. And they outsourced production to China.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Every decision you make communicates something about your brand to the consumer. Sometimes that means compromising quantity in favor of quality, or spending a little more to support local business. And if it fits – if it make sense with your brand and helps you meet consumer expectations – it fits.
But when it doesn’t fit, that’s damaging.
Changing foundational values can be a blow to trust, so if you have to compromise your position, be prepared to offer an explanation to your customers and clients. When it comes down to it, you have to trust your brand enough to survive on what you built it to be.