The Onlyness Statement

Here's a quick test to see if you have positioned your company properly

If you haven't heard of 'positioning', it's where you define and try to “own” a marketing niche for your brand. This could be a company, product, service, or even your personal brand.

The specific positioning technique we'll be looking at is called the 'onlyness statement' and was developed by a brand strategist named Marty Neumeier - you can read about it in his book Zag.

The main idea is that if your company is strategically positioned correctly, you should be 'the only' (something) in your specific category.

It loosely follows the 'who, what, where, when, why, how' format of writing a news story:

What: The only (category)

How: that (differentiation characteristic)

Who: for (customer)

Where: in (market geography)

Why: who (need state)

When: during (underlying trend)

Reformatted, it reads like a positioning statement, and is a helpful way to get startups to think about their positioning. So next time you are doing a workshop you can print out these worksheets.

[ Onlyness Statement Worksheet (printable .pdf) ]

By popular demand, here's a copy and paste-able version

(feel free to adjust the prepositions and pronouns for your specific case)

(company name) is the only (type of company or product) that (unique product or service you provide) for (target audience) in (geographic region or market) who wants to (customer's emotional motivation) during a time of (increasing or decreasing cultural trend)

Here's where most people get it wrong

When you add in your phrases and read it, it might sound great, but then try substituting a direct competitor's name instead of yours, if it still rings true then you have a problem with the statement. This means you didn't take any bold stands to differentiate you from competition. To get your positioning right, you will need to change one (or multiple) parts of the statement until you are THE ONLY one that fits for the statement.

The man who developed the technique says it best:

"If you can’t say why your brand is both different and compelling in a few words, don’t fix your positioning statement…fix your company." - Marty Neumeier

Onlyness Statement Examples

Let's look at an example of what a good onlyness statement might look like, this is the example out of Neumeier's book:

Harley Davidson is the only motorcycle manufacturer that makes big, loud motorcycles for macho guys (and macho wannabes), mostly in the United States, who want to join a gang of cowboys, in an era of decreasing personal freedom.