What is Brand Positioning? A Complete Guide for Marketing Professionals
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What comes to your mind when you think of having a nice cup of coffee before you begin your day? If you are in the UK, you’re more likely to think of Costa Coffee than someone in the US, whose choice is more likely than Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee brand. Whenever the brands Starbucks and Costa Coffee come to mind, it shows the power of brand positioning in marketing.
Brand positioning focuses on putting your brand on top of your competitors, making it a go-to choice for people when they think of getting products in your niche. A brand goes beyond just the name, logo, tagline, or color palettes. It is the interaction and experiences your potential customers have with your brand. Based on these interactions and experiences, they can view your brand as their ultimate solution or a no-go area.
If you are looking for a more precise explanation of what brand positioning entails, think of how iPhone comes to mind when people think of smartphones, how Nike comes to mind when people think of running shoes, or how people think of Coca-Cola for refreshing beverages.
Brand positioning is a crucial strategy that can help determine how people will interact with your brand and how they pay for your products or services. If you miss enhancing your brand value and position it as a pro in the industry, your brand can get lost in the crowd and lose its value.
To help you get this right, we have created this complete guide to help you understand what brand position entails, how to develop a successful brand positioning strategy, create a perfect brand positioning statement, and, importantly, give you a framework to create a successful brand in your market.
Keep reading to learn all this.
What is Brand Positioning?
Brand positioning is the process of planning your brand in the minds of your target audience and making them choose your brand over your competition. It is an important strategy that brand strategists use to create a positive perception of their brand. A good brand positioning strategy informs your customers about what your product or service offers and positions it as the right choice based on its price, value, benefits, and problems it solves.
First in 1969, by Jack Trout, brand positioning was initially introduced to represent “what advertising does to the product in the prospect’s mind. “Although it’s been over 50 years since the term “brand positioning” was introduced to the marketing field, marketers still continue to follow the term and principles to create the foundation of their brand strategy.
As marketing advanced, brand positioning transcended advertising and became a household name in the branding industry. You achieve brand positioning when your brand is perceived as valuable, favorable, and credible to the customers. It is when people consider your brand, product, or services unique and make a place for it in their mind, so much so that they are unwilling to choose other products or brands over yours.
What is the Goal of Brand Positioning?
Marketing experts describe brand positioning as a strategy like finding your place on the supermarket shelf. Its goal is simple: to make your customers think of you whenever they think of buying a product or service in your niche.
You need a brand positioning statement to verbalize and create your brand package guide. A brand package helps the design team create assets that communicate a coherent message across all your business marketing touchpoints, from logo to website, social media channels, flyers/posters, product packaging, and billboards.
Why is Brand Positioning Important?
According to qualtrics, brand positioning involves owning a unique position in the target customer’s mind. It goes beyond just making your product, service, or brand different from your competitors; you must show its uniqueness to your customers and engrave your brand in their minds.
Since every company commits to building its brand awareness and popularity to gain the attention of its customers and help them grow, you might as well create a brand positioning strategy that helps you control and manage your reputation and brand image, just as Nike developed its products and worked over the years to build its brand image and reputation as a trustworthy and humane running shoe and fitness clothing brand.
This helped Nike position itself as a household go-to brand for running shoes. Aside from helping a company differentiate from its competitors, a well-defined brand positioning strategy helps a brand boost its brand awareness, communicate its value and justify its pricing.
It also increases the strength of the business. Based on your brand’s positioning to meet your customer’s needs, your customers can weigh the perceived advantages of your business and assess your ability to meet their needs before making a purchase. Importantly, brand positioning helps to evoke your audience’s emotions.
Since customer preference doesn’t come from the technical features of your business but from their emotional connection with your brand, you must ensure that your brand positioning strategy seeks to gain their trust rather than just showcasing your business benefits. For example, when your customers trust your brand more, they will likely choose you repeatedly due to the emotion attached to it.
Brand Positioning Map
According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), a brand positioning map is the visual plotting of specific brands against axis, where each axis represents an attribute that drives brand selection. It helps you see how your brand compares to others in customer’s perception. It mainly consists of attributes that are relevant to your target audience.
