How to Build a Powerful Coworking Brand (Episode 4)
This article is the fourth episode in our coworking brand building series and we are going to elaborate on how to choose brand positioning. You will learn to draw a consumer portrait, search for a single positioning word and work with your landing page from the perspective of brand building knowledge you already have.
In case you didn't have a chance to get acquainted with previous brand building episodes, here are the links to the tutorials:
- Brand Building Series: How to Build a Powerful Coworking Space Brand (Episode 1)
- Brand Building Series: How to Build a Powerful Coworking Space Brand (Episode 2)
- Brand Building Series: How to Build a Powerful Coworking Space Brand (Episode 3)
The moment when you need to make a decision has come. It's challenging to identify brand positioning and brand building strategy not because it's something complicated but because you need to pick out one final option from a multitude of options.
This choice may be compared to the one when you are choosing your future wife/husband. There are billions of men/women in the world but you pick out a special one to spend a lifetime with.
Supposing you are happy with the result of your coworking brand building efforts. You collected many insights and info. Read on to know what to do with all those files.
Ideally, you need to see a person you are going to sell your positioning in front of you. If you have at least one person who loves your coworking space and is ready to pay membership fees, there likely to be more people interested in the offer soon. If you don't have a single fan, it looks like nobody needs the services you provide.
When you are thinking about positioning, place their portrait/avatar in front of you. You need to look into their eyes. You need to understand who is your consumer, what's their name, what do they look like, what brands do they use, and what role in their life would you like to play.
When you "have a consumer in front of you", make the next step.
You probably have many answers. Try to reduce their number to two or three options.
If you have more than three priorities, you don't have any.
If you have 50 variants of positioning, this means you haven't found anything unique. Coming up with less, which is actually more, you need to think like a mathematician and find a common divider for three different types of info.
- Place consumer profile (with name, last name, age, etc.) in front of you. You need to see a person you would like to attract.
- Understand that a consumer doesn’t want to buy a membership. Site 5 - 7 killing facts, numbers, arguments to convince them you are worth their love.
- Appeal to consumer's emotions. What will they feel if they buy a membership at your coworking space brand? What will they feel if they start to use your coworking brand and tell about the experience on socials? What will their colleagues and friends think about them?
Sometimes emotions are more essential than any other benefits. That's why you need to clearly utter your social mission as well. What social mission does customer support when they buy your product? How do they contribute to making the world a better place to live?
When you have three blocks of information — consumer, rational, and emotional — you need to find an idea to unite them. This idea should become a kernel for the entire solution. Look for a single word.
- It must be true, which means the word must reflect the reality at your coworking space, team, history, and technology. This is YOUR word.
- It must thrill the consumer. It must be exciting. The consumer must want to be a part of it, want to get it, want the service work for them, what the unique value produced by your coworking space work for them.
- It must reject competitors. They must envy you because they also want this word but don’t have it.
This is an ideal solution. If your coworking space doesn't differ from competitors too much, you must be the first to conquer the territory. A unique word must be yours, you must be the first to utter and start to use it.
In this case, the consumer starts to think about you when they hear the "code word".
When you finally have your one and only word, it may seem that this is not enough because it's just a single word... Ok, you can extend the word to a phrase of seven (better five) words maximum at this stage.
The phrase should answer the question "what is your difference." You need to have a couple of variants. You may have more unique points but some of them are more important than the other. The rest of your unique features will support the main one.
You see, I don't mean you must pick one unique feature of your coworking space and forget about the rest. What I am asking you to do is identify which feature is the key one.
Your main word must be productive. It should reveal a series of obvious solutions at any angle of the brand model.
For example, if your word is Norway, what kind of design should your coworking space have? The answer is obvious. It should be cold as Norway is a cold country. No bright colors as they are more suitable for Italy or Brazil. You are creating a cold world.
What will communication be like? Will it be bright and drum up? No, because it doesn't fit the Norwegian temperament.
If you picked out this word, it can't be short-term. If the word is going to live for three-six months and then you will need to change it, it doesn't match. You need something lasting, your positioning must have a warranty period of three-five years. However, the ideal term of positioning service is forever and a day when you don't need to change it at all. You can change the details of positioning but the essence should stay constant. Your positioning word must be productive across multiple platforms and genres.
