The following is an excerpt from Mark Pecota’s new book, CROWDFUNDED. Mark Pecota is the CEO & co-founder of LaunchBoom a global crowdfunding agency who is a Certified Expert by both Indiegogo & Kickstarter.

It’s surprising but 63.5% of all crowdfunding campaigns fail. When I tell people this, most are shocked and then immediately ask…


Well, the answer usually leaves them more shocked.

“They didn’t position their product correctly,” I answer.

That’s right. The number one reason why products don’t succeed is poor product positioning. That’s because great product positioning is the foundation on which the rest of your crowdfunding campaign is built. Start with weak product positioning, and your whole campaign will topple over before you finish.

But what is great product positioning?

Great product positioning is effectively communicating the value of your product to your target audience. There are two key aspects of this statement:

  1. Target audience: finding the people online that experience the problem your product solves.
  2. Communicating the value: explaining how your product solves their problem.

Developing great product positioning is a process that takes time. But we’ve adopted a framework that makes it easy to develop your initial product positioning. That framework is called the Consumer Based Brand Equity Pyramid.

The Consumer Based Brand Equity Pyramid

At this point, your product is probably somewhere between an idea and a functional prototype. Any thought of who your customers will be and what product positioning they will respond to is purely a hypothesis. That’s okay.

First, we need to get all of this information out of your head and onto paper.

To do this, we use the Consumer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Pyramid. I’ve found this to be lean enough that it doesn’t take too much time to complete, yet powerful enough to have a profound impact on your campaign.

crowdfunding product positioning

The underlying principle of CBBE is the assumption that you do not own your brand, your customers do. It is something that lives in their mind. For that reason, we approach messaging/branding as if we are a consumer.

To properly decipher the pyramid framework above, it’s best to read it bottom to top. Reading it from bottom to top tells the story of a consumer’s relationship with a brand and each tier builds upon the one below it. Consumers may develop thoughts and feelings for every box in the CBBE Pyramid in a single second, but they will still run from bottom to top.

To illustrate how this framework works, let’s try an experiment. I’m going to write down a brand you most likely know. I want you to notice what appears in your mind’s eye – what images, associations, sensations, and experiences appear? Here we go…


Ok, your brain has already gone through the entire framework in the blink of an eye. I’ll break down how it works for me.

Salience: sells coffee
Performance: affordable, locations everywhere, fast, easy experience, same coffee every time
Imagery: green mermaid logo, cozy coffee shop, coffee with cream
Judgements: corporate, friendly staff, coffee tastes decent
Feelings: warmth, caffeine buzz, trustworthy, dependable, loyal
Resonance: will choose Starbucks and go with friends & family because I trust the company and consistent experience I will get

You may have completely different associations with Starbucks, but I bet you relate to quite a few of the words I wrote. Starbucks has spent a lot of time & money for me to have those associations with their brand.

Even though you are just starting, you can still design how you want your consumer to think and feel about your brand. That is what we are going to be doing during this process. Let’s start with the base of the Pyramid.

Level 1: Who Are You?

Level 1 makes up the foundation of the pyramid and contains what we call salience. During this level, the consumer is asking the broad question, “Who are you?” If your brand has salience, they know who you are and they know what problem you solve.

The best way to establish salience is to state what problem you solve in the simplest way possible. You’ll want to use words and broad associations that consumers will recognize. This way, consumers can quickly associate your product with a category they already understand. Do not overthink this part!

For example, on our campaign for the Give’r Frontier Mittens, our headline was “the best damn mittens ever.” The “mittens” part is playing to salience. We could have gone with “the quad-layer, super warm, hand insulator.” This is all true, but we didn’t choose that. Why? Because no one knows what that means. They can probably pull some associations from that sentence and may think it sounds cool, but if they aren’t 100% sure what you are, then we failed.

In the questionnaire, you’ll be asked a few questions like:

  • What product category are you in?
  • What problem do you solve?
  • What is your product in a sentence or two?

