How to Build a Powerful Coworking Brand (Episode 2)
This is the second article in our coworking brand building series. In case you didn't have a chance to check out the first one, please follow this link, study the essentials of the first coworking brand building article necessary for the start and join me here ;-).
You are already aware of the coworking brand notion, you also know why it is so important to build a coworking business brand, and maybe you even started to think about the best coworking brand positioning.
In this article, we are going to move further and clearly define:
- What is brand positioning?
- What are the basics of good coworking brand positioning?
- How to figure out if a coworking brand has positioning?
- How to make customers want your services?
Of course, I will supply all the above material with descriptive examples to make it easier to adopt.
Shall we begin?
A marketing professional can list you many features to recognize good and bad brand positioning, however, the main criterion is always the same:
A good brand positioning is always a nail in the head.
Excellent positioning is a driving force that makes you move forward. It doesn't leave you a single chance for excuses. You can't just say "I don't know what to do, who I am and where I am going."
If you have proper brand positioning, you know who you are perfectly well, you know why you are different, what are you doing and why you want to do it as soon as possible. The only thing you need is a fulcrum, which you are going to use to move the world.
That's why you need positioning, which is actually a fulcrum. You need a key idea to unite people around your coworking space. It doesn't matter if they are team members or customers, you need a point of passion, a boiling point. This is what great positioning all about.
If a positioning doesn't make your heart beat faster, it's a bad positioning or you don't like your business, or you are just not involved enough into it. Business for an entrepreneur is an art that they can't delegate.
Business is like sex. You can't delegate it as you are not delegating sex with your significant one, aren't you? This is incredible!
~ A. Fedoriv
You also don't delegate bringing up kids. You can delegate your nanny to take care of your kid while you are at work. But nobody can grow up your kid.
Positioning is your job, nobody will do it instead of you or better than you. Only you, as an owner, can energize this business.
Before, when an entrepreneur was looking for unique positioning, marketing managers advised them to talk to the customers and ask them what they want. But it's a poor practice.
Consumers can ask you to let them into coworking space with guns, will you allow this? Never!
So, positioning should be a kind of interests match where a unique query meets the relevant proposition and aligns with your personal values, resonates with your dream occupation. Positioning is something you are ready to devote your life to.
When working on a coworking brand positioning, you need to keep in mind that you have only two budgets — time and money. Your time is limited, so why wasting it on nonsense? Spend it on essential things.
If you know for sure what clients you are ready to lose, it is the first step to great positioning.
For example, if you are building a coworking space with kindergarten, like CanGo in Santiago, Chile, people who have no families and kids may not come. You don't need to worry about this. Satisfy only the target audience. It’s okay to refuse to a non-target customer.
Remember that there are two pillars of awesome positioning:
- Technology that solves a particular problem better than others (like having a nursery, professional babysitters, safe playgrounds, etc. if you are running a coworking for parents.)
- An emotion that will make people feel happier when their problem is solved.
Good positioning is not necessarily constant, yet, the essence must stay the same. You must always keep an eye on current technologies as sometimes even powerful brands are kicked out of the market if they don't pay enough attention to innovation.
This happened to Kodak and Nokia, which underestimated digital photography and growing smartphones popularity.
Let's imagine the situation where you are creating a coworking startup. You don't know what will it be like. You need a universal key that would solve all the issues, you need a kernel that would make your business holistic.
Sometimes one word is enough to define your business (i.e.: "child-friendly" for a family coworking.) You understand if it fits you or not and start to create a new hero, a new world. Your newly-created world requires DNA, it needs a basic foundation principle, which is actually a good positioning.
Here are a few examples of coworking brand positioning that doesn't work:
- We are more than a coworking space (opinionated blah - blah - blah.)
- We are experts in coworking (too obvious, if you have chosen this business niche, you must be an expert in coworking.)
- Best workplace (too subjective, what's good for one freelancer is unacceptable for another.)
- High quality, good quality, quality (people already expect high quality, seems like you doubt it yourself, this is not a positioning, not your unique feature, it's just a must-have.)
- The fastest internet in town (you can’t be proud of essential customers' expectations.)
- Become happy with X (makes no sense as members' may not connect their happiness with your workspace, coworking space is just a small part of their lives.)
- This is made with love (why pay more for something that was made with love?)
Your coworking brand positioning must immediately specify your offer. The best ideas in the world were the simplest. Just remember the positioning of Hillary Clinton in her campaign vs. Donald Trump.
Make America great again.
The best positioning is super simple and fool-proof. Actually, an elevator pitch is the best way to check if your positioning is excellent.
Supposing you have prepared a 400 slides presentation of your coworking business. It took you nearly half a year. You can't wait to test it on a very important corporate client. But they say: "Sorry, I need to go but you can accompany me to the car and tell the key points on the go."