Marketing experts recommend having multiple versions of the map based on different sets of attributes. By placing your brand and your competitors on your map, you will see who’s more competitive than others. These attributes will be gotten directly from the values that customers believe in. Since brand loyalty is built based on maintaining shared values with consumers, you have to put effort into improving the quality and reliability of your customer interactions.
Types of Brand Positioning
You can choose many options when determining your brand’s position in the market. When handling brand positioning, you must ensure that you tailor your strategy to highlight your unique selling point and product’s competitive advantage in a way that points out the weaknesses of your competition.
Below are the common types of brand positioning strategies that you can use to highlight your brand differentiation.
1. Convenience-Based Positioning strategy
Convenience-based positioning strategy highlights how using your company’s product or service is more convenient than using your competitors’ products. This can be in terms of location, ease of use, broad accessibility, multiple platforms, and the product’s design.
An excellent example of a brand using a convenient strategy is Uber. Uber revolutionized the transport landscape by making booking taxis faster, more seamless, and more convenient. With the app, you can easily order a ride, determine the pricing ahead and put security measures that provide users with basic information about the drivers. This strategy attracts customers and sells services conveniently to them.
2. Customer service positioning strategy
Customer service positioning strategy highlights their friendly and helpful customer service to their customers against their competition. If you have chosen a brand or considered buying from them because of their excellent customer service, you would understand customer service’s critical role in sales and customer relationship management. You should keep the communication through customer support upright. That’s why it’s essential to have a virtual call center for the process.
This brand positioning strategy provides an easy and seamless way for businesses with complicated products or overly saturated markets to highlight their robust support systems to attract new customers. The significant benefit of this strategy is that it helps you showcase your brand’s customer service when you have a high price.
A good example of a brand using this strategy is Apple. Apple is a premium brand with different types of products that are pricey than other products in the market. However, users pick it over any other products in the market because of its friendly and incredible customer support.
3. Quality-Based Positioning Strategy
This strategy highlights the quality of the product or service in their marketing strategies. Instead of trying to show how your product differs from your competitors, you emphasize on the quality of your product or service. Most businesses focus on building high-quality products by using high-grade materials, exceptional craftsmanship, and sustainable practices to justify their high price.
Apple also uses this strategy to justify its high prices. Although many tech production companies, such as Samsung, Huawei, etc., are in the market, Apple comes first for many due to its sleek, unique designs and uncompromisable security. Alternatively, businesses can showcase their product quality by showing evidence of their fabulous results and exceptional customer testimonials.
Although this strategy might not work for everyone, especially people who would overlook these quality features for a cheaper alternative. It is a relatively effective strategy that can help you gain loyal customers, eventually increasing your customer base.
4. Price-Based Positioning Strategy
Businesses and marketers use the price-based positioning strategy to present their product or service as the most affordable product in the market. This strategy helps you gain a larger market share and customer base because most people naturally don’t want to spend more than they need to when buying a specific product or service.
Naturally, offering the lowest prices for a product helps you quickly gain the attention of many new customers. However, remember that as effective and quick as this strategy is, it can affect your business in the long run. Firstly, offering the lowest price gives the impression of low quality, so your customers could choose you because of their financial condition. When they are more stable financially, they could go for products that are expensive.
As a result, you could build a base of disloyal customers, who are likely to switch to other brands when they get better offers.
5. Social Media Positioning Strategy
This brand positioning leverages different social media channels for its marketing purposes. Due to the power of social media in contemporary marketing practices, marketers using this strategy use social media channels that their customers use the most compared to showing across multiple channels. The factors to consider when using social media platform for your brand strategies includes the following:
- Where your target audience spends most of their time?
- Where your target audience spends their money?
- Where your target audience goes to find information and advice?
Based on the social media platforms they use for all the above listed, you can choose the social media channel and provide all the information they need.
6. Differentiation positioning strategy
A differentiation positioning strategy highlights a product’s uniqueness or innovative features compared to its competition. This strategy is excellent for consumers who value innovation and uniqueness. A good example of a brand in this category is Tesla. Even though many vehicle brands like Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes, etc., have existed in the market for many years, Tesla came with its innovative products – fully automated, self-driving cars and AI robots- making it the first of its kind but an innovative brand.