Again, keep it simple. Dumb it down and use words that your audience understands immediately.

Level 2: What Are You?

The next level of the Pyramid contains performance and imagery. During this level, the consumer is asking the question, “What are you?” This is where they are trying to understand what makes you different from the competition. Since there are two sections to this level, I’ll look at each separately.


Some questions that you’ll answer about performance are:

  • What makes you different from your competition (points of difference)?
  • What makes you similar to your competition (points of parity)?
  • What are the core features of your product?
  • How valuable is your product?


Here’s an example of a graphic that plays entirely to performance for our client LoftTek.

crowdfunding product positioning

As a consumer, I am able to see all the primary features of the jacket with certain features highlighted. This also illustrates both the points of parity and points of difference. For example, many jackets have zipper pockets, a hood, water resistance, etc. – consumers love these features. But not many jackets have all these features. The fact that LoftTek is over-engineered is actually a feature. It’s a point of difference. This is the level of detail you’ll want to write out in your questionnaire.

In the end, the main goal of these questions is for you to identify how you are better than your competition. Ideally, you’ll have 3 main points of difference.


Some questions that you’ll answer about imagery are:

  • What brands would you associate with your product?
  • Where is your product used?
  • How is your product used?


When I wrote Starbucks above, you likely had images flash in your mind that you associate with that brand… coffee brewing, green aprons, carmel running down the inside of a frappe, the dark swirls of a fresh cup of coffee. You can do the same exercise for any well-known brand and the result will be the same. Whatever imagery association you have with that brand will appear in your mind. These brands have spent billions of dollars to evoke those images and experiences. 

Now, you have a new brand. When someone hears your product’s name, nothing will come to mind. But you can change that by identifying which well-known brands you want to be associated with and choose imagery that will stick with your customer.

When we launched the William Painter Empire sunglasses, we wanted to associate their brand with one that was high-tech, adventurous, and innovative. That’s why we chose NASA. Our top performing headline in ads was “These NASA Inspired Sunglasses Are Made Of Aerospace-Grade Titanium.” You can see the ad below.crowdfunding product positioning

For our campaign, the RovR Wheeled Cooler, we wanted to include imagery that supported the performance point of durability. We could have just said it was durable, but instead, we went a little further. We included imagery of a bear (yes an actual bear) trying to get into the cooler and failing. This imagery actually shows the consumer that RovR is durable. And most importantly, it’s an unforgettable image that makes them more likely to purchase.

Level 3: What About You?

The next level of the Pyramid contains judgements and feelings. During this level, the consumer is asking the question, “How good are you?” Essentially, the consumer is trying to figure out what they think and feel about your brand/product. They are taking your performance and imagery points from the layer below, evaluating them, and forming opinions about them.


Some questions that you’ll answer about judgements are:

  • What positive judgements will people have about your product?
  • What concerns or doubts may people have about your product?
  • What credibility do you have in the space?


For our client, The Neck Hammock, who raised $1,642,934, we claimed it could give neck pain relief in ten minutes or less. We knew that this would cause concern and doubt in people. Here are some concerns that we thought people would have:

  • Is there scientific evidence of why it works?
  • Are there testimonials from people that have used it?
  • What credibility does the person have that created it?


Each of these concerns, and many more, were directly addressed in our messaging. For example…

  • Is there scientific evidence of why it works?
    • We explained the science of Cervical Traction and how it works.
  • What credibility does the person have that created it?
    • The founder is a doctor and licensed physical therapist and used the device on his patients.
  • Are there testimonials from people that have used it?
    • We included written and video testimonials from the founder’s clients.


Because we took the time to identify possible judgements before we launched, we were able to address any concerns, doubts, or questions of credibility directly within our messaging.


Some questions that you’ll answer about feelings are:

  • How do you want people to feel when using your product?
  • What is the voice of your message? (As a friend, a teacher, a doctor, a professional, an expert – what type of language will we be using?)
  • What is the tone of your message? (Funny, somber, optimistic, epic, intense, friendly, etc.)