You can test it with the help of storytelling. Write a story of 10 sentences that starts like this: "Once upon a time..." or "Once there lived a man... who bought a membership at your coworking brand."
Do you remember the story of the Leatherman brand from our previous lessons? Multi-tool Leatherman has many customers' stories (tool tales) where people tell how it nearly saved their lives.
Once there lived a man who bought multi-tool Leatherman. He wanted to cross the river covered with ice but unfortunately, the ice cracked and the car started to go deeper under the water. Safety belts blocked and he and his wife couldn't get out of the drowning car. The story has a happy end because a man had multi-tool Leatherman on his belt.
Firstly, he cut his wife's safety belt, then his own. After that, he broke the window with the same tool and got out of the car. The man has literally saved his family with the help of multi-tool Leatherman.
Leatherman brand positioning sounds like "tool for real life" and you understand that you really need the tool for real life. Even if you have no frozen lake or river that you are going to cross in the near future, you may buy your son a toy car. You need a crosshead screwdriver to take the car from the podium but you can't find it at the moment. No worries, you can use your multi-tool Leatherman for any purpose.
I am sure you got the idea.
Examples of coworking brands positioning:
Do you remember these examples from our first lesson? Now you will probably look at them from another perspective.
"Revolutionize your workspace" — this is what WeWork says right from their homepage. The slogan is very loud and bold. It is absolutely unsuitable for a small coworking space, though, WeWork is a well-known coworking network with over 500 locations worldwide. Workspace is their craft. From private offices to whole headquarters, they create spaces that work for established enterprises and growing startup, so this positioning works well for them.
Selina coworking network offers "a new way to stay, explore, and cowork" to digital nomads, families on vacation, adventurous backpackers, or surfers looking for paradise. Their positioning perfectly reflects the idea behind the ecosystem, where you can stay, eat, work, surf, explore, and find a deeper connection with the world.
"Work anywhere. Live differently." — Similar to Selina, Outsite provides coliving spaces, community, and services designed for remote workers and entrepreneurs. They help people live their best lives, with the freedom to live and work anywhere.
Mindspace positions itself as a "global boutique coworking" which attracts members loving fancy interiors and unique style. At Mindspace, they enjoy the benefits of boutique design and services with the expertise and reliability of a global provider. Having an office at Mindspace equals to having an office that matches your dreams. All people believe they deserve the best, and Mindspace cares about giving them just that.
Brands are telling stories not only about their services, consumers but about people. A story in the modern world is a universal testing tool. Modern people are tired of big data. They are tortured by information.
So, the main question to your positioning word is whether it stirs millions of stories in consumer's head. Because when we are talking about positioning, the biggest mistake is to become a slave to logic.
The problem with positioning born by logic is that is doesn't encourage consumers to tell their own stories associated with this positioning. You don't need to be absolutely serious when you come up with your positioning because if a brand stirs emotions, people will joke about it, they will tell funny stories related to the brand, etc.
Remember how many stories people tell about their phones. How they lost a phone, found it, how somebody found their phone and read the message, etc. All those stories happen in real life. You can't use academic, technical or statistical vocabulary to describe real-life events.
"Connecting people" ~ positioning by Nokia
When people hear or read the words about connection, they think about the beloved people they want to be connected to. They buy the phone to stay connected to those they love. I guess this is a great explanation of good brand positioning.
Things are way easier in the modern world. You can just create a landing page prototype instead of doing all the positioning in theory. A landing page is actually a primitive one-page website. It's a long page you can only scroll which describes your concept. You can make two or three variants of a landing page. Working on each option you will feel which is the most productive. It will be easier for you to write texts, arguments, find images, and videos for one of the concepts.
When your landing page is ready, you can start a Facebook campaign even if a brand or product doesn't exist. Make an offer you are going to use for years to the consumer and see if it works, if there is a conversion, or which message is going to have more conversions.
If old-school marketing was all about premonition and research, modern marketing is about the experiment. You are not a fortune teller, you don't know which concept is the most productive, why not to use the available resources to check all of them?