- Is it enough time for you to impressively pitch your business?
- Will you manage to reply to the main question why will it work for your customer?
- Will you be able to describe your positioning with a pen on the flip side of your business card?
- Will you be able to describe your positioning in the SMS to your 7-year old son?
If your answer is "It's impossible," you have no positioning. Your positioning should have roots deep in your business, otherwise, it's just words.
If you’re not proud of your business, get rid of it.
~ Richard Branson
If you want to make business slightly better than competitors, don’t even start it. Your business must be radically better, it must be 100 times better. How can you define this? You need to brainstorm an idea, you need positioning. It is impossible to develop a brilliant strategy, you need to come up with it.
If there is a picture on your mind that doesn't let you sleep at night so much you want to bring it to life, this is probably a good positioning.
Let's view a couple of examples of brands all of us love.
You surely know multitool Laserman. The brand has a very interesting story. Let me remind it in brief.
A couple got married and set off on a trip across Europe. They rented a tiny Fiat 500 that was a real headache and broke all the time. During their trip, new instruments appeared in their trunk every now and again.
Instead of enjoying the honeymoon, Mr. Laserman had to do the repair. At the end of the trip, he thought that it would be cool to have one compact multitool right on his belt to fix the car instead of the heavy tool chest in his trunk.
He understood that if he needs a multitool, somebody else is also likely to require it. He has been designing the tool in his garage for 3,5 years. He tried to combine pliers, wrenches, and more in something portable. As you understand, he found a solution.
He started to offer his multitool to retailers but they were skeptical about the innovation. He got his first order after a few years of attempts. Today, Laserman is a company that sells their multitool globally. And they are doing it for tens of years already.
The brand is famous thanks to a single solution, an instrument that includes lots of tools and can be put in a pocket. So simple, yet, this is a great positioning. They are selling a tool for real life.
If there was not for Laserman's pain point, if there was not for an engineering solution, there would be no brand. This is the case when the last name of the inventor has become a symbol of the brand.
Airbnb, a shortened version of its original name, AirBedandBreakfast.com, is a bright example of a startup that won over the hotel industry. The company is an online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences based in San Francisco, California, United States.
The enterprise was conceived after its founders, former schoolmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia put an air mattress in their living room, effectively turning their apartment into a bed and breakfast, in order to offset the high cost of rent in San Francisco.
With no investors and thousands of dollars of debt, the founders had to resort to selling cereals to keep the company afloat. It took almost two years before Airbnb saw some traction.
Tough, the most recent statistics show that Airbnb now has over 2 million listings in over 190 countries and 34,000 cities. Airbnb hosts have hosted over 40 million guests. The company is worth an estimated 25.5 billion, based on the latest round of funding of 1.5 billion.
If you want to check whether your positioning is good, answer these three questions:
- Have you found a non-trivial way to solve somebody’s problem?
- Have you found a business model to earn on it?
- Have you found your passion?
Brand positioning must be your emotional boiling point because you need to deliver this emotion to consumers.
I understand that you already have a coworking business or maybe you are launching a startup. Can you tell who did you build this business for? Why should consumers choose you?
You want to be appealing to your audience, so the temptation to answer with some conventional stuff that seems right is strong.
Love, expertise, new technologies, etc. are dead words.
They were killed by advertising, the consumer has heard them thousands of times. They won't believe you, so it's better to find fresh words to explain what makes you different. You need to make a prospect want your services. They should exclaim: "Wow! Cool, I want to become a member! I think your space is exactly what I need. It will solve my problem and make my life simpler, better, and more interesting."
You need to be sober and estimate your coworking business on a ten-point scale.
Be honest answering whether you are different from five key competitors. If you believe you are different and customers prefer your workspace for some reason, you must figure out why clients fell in love with you. Now analyze if customers' words coincide with the message you planned to convey. If so, you need to enhance it.
- Please also think how long will your concept live?
- How long nobody will copy it?
The next step is to answer the question "What differentiates you?" in a few words (ten words maximum.) Write down your answer and then ask ten employees "What is unique about our coworking space?" Then ask ten existing customers the same. Analyze all answers to find out similarities.
You must point out the uniqueness of your business three times:
- for yourself,
- for employees,
- and for customers.
In fact, positioning is like a mantra. You create it once and then repeat all the time. You can edit it a bit to keep updated.
Imagine yourself a woodpecker and start to peck the "wood." The process must be endless.
Well, we have finished for now and here is your first brand building homework: review my examples of good and bad positioning once again and try to come up with a concrete answer what differentiates your coworking brand, why is it unique.
The exercise will be even more efficient if you share this guide with your friends and put down the best positioning options in the comments.
Your questions, thoughts, and feedback are surely more than welcome.