Specify. Choose. Specify. Choose. Specify.

Here are the last four months of teaching branding at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art summarized into two verbs.

  • SPECIFY: The market isn’t homogenous. Which clusters of people do you see of people that are similar to each other, and meaningfully different to people in other clusters? Don’t segment based on age: people aged the same aren’t all similar. Think of segments like ‘Family car buyers’, ‘Weekend car buyers’, ‘Commuters’, ‘Business drivers’, and see if you can further slice those segments.
  • CHOOSE: Which market segment do you target? You must choose: you cannot position without targeting, and without positioning everything becomes extremely boring.
  • SPECIFY: Who’s your target customer? Which unmet needs and unsaid feelings does she/he have?
  • CHOOSE: Which of these do you tailor too? Choose one proposition, don’t combine. How do you position against your competition: What do you do better or differently?
  • SPECIFY: What’s your products on your product feature, what’s the functional benefit? And what’s the benefit to the customer? How does it make your customer feel? Avoid nouns. Don’t say ‘trendy’ or ‘happy’, this doesn’t describe anything. If you say ‘faster’: what makes you faster? If you say ‘comfortable’, what does that mean?

With these five steps, you go from segmentation to targeting and positioning — positioning not just towards your customers, but also against your competitors. And you specify how that fits together, from your physical product to its emotional benefits in mind of your consumer. Pick your words carefully. In strategy, they’re the only thing you have.