For instance, you can taxify $1 per country on ads to check the demand if you are going to scale up but not sure where to focus.
You can go even further and pre-sale memberships like Creative States did for their new branch in Dnipro. They pre-sold four months in advance.
Build a community before you start. I didn't do that with Urbanfish. If we are to restart from scratch before opening a new space I would arrange some meet up with startups, talk to them, ask if they need an office, if they need a desk.
Gather 40 - 50 people in the area that say "OK, we need a desk." Create a community, some people that want to come to the coworking space, create some stuff, drink coffee, work together with other people.
This is the best advice for freelancers. You'll get a kind of guarantee that your space will monetize quickly. That's what I needed to do before launching my two spaces. I learn from my mistakes and this time if we go we know that there are 30 people inside.
~ Interview with Xavier Bertschy, the Owner of Urbanfish Coworking (Bern, Switzerland)
You may experience the most unexpected turns when a "weak" concept starts to perform better than "strong."
Even if you make a technically perfect offer but it doesn't touch the consumer's heart, it's a failure. If you decide to make focus groups, in-depth interviews, whatever to know what consumers want, never delegate decision making to people. You are the only person who can make the decision.
You need to estimate how much a customer will be emotionally involved and if your positioning gets in a love or hate situation. This is what you are looking for. Don't try to be loved by everyone. Your aim is to get true fans and haters. Otherwise, you are creating mediocrity. It may be nice but nobody needs it.
Only the brightest niche brands become popular today while mainstream solutions don't touch anybody's feelings.
Think about Priority Pass airport lounges. The service allows passengers to leave the noise, crowds, and chaos behind once they've left security behind. Lounges transform the airport experience from an endurance test into a moment of indulgence offering complimentary drinks, refreshments, pre-flight bites, charging points, free Wi-Fi, conference rooms for business meetings, pre-flight spa treatments, you can even invite your family, friends or colleagues to join you in the Lounge Class experience.
Membership cards are definitely not cheap but passengers are ready to pay for feeling special. This is a good example of how bright ideas become popular.
Greendesk is one more example of a bright idea that touches people's feelings. You can hardly find too many people who don't care about global environmental problems. Eco-friendly workplaces like Greendesk show people ways to contribute to solving those problems.
Each Greendesk location is renovated with recycled Wood Floors, Aluminum & Glass, helping them stay green from the ground up. They supply members with reusable cups anytime throughout the day. They strive to use eco-friendly products wherever possible, and that starts with paper stock. Their buildings use LED & CFL lights which uses 1/4 the energy as a regular bulb. They are also on timers. With both regular and electronic bins in every building, they make sure the unneeded items make their way to their next lives.
To choose a positioning you need to imagine real-life situations.
For example, you are having a Christmas party. All your managers and partners are looking at you. You have only two minutes for a speech to motivate them for the next year. You need one key idea, you are holding a glass of champaign in your hand. What will you talk about? Your positioning must be this key idea.
When you are coming up with positioning, I encourage you to learn from other segments. I don't mean you should rewrite your neighboring coworking positioning. Learn from the best world coworking brands. See how they shape their slogan and their legend.
When you'll have two or three positionings in front of you, you will need a checklist to make a decision.
This instrument will help you compare your concepts easily and make your best pick.
- Do your management structure, culture, and team match your new brand positioning?
- Does your coworking hub (which is your product) support new positioning?
- Do you have consistent design elements? What powerful symbols do you have? How will they differ from competitors?
- What unique experience will your workspace give to members? What is a "must" and what will be "wow"?
- What will you talk about as a brand? What content are you going to produce?
- Is your idea powerful enough to unite people around? How are you going to build a community?
- How will you talk about yourself? How will you communicate your ideas?
- What level of technologies should support new positioning? How will you develop the technology?
So, you have made one more step towards building a powerful coworking space brand. Now you have your unique brand positioning or at least you know how to brainstorm it. What's next? The next phase is the implementation of your brand positioning. In the next lesson, I will teach you how to efficiently describe your positioning model to turn it into a powerful branding instrument and implement it.
Do you have any questions on the above material? Feel free to ask them in the comment, your thoughts/impressions/suggestions are also welcome there. Don't forget to share the article with friends on socials.