Trust is no longer just about product performance.
Brand positioning establishes “a place that the brand occupies in the mind of the consumer” helping establish a competitive difference that is meaningful and relevant. In short, it wraps up the company’s offering with a neat bow and directs all brand activity. In the past there was an underlying assumption that the consumer would never get to see behind the scenes and look at how a company was operating. Trust (as we know) is a key driver in brand sales and is built for the most part through product performance and customer service.
With the rapid changes brought about by the events of 2020, coupled with Gen Z coming of age, the way a brand operates has now become an essential part of building consumer trust. Brand positioning has expanded into a blueprint for brands and the way they operate. In other words when the wrapping is taken away it’s important that what the consumer finds underneath is worthy of the faith they have placed in a brand.
Moving forward a brand not only needs to establish a positioning strategy, it also needs to ask “What kind of brand do I want to be?” By asking this question a strategy not only directs brand activity designed for all the world to see, but it also becomes a set of principles that guides company operations, processes and culture. Promises made to the consumer go beyond performance and into social responsibility and human impact. Brands that have understood this are positioned for growth.
Here are a few examples of brands that have caught my eye recently:
Everlane is a brand that has been revered since launch for its promise of “radical transparency”. It exists to enable consumers to make the right fashion choices with ease; "As easy as putting on a great T-Shirt”. Their operating principles are focused on "Exceptional Quality. Ethical Factories. Radical Transparency.” The way they engage with their manufacturing facilities to reduce their human impact is a radical approach in an industry much derided for their ethics in this area. Radical transparency also speaks to the way they share their pricing strategy, again a hot topic for the industry, as consumers look to understand why certain brands are more expensive than others.
Function of Beauty is bringing equity to the haircare world both in its product performance and in its operating principles. Recognizing that there is a wide range of needs in hair care, and that the standard solutions on offer were not equitable, they developed personalized products for every hair type. They operate transparently by focusing on ingredient sourcing and testing, putting a stake in the ground where they believe they deliver true value to their consumers. Most importantly they offer these values at a more accessible price-point than many of their competitors.
Cocokind, another beauty example, is upping their game in Clean Beauty by pledging to evolve their transparency by listing formulation and sustainability facts on pack. This gives consumers access to information that was previously unavailable at shelf. Cocokind is also in the process of auditing their supply chain to ensure company standards are upheld.
Product performance was once the proven path to building trust with a consumer. Now performance is a given and brands must go beyond to earn the trust of their consumers. This provides an incredible opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves by answering the question “What kind of brand do I want to be?”