Brand Positioning Strategy Simplified
Brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers.
Brand positioning is also referred to as a positioning strategy, brand strategy, or a brand positioning statement.
Reis and Trout’s bestselling book titled Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, suggests the goal for brand positioning is to identify and “lead” a specific marketing niche for your brand, product, or service.
The objective is to carve out an impression in your client/customer’s mind so that they associate something unique and desirable to your brand that stands out from rest of the marketplace.
In the words of Reis and Trout “brand positioning is an organised system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.”
Taglines Vs Positioning Statements
Brand positioning statements can quite often be confused with company tag-lines.
A tagline is simply an external statement used in your marketing activities. Whereas a brand positioning statement is for a company’s internal use.
Positioning statements not only guide your marketing activities, they also support your brand and operating decisions of your business.
Overall, positioning statements help you make key decisions that ultimately affects your client’s/customer’s perception of your brand. (see below for examples of both)
Brand Positioning Strategy Process Simplified
To develop a positioning strategy, you must first identify your brand’s uniqueness and discover what separates you from your competitors.
There are 7 key steps to defining a brand strategy in your marketplace:
1. Unpack and analyse how your brand is currently positioning itself in the market
2. Research and identify your direct competitors
3. Analyse and interpret how each of your direct competitors are positioning their brand
4. Create a Comparison list of your brand positioning to your competitors to identify your uniqueness against theirs
5. Put together a distinct and value-based positioning concept
6. Draft and craft your brand positioning statement (see below for examples)
7. Test the effectiveness of your brand positioning statement (see criteria below for examples)
What is a Brand Positioning Statement?
A brand positioning statement is a one or two sentence message that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers that separates you from your key competitors.
How to Create a Powerful Brand Positioning Statement
Geoffrey Moore’s International Bestseller Crossing the Chasm provides a simple formula for creating a positioning statement: For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (reason to believe).
There are four key elements of a brand positioning statement:
1. Target Customer: Who will play with you? What slice of the population is the most motivated by what your brand offers? Do not just think about who you want, but rather who wants your brand.
2. Market Definition: Where will you play? What is the competitive set that defines the space in the market your brand competes in? Positioning is always relative to who you compete against. For instance, a brand is never fast, it is faster.
3. Brand Promise: Where will you win? What is the main promise you will make to the consumer target, that will make your brand stand out as interesting, simple, unique, motivating and own-able? Do not talk about what you do (features). Talk about what the consumer gets (functional benefits), and how the brand makes them feel (emotional benefits).
4. Reason to Believe: Why should they believe us? Understand what support points and features are needed to back up the main promise. These support points should close any potential doubts, questions or concerns the consumer has after hearing the main promise.
Once you have answered these four key questions thoroughly, you now can craft your positioning statement using this simple method:
For [target customers], [company name] is the [market definition] that delivers [brand promise] because only [company name] is [reason to believe].
Two great examples of effective Positioning Statements
Nike.com – “For serious athletes, Nike gives confidence that provides the perfect shoe for every sport”.
This positioning statement from Nike is simple, direct, and tangible. It speaks to their target audience in a clear and concise manner.
Apple.com – “It’s not about pop culture, it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. We just want to make great products.” Steve Jobs
This positioning statement by former CEO Steve Jobs really gives you an idea of what a great positioning statement is supposed to be — emotional, yet tangible.
Once you have developed a powerful brand positioning statement you now can create a tagline that helps establish the position in the market niche you’re looking to dominate. Here are 10 examples:
10 Effective Tag-lines Examples
Mercedes-Benz: Engineered like no other car in the world
BMW: The ultimate driving machine
L’Oreal: Because you’re worth it.
Nike: Just do it
Apple: Think Different
Coca-Cola: Taste the feeling
Target: Expect more. Pay less.
Volvo: For life.
B1G1: Business for good
Sony: Make. Believe.
Criteria for Evaluating Your Brand Positioning Effectiveness
A simple and well-crafted positioning statement is a powerful tool for bringing focus and clarity to your marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, and promotional tactics. If used properly, this statement can help you make effective decisions to help differentiate your brand, attract your target customers, and win market share from your competition.
Ask yourself the following key questions:
Does it differentiate your brand from your competitors?
Does it match customer perceptions of your brand?
Does it enable growth?
Does it identify your brand’s unique value to your clients/customers?
Is it focused on your core customers?
Is it memorable and motivating?
Is it consistent in all areas of your business?
Is it easy to understand?
Is it positioned for long-term success?
Is it believable?
The sad truth is that no marketer has the power to position anything in the customer’s mind, which is the core promise of positioning which sort of doesn’t make sense does it.
Each of your clients/customers has their own idea of what or who you are. You cannot change that, it just is. Therefore, brand positioning is not something you do, it is the result of your customer’s perception of what you do or who you are.
To position your brand in your customer’s mind, you must first start from within your business.
Every member of your organisation that touches the customer has to be the perfect expression of your position. And, since everyone touches the customer in some way, everyone should be the best expression of your position.
I’d suggest you put up everything that represents your brand on a wall. Then list all your brand’s touch points—every point of interaction with your customer. Then critically and intuitively ask yourself questions like:
How can I communicate my brand’s position to my audience?
At every touch point, does my brand look, say, and feel like the brand I want my customers to perceive?
Sadly, many marketers don’t have the clarity and focus of following through on their words.
Without complete certainty, you default back to status quo.
Turn everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you can create something unique and special. This takes courage; to actively position your brand means you have to stand for something bigger yourself.
Only then are you truly on your way to owning your very own position in the mind of your customer, and your marketplace.