Although there is a high chance of facing resistance from the people, there is still a good chance that you will build a loyal customer base since people love exploring and using new products.
7. Other Positioning Strategy
There are many more brand positioning strategies than the above-mentioned ones. Based on your product or services and your current goals, you can either position your brand as a leader in the market, a famous brand, or a thought leader. Alternatively, you can compare your brand to your competitors directly. This way, you call out your competition in your campaign and highlight your product’s advantages over theirs.
Irrespective of the campaign you choose, consider your target market, competitors, and demands to determine what would work best for them.
What is a Brand Positioning Statement?
A brand positioning statement is a detailed summary of what your company does, who can benefit from your product or service and how you are different from your competition. The essential purpose of a positioning statement is to convey a brand’s value proposition to its ideal customers and help you create a unique niche for your brand in the minds of your consumers.
A well-crafted brand positioning statement is a short, clear, and succinct description that accurately answers the following questions:
- Who is your brand for?
- What is your product or service category?
- What benefits does your brand provide?
- How do you prove those benefits?
Although it is slightly similar to a mission statement, there is still a significant difference between both. Importantly, your brand positioning statement is a goal plan you share with your team. It lays the foundation of your brand and influences how you and your organization interact with your customers.
However, your mission statement is an action-based statement that clarifies a brand’s purpose and what it plans to do for its customers. Unlike brand positioning, the mission statement is shared with the general public and can be found on the website, whereas your brand positioning is only meant for internal purposes.
How to Develop a Strong Brand Positioning Statement?
Below are six important steps to follow when writing brand positioning statements:
Step 1: Provide answers to some crucial questions about your brand
The first step to creating strong brand positioning statements is to find answers to critical questions about your brand. These questions include the following:
- What sets your business apart from the competition?
- What are your company’s mission and values?
- What is your brand identity (e.g., voice, image)?
- Who are the specific customers you’re targeting? and
- What do they want to achieve using your product or service?
Brand and marketing experts recommend critically researching the current market trends, understanding the target audiences’ painpoints, and how your product or service can be a perfect solution for their problems.
Step 2: Analyze your competition to determine their strength and weaknesses
The next step is to analyze your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses by analyzing their social media profiles, website, and reviews about their company on third-party sites and by monitoring their ads.
This helps you understand what they do and how you can stand out from them. This will help you to define your brand positioning statements.
Step 3: Use the brand positioning map
As explained above, a brand positioning map helps you see your brand’s performance against competitors. You can plot your competitors according to the criteria that drive brand selection on the two-dimensional charts. Remember that these criteria vary from brand to brand, such as price, quality, value, or industry.
Step 4: Define your brand features, advantages, and benefits
The next step after using the brand map is to clearly define the core parts of your brand positioning statement – features, advantages, and benefits. Once you can define these core areas, you can help your target customers understand what they gain by choosing your brand over your competition.
An easy way to define this is using the following formulas:
- Feature – is pretty easy; it refers to the elements or characteristics of your brand. In simpler terms, it’s what your product or servcie offers.
- Advantage– is what your feature does and how it helps your customers.
- Benefits – is the value your customers obtain by using your services.
Step 5: Start writing your statement
This crucial step is to write the actual brand positioning statement. You combine your information and resources to create something unique for your brand. If you are looking for a bit of inspiration, here’s a sample from Superside:
“[Your brand name] is/delivers [the core benefit that separates your business from the rest] for [your target customer/market] because [why they should believe you].”
Step 6: Get Feedback
Once you have crafted your brand positioning statement, review it from the first step and test your statement with potential customers. This will help you know whether you have covered the core areas.
How to Create a Brand Positioning Strategy?
A critical element of creating your brand positioning strategy is understanding your brand and discovering what’s unique to your brand. Below are the steps to take to create strong brand positioning strategies.
1. Determine your current brand positioning
What’s your current brand positioning? How are you currently marketing your product or service in the market? Is it a unique product or just another item in the market?