Our client AIR PIX, who raised $1,615,135, is an aerial drone that allows you to take photo and video selfies. We wanted to capture the feelings of youthfulness and fun. When thinking through this, we knew that the word “drone” did not convey those feelings. Most consumers associate drones with tech-focused brands or the military. This is not the mental imagery we wanted the potential consumer to associate with AIR PIX.

To combat this, we decided to drop the word “drone” from our messaging. Instead, we called AIR PIX an “aerial camera” and our most popular headline was “your pocket-sized aerial photographer.” Even though it’s technically a drone, we found another way to describe what AIR PIX is without that word.

Level 4: What About You And Me?

We’ve made it to the top of the Pyramid where the only thing left to talk about is resonance. During this level, the consumer is asking the question, “What about you and me?” This is where we identify reasons why the consumer will have a loyal, active relationship with your brand.

Some questions that you’ll answer at this stage are:

  • Why would you be missed?
  • How is your mission in alignment with your customer’s mission?
  • What are your core values?
  • Why will your customers only choose you?


For our client, etee, a membership club for those that want plastic-free alternatives to everyday items, we were able to lean heavily into resonance. Their mission is to remove plastic from our world. This is a massive goal, but one that their audience can get behind.

Not every product has such an altruistic mission, and that’s okay! Let’s go back to the Starbucks example. At the end of the day, they are making coffee which is great and all, but the world doesn’t need it the same way we need to reduce our plastic consumption. Still, Starbucks has been able to build an extremely loyal and active customer base by focusing on fulfilling their mission: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” This may sound a bit aspirational for a coffee company, but Starbucks is doing this one way or another, which is how they are so successful.

Developing Your Product Positioning

Go to and download the Product Positioning Worksheet. You’ll want to fill out each question as completely as possible. If you are stuck, you may be overthinking the question. It shouldn’t take more than two hours to fill out. The information below will guide you through filling it out.


In the first section, we break down each part of the CBBE Questionnaire and have specific questions for you. Go through each question and answer as completely as possible. I’ve found it helpful to use bulleted lists for many of these so I can get an abundance of ideas out on paper.


With the questionnaire complete, it’s time to identify who you think your target market is — the people that actually want to buy your product.

For this part, you’ll identify the Top 3 Audiences you believe will be most interested in your product. Here’s an example of an audience filled out:

Audience #1: Snowsport enthusiast

Age range: 25-44

Gender: Male/female

Interests: Atomic Skis, Fischer, Snowboard, Cross-country skiing, Snowboard Magazine, Freeskiing, Transworld Snowboarding, Freeskier Magazine, Backcountry skiing, Ski mountaineering, Alpine skiing, Freestyle skiing or Burton Snowboards

Geographic location: United States

These audiences are going to especially come in handy when we get to the advertising portion of your pre-launch.


With the questions answered and possible audiences identified, you are ready to distill your answers into more focused, usable messaging.

The first section of Value Positioning is to identify your Top 3 Differentiators. Essentially, how is your product WAY better than what already exists? If you don’t have at least one differentiator that is much better than the competition, you probably shouldn’t launch.

The second section of Value Positioning is to identify your Headlines. For this, I like to envision the crowdfunding campaign page, which has both a headline and subheadline for the product. A well written headline and subheadline are able to simply communicate the value of your product.


At this point, you have come up with your initial hypotheses around positioning your product. This includes how you believe you should position the value of your product and whom you should target. Congrats on getting through most people’s least favorite part of the process!

It’s important to note again that your initial product positioning is pure hypothesis. Nailing your product positioning is an iterative process that requires testing. Stay open and get ready for the current positioning to be challenged and changed.

Armed with this information, you are now ready to move on to building the assets you need to start your pre-launch. 

If you want to learn more about CROWDFUNDED, click here to pick up your copy.

And if you’re planning an upcoming crowdfunding project, be sure to watch BackerKit and LaunchBoom discuss pre-campaign do’s and don’ts.