Brand Positioning In The Flexible Office Market
It sometimes feels like brands rule the world. They engage with us everywhere, from the high street to the internet, with pervasive cross-channel advertising. And it’s no accident that they crop up wherever we look – brands spend over $500 billion on advertising each year.
In this regard, flexible workspace operators are no different to any other business – they market themselves just like any other brand. And just like the rest of the companies vying for our attention with ads, they need two things before they achieve marketing success: an understanding of who they’re targeting and an idea of how their brand is positioned.
We’re here to give you a crash course on the importance of brand positioning in the flexspace and coworking market, as well as an overview of some of the most notable brands operating right now and how they’ve nailed their positioning.
What is brand positioning?
Brand positioning can essentially be defined as the unique way in which you aim to stand out in the market. It’s how you get seen in a crowd of competitors as a company that offers something bigger, better, or more relevant than the rest.
Philip Kotler, regarded by some as the ‘father of modern marketing’, echoed this thought in his definition, saying brand positioning is ‘the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target marketing’
With as vague a definition as that, it’s no surprise that brand positioning strategies need to cover a lot of ground. The process of implementing one usually involves a range of activities, including:
- Determining how your brand is currently positioned and how successful that approach is
- Researching competitors to identify their brand positioning strategies and find gaps in the market
- Introspectively identifying what makes your brand unique (or what could make your brand unique in the market)
- Creating a brand positioning document or statement to sum up your approach
- Investigate whether your new brand positioning strategy works through further market research
- Roll your brand positioning strategy out across all channels – addressing everything from operations to marketing
Examples of flexible office and coworking brands’ positioning
With a basic understanding of what brand positioning is and what kind of activities the process involves, the next step is to see it in action. The Spaces to Places positioning model was created to outline how existing flexible office operators have positioned themselves in the market, and provides a rough overview of what options are available to new entrants.
The eight examples included in our brand positioning model are flexible office or coworking brands that have done an excellent job at positioning themselves to suit a certain segment of the market, resulting in them standing out ahead of competitors. Here’s more about how each brand achieved their position in the market.
WeWork - 'Creator' brand persona
It’s impossible to talk about coworking brands without mentioning WeWork, the best known of them all. WeWork is positioned in the market to target idealists – customers who want to embrace new concepts that’ll make their lives easier or better.
They do this through a couple of different means, all hinging around their ultimate focus on building a strong brand that becomes intrinsically linked to their product itself. You can see strong signals as to their positioning in the copy they use across their communications, with a focus on words and phrases like ‘revolutionise’ and ‘workplace of tomorrow’.
Their approach to interior design is also a great fit for their target market, with a trendy styling mixing with genuinely useful features to create an environment that is itself almost ideal.
Runway East - 'Lover' brand persona
Runway East, with locations in London and Bristol, take a very different position in the market. Their offering and communications are both geared towards networkers – people who want to work in a place with a strong social element.
This market position is established through highly humanistic copy with their strapline, ‘we make great teams happier’ immediately focusing on ‘teams’, instead of individuals. They reinforce this focus with phrases like ‘you’re in good company’ and information on the site of what notable companies already use the spaces.
Outside of their marketing and communications, they also build a strong sense of community and sociability in their spaces by offering perks like hosted drinks nights and access for dogs.
VWorks - 'Everyman' brand persona
VWorks, the chain of 18 coworking spaces operating out of Village Hotels locations, is positioned to target inclusion-seekers. These people want to be connected and feel like they’re a part of something larger.
VWorks effectively meets the needs of inclusion-seekers with a flexible membership system which gives members the chance to have their own dedicated desk at a chosen branch or flexible access to all 18 branches. With the first option, members get a sense of belonging and stability. With the second, they become part of a network of remote workers that spans the country.
The fact that the coworking spaces are built into hotels also strengthens the sense of inclusion, with a natural bustle of activity every day and on-site pubs and grills to socialise in.
SiGNAL - 'Caregiver' brand persona
On to a flexible workspace operating on a much smaller scale – SiGNAL in Bordon has a brand presence that’s built from the ground up to target people seeking nurture and support.
Their copy is full of supportive phrases like ‘grow your business’, ‘nurture a local community’, and ‘we’ve got you covered’, making their intentions clear from the off. That’s backed up by a very affordable pricing structure and a range of business support features like training events and workshops.
Biz Space - 'Sage' brand persona
Back on to the national stage, Biz Space – a chain of over 100 locations across the UK – takes on a very pragmatic position in the market.
Their target market is rational and practical thinkers who want a largely no-nonsense workspace. To meet their needs, they embody pragmatism with their strapline of ‘get in, get going’ and their focus on flexibility, simplicity, and affordability in membership options.
They also have a range of tertiary offerings including flexible access to workshops, storage spaces, and meeting rooms, all of which are bound to please anyone seeking practicality above anything else.
The Argyll Club - 'Ruler' brand persona
The Argyll Club is anything but practical in its positioning, taking on the role of the highly exclusive luxury brand in the market and targeting users seeking the best of the best.
This targeting is evident in every element of The Argyll Club’s branding. The first thing you see on their website is the strapline, ‘London’s Finest Offices And Workspaces’, and that message is backed up by words like ‘exceptional’, ‘prestigious’, and ‘enviable’ scattered throughout the copy.
Luxury follows the brand off the internet, too, with their 38 workspaces in prime central London locations boasting highly polished interiors.
Techspace - 'Hero' brand persona
Techspace, a multi-national flexible workspace operator with six locations in London and Berlin, exists specifically to target technology companies that want to grow.
This hyper-focused brand positioning strategy means that Techspace’s offering can be tailored to exactly match the target market’s needs. It does this by carefully choosing locations adjacent to existing tech hubs, building ‘best-in-class’ IT infrastructure into its spaces, and nurturing a community through a member and partner network.
x+why - 'Explorer' brand persona
Finally, there’s the London based operator, x+why, who target the segment of the market made up of explorers and free-thinkers.
Their brand positioning strategy focuses on an innovative approach, pushing their beliefs that businesses should be a ‘force for good’ in their copy, offering access to their proprietary ‘impact assessment programme’, and building unique amenities like hair dryers and wellness studio access into their product.
Why is brand positioning so important in the coworking sector?
While a strong brand positioning strategy is important in any sector, it seems particularly relevant in the flexible workspace sector because of the sheer amount of competition and the rapid market expansion.
An estimated 35% a year rate of growth in the industry means that there’ll always be new competitors fighting for your business. That means brand differentiation, achieved through a successful positioning strategy, is essential if you want to carve out a space in the market for your brand. Whether you choose to differentiate yourself primarily on features or amenities, marketing, or price, there has to be something that makes the customer choose you over the alternative.
If you’re ready to seriously consider how your brand is positioned and what changes you can make to stand out among the increasing competition, get in touch for a free chat about how Spaces to Places can help.