Answering the above questions can provide essential insights into your current brand position in the market. When you understand your current position, you can better analyze your competition and understand and define your target audience. Next, identify your mission, vision, values, and what differentiates you from your competitors.
2. Identify your competition
Competitors are essential to understand the market better and assessing your business success. You need to understand who they are, what they are doing, and what makes them different from you to develop your own brand positioning strategy. To determine this, conduct competitor analysis, analyze their social media platforms and keep tabs on their existing and cancelled customers’ feedback.
3. Create a brand essence chart
A brand essence chart helps you organize your thoughts and ideas to make it clear and concise. It also helps you to communicate your ideas well and can be used to develop copywriting and design ideas. It comprises seven crucial components – Attributes, Benefits, Personality, Source of Authority and Support, What Your Brand Says About Your Customers, How Your Brand Make Your Customers Feel, and Positioning/Essence.
4. Conduct Competitor’s Research
Once you have determined your competitors, you need to delve into in-depth competitor research. You must also analyze how your competition is positioning its brand to compete. Your competitor research should include the following:
- What products or services do your competitors offer?
- What are their price points?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What marketing strategies are they using successfully?
- What is their position in the current market?
5. Identify your unique value proposition
A unique value proposition or unique selling proposition is a statement that expresses your product or service’s distinct selling points to potential customers. The key to building a unique brand is identifying what makes your brand different and what works best for your business. After conducting your competitor research, there is a high chance that you will find similarities or differences between your brand and your competitor’s. You can track this to determine your unique value proposition.
6. Build a brand positioning framework
A brand positioning framework enables you to find the right place for your brand in the marketplace and your customer’s minds. Below are the steps to take to create a brand positioning framework.
- Big Idea
- Value proposition
- Target audience
- Mission statement
- Tone of voice
- Elevator pitch
- Message pillars
- Sample Touchpoints
7. Create your brand positioning statement
The Cult Branding Company defines a brand positioning statement as a one or two-sentence disclosure that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers about your main competitors. Once you have enough information about your target audience, your product or service category, the most significant benefit of your product or service, and the proof of the benefit, you can move on to refine your own brand positioning statement
8. Work on your product development and team management
Once you have created your brand positioning statement, the following steps are to create value in your product or services, establish an emotional connection with your customers, reinforce your brand-differentiating qualities during the sales process, and significantly ensure that your customer-facing employees embody the core values of your brand.
10 Excellent Brand Positioning Examples
Below are ten excellent examples of brands with the most successful brand positioning:
Coca-cola’s brand positioning is built around providing positive, uplifting experiences to customers through its products. Over the years, it has connected with people’s emotions and given them long-lasting memories and positive experience.
Nike’s “Just Do It” brand message enables it to position itself as an empowering brand that helps individuals achieve their full potential through sports and physical activity.
Apple’s brand positioning is simple. It is a brand built on innovation, simplicity, and elegance.
McDonald’s is a globally recognized fast-food chain popularly known for its burgers, fries, and other fast food. It positions itself as a brand that provides “good food fast.”
Pepsi is a youthful, energetic, exciting, and fun brand. This explains why the brand always features celebrities, music, and pop culture to appeal to young, trendy, and active audiences.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), like McDonald’s, is another global fast-food restaurant chain that specializes in making fried chicken. It is a traditional brand with a signature original 11 herbs and spices recipe.
Samsung positions itself as a leader in innovation, technology, and design. Over the years, it has shown itself as a brand providing high-performance, quality, and affordable products.
Mercedes-Benz positions itself as a brand that provides luxury, innovation, and engineering excellence.
Starbucks is globally recognized as a premium coffee provider that has positioned itself as a brand that provides unique and excellent coffee experience for its customers.
Amazon is an American multinational technology company that has positioned itself as the Earth’s most customer-centric brand.
Creating a solid brand positioning makes all the difference when creating a new brand or entering a new market. It helps you gain your customers’ attention and place your brand in your customer’s minds. We have provided the above brand positioning strategies and frameworks to successfully place your brand in the top spot in the market.