‘Fat’ words are broad in meaning, mean different things to different people, and change their meaning as social values change. None of this is helpful in brand positioning. Which makes understanding the true meaning of words one of the essential brand positioning skills.
Delve into the meaning of words
Consider a word like ‘authoritative’ (a good word, the type you might find in a brand positioning statement!). But what does it actually mean, and how would you express authority: like a leader of a street gang, or a corporate CEO? They both have authority but in different ways. It’s important to delve into a word, and agree what it means regarding behavior and experience. Only then does it become a basis for brand positioning consensus, rather than confusion.
And there are lots of words like this; you need to recognize and filter these in your brand positioning work. Is your brand a leader? So what? What kind of leadership behavior does it exhibit? Is it a tyrant or a patriarch? (or a matriarch?!).
‘Cool’ is the classic fat word. Cool means different things to different people; it means different things in different countries. And it means different things at different times.
Develop your brand positioning skills
First, you need to be able to recognize fat words. Get into the habit of questioning words, their meaning and the potential for confusion.
Then, practice the brand positioning skills required to delve deeper and reach consensus:
- Personify the word: if the word was a person, what kind of person would they be?
- Express specific behaviors: what will your brand do, to bring this word to life?
- Visualize the word: what visual images does this word conjure up?
It takes time to explore the meaning of words with your brand team, but it is well worth the effort. As you explore words, you’ll likely create greater focus, using your new found brand positioning skills to define a more distinctive and motivating brand.
It will also save you time and money when it comes to implementation because you’ll have achieved greater clarity and consensus regarding the behavior and experience required to build your desired brand.
- Does everyone involved with my brand understand the positioning statement in the same way I do?
- What does my brand positioning statement actually mean, concerning brand behavior?