Last week, I spoke at the European Wedding Congress (EWC). I shared the stage with a good friend, Mike Larson. He spoke about specialization.

Because of the limited time to speak, I figured that I’d use this opportunity to elaborate on this concept because everyone needs to know this.

tofurious speaker

Brand Positioning

When it comes to a competitive marketplace, the goal is for your brand to be the first in consumers’ minds. This top of mind awareness or TOMA is for a specific category.

For example, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic was Charles Lindbergh. If a desired category is taken, you create a new category. For example, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic was Amelia Earhart. Since they were the first of said categories, their names are etched into our minds.

For creative artists, a generic formula can be as follows: [your craft] for [target audience].

mike larson private estate wedding photographer

For example, Larson’s position is “Private Estate and Vineyard Wedding Photographer.” He does not shoot pets nor does he shoot in hotels. As a tradeoff for always photographing in this category is that he becomes extremely skilled with outdoor light, the history of estates and posing of wedding couples.

Brand Positions Must Have Anti-Positions

One of the key concepts of positioning is that you must not be everything else. This is the law of sacrifice.

Therefore, if you cannot easily identify your antithesis, you do not have a clear position.

While at the EWC, an attendee asked for help with her site. Despite it looking pretty, I was bewildered as to what she did as a profession. She confessed that she – a wedding planner – was once emailed about photography services. I told her that that was a telltale sign of ambiguity.

A Brand Position Does Not Need to Exclude Per Se

One of the greatest fears, especially by creative artists, is exclusion. I understand how business is scarce and exclusion can be daunting.

However, there is a way around exclusion all while maintaining a clear brand position. I explained at EWC that you could always position yourself with a positive emotion. Since Jasmine Star gave the introduction for the conference, I used her as an example.

jasmine star introduces ewc

Star’s position is “Lifestyle photographer for fabulous people.” Therefore, her antithesis is “unfabulous people.” Is anyone going to admit to being unfabulous? Therefore, while Star does take a position, the population she excludes is a nuance.

Small Reach Leads to Copycats

As part of my presentation, I discussed the inevitability of copycats. Since a creative artist’s brand presence is limited to his or her social media reach, there is a high possibility for copying. And no one will be any the wiser.

In the end, surely there is another private estates wedding photographer or artist who caters to fabulous people.

alley cat

Consequently, there is only one way to trademark your position. And that is to trademark yourself. No one can be a better version of you. I elaborated about that here and in my book TRUST.

We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people..
-Howard Schultz
Starbucks CEO

Similarly, you are first yourself, then a creative artist. For example, I am a Chipotle and Starbucks loving fanatic who so happens to be a marketing strategist.

Hope that clarifies things,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. Positioning is a strategy popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout in 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

P.P.S. For those who did not know, Amsterdam is known for a lot of things, including cheese. Since Julie travels with me everywhere, guess what we brought back a lot of?

amsterdam cheese