Imagine you have a great idea for a new product or service. The business plan is written and the profit potential looks promising. The brand name is memorable, the target audience has been identified and the distribution channel has been established. You even have a good amount of capital to get things going. "So," you think to yourself, "let's design a logo, create a brochure and website, and start marketing this puppy!"

Whoa there!
To give your start-up business the perfect launch, let's first consider positioning. Positioning a brand requires lots of strategic planning before jumping into the tactical execution. If you're a regular reader of PositionistView, you're familiar with the concept of positioning -- differentiating your brand (from others) in the mind of the consumer. It's the "one thing" that clearly stands out as the personality of your brand. Is it low price? Safety? Beauty? Fun? Speed? Before you launch anything, it's imperative that you focus on positioning your brand and know your difference in relation to the competing companies, products and brands.

Know your competition
Before even thinking about positioning a brand, you should know who your competitors are and their marketing positions. If both you and a competing brand have a low-price position, for instance, you'll end up in a price war. Or, if another brand is already a leader in the category you're entering, you'll have to spend a ton of money to unseat it. When positioning a brand, it's better to go against the competition with a position that differentiates and separates you from the pack. However, a word of caution -- don't simply be different for difference sake. The difference has to be relevant and believable.

Positioning is prescriptive
Once you've established a position for your brand, your marketing message becomes much more focused. No longer will you have to recite a litany of benefits to persuade a customer to buy. Instead, your position will define your brand and you can create a "sticky" message your customers will remember forever. Positioning a brand helps to create a "personality" reflecting the culture of your business.

For example, if your brand position revolved around safety, in addition to your product being the safest you could make it, your whole company would have safety as its mantra, with lighted parking lots, skid-free floors, alarm systems, etc. Or, if your position was friendly service, every single contact with one of your customers should deliver on that promise. It's called "living the brand," and it causes your customers to believe in your position, believe in your product and believe in you. Remember, positioning a brand is the first step to success.

OK, now go figure out your brand position, launch that baby, market like crazy and make a fortune!

Jeff Monter is Innis Maggiore's Principal Creative Services.