Branding and positioning are key to reaching customers and driving sales. On March 22nd, we had the pleasure of hosting digital marketing and brand creation expert, Andrew Mewborn, for a workshop exclusively for our TRANSFORM Support Hub community.
This webinar was the culmination of our “Branding & Positioning” Thematic Learning Group, where over the course of a month, entrepreneurs on the platform worked together to deep-dive into the components of brand-building and work through associated guides with their peers and the MovingWorlds team.
Below, find an overview of our step-by-step approach to branding and positioning for social enterprises, along with key takeaways and insights shared during the closing Industry Leader webinar with Andrew!
A Step-by-Step Approach to Brand Building as a Social Enterprise
According to MightyAlly, a brand is “what people collectively think, feel, and say about your social venture.” Branding goes hand-in-hand with positioning, which is the process of positioning your brand in the minds of customers by stating what your brand does, who it does it for, and how it’s different from competitors.
Successful branding and positioning builds on your brand’s purpose, vision, mission, and values. Here is a helpful visual from our Branding & Positioning guide that demonstrates how each of these elements relate to and build on each other:
To break the process down into manageable pieces, our group worked together through the following 5 steps:
- Aligning your brand with your Theory of Change (learn more about how to develop a Theory of Change here)
- Turning your Theory of Change into positioning statements for each customer segment, following the template: “For (target customer) who (statement of need or opportunity), (brand name) works in (industry) to (statement of key benefit & impact). Unlike (competing alternative), (brand name) (statement of primary differentiation).”
- Developing your brand’s visual identity and messaging
- Aligning your team internally on your brand
- Creating a brand toolkit and templates for consistency in how you message it out in the world
In our closing Industry Leader webinar, Andrew shared a simple framework to help entrepreneurs take the positioning work they had done out of the classroom and into the real world to test, refine, and iterate based on what resonates most with target customers.
Tips from a Branding Expert: The Positioning Idea Machine
Andrew is the Co-founder of Taplio and creator of Brand30, an education program that has taught over 4,300+ students the fundamentals of building a personal brand online. He shared, “What I’ve learned over the course of my career is that positioning is more of a journey than a destination. It happens through iteration, and the best way to develop and refine the way you brand and position yourself is to test, and test quickly.”
One of the best ways to do that is through social media. “Social media is the perfect ‘test bed’ for positioning because it’s a low-stakes way to experiment with different approaches to how you portray your brand, see what resonates based on whether or not people are engaging with it, then quickly learn and iterate. That quick, iterative feedback loop is a great tool for learning.”
To help you come up with ideas to put content out there to better position your enterprise online and in the world, Andrew introduced a simple framework called “The Positioning Idea Machine.” It has 3 components:
When it comes to choosing a topic, specificity is key. As Andrew pointed out, “It’s a noisy world out there, and the real secret sauce is to get as specific as possible.” In brainstorming topics, ask yourself:
- What are you writing about?
- What, specifically?
- What, specifically (again)?
For example, let’s say you have a waste management social enterprise. What you want to talk about is “waste management,” but that’s really broad. You could make that more specific by saying, “waste management through composting.” Drilling down even further, you could say “waste management through composting for households in rural areas.”
Why is this important? The more niche your offering, the less noise you’ll be competing against. It may seem counterintuitive – many entrepreneurs in the early stages want to keep their offering as broad as possible to reach as many potential customers as possible. But Andrew advised, “Although it can feel like you might be cutting people out by narrowing down, that’s ok. It’s better to know who you are NOT for and who you are NOT marketing towards than who you are.” It’s a process of blocking out the negative space so that you can really hone in on the unique niche segment that is perfectly suited to your product or service.
Credibility answers the question, “why are you the right person to provide this offering?” According to Andrew, there are three ways to demonstrate credibility:
- I’m the expert (I know the answer)
- I’m curating experts (I went out and found all the experts who know the answer)
- I’m just speaking from my own experience (I don’t know if my answer is the expert answer, but here’s what I think)
Which method of credibility you use depends on the market you’re competing in. If you’re in a broad market, Andrew suggests “renting credibility” by going the curating experts route. In more niche markets, however, you can use your own credibility – for example, “I’ve helped over 3,000 people solve this specific problem.”
The approach is where you can get into testing what it is people want to hear from you related to that topic. When you’re talking about yourself out in the market, you’re ultimately educating others about your topic. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- How to guides explaining how to do something related to your topic
- Lessons learned through trial and error related to your topic
- Mistakes you see others commonly make related to your topic
- Quotes from experts or thought leaders related to your topic
- Ways people can engage with or benefit from your topic
- Tools that are helpful related to your topic
- Trends in the space of your topic
- Statistics related to your topic and scope of it, which can be aggregated from other sources, or your own
- Reasons that your topic matters
- Examples of successful interventions related to your topic
- Moments that capture a bigger takeaway related to your topic and impact
You don’t have to pick just one – Andrew suggests mixing and matching different approaches to see what resonates best with your audience.
We’re so grateful to the inspiring social entrepreneurs who participated in this Branding & Positioning thematic learning group, and to Andrew for sharing his time and insights with us. We look forward to launching the next thematic learning group in April on the topic of “Building a Marketing Strategy” – if your social enterprise could benefit from this kind of targeted support, capacity-building, and networking, we invite you to join us by applying to the TRANSFORM Support Hub!