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What is Brand Positioning?

Put simply, 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.

Popularised in Reis and Trout’s bestselling Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, the idea is to identify and attempt to “own” a marketing niche for a brand, product, or service using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The goal is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from the rest of the marketplace. ie: A product or service that has dominated the market to such an extent that task/product or service is now referred to by that brand name.

Ever said any of these phrases?

  • “Just Google it” instead of “Just search for it online”
  • “Do you have a sharpie?” instead of “Do you have a marker?”
  • “I’m looking for a new Hoover” instead of “I’m looking for a new vacuum cleaner” (maybe that’s a bit Amercian?)
  • “Do you have any bluetac?” you get the picture…

Reis and Trout define positioning as “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.”

Brand positioning occurs whether or not a company is proactive in developing a position, however, if management takes an intelligent, forward-looking approach, it can positively influence its brand positioning in the eyes of its target customers.

Positioning Statements versus Taglines

Brand positioning statements are often confused with company taglines or slogans. Positioning statements are for internal use. These statements guide the marketing and operating decisions of your business. A positioning statement helps you make key decisions that affect your customer’s perception of your brand.

A tagline is an external statement used in your marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline, but it is important to distinguish between the two.

7-Step Brand Positioning Strategy Process

In order to create a positioning strategy, you must first identify your brand’s uniqueness and determine what differentiates you from your competition.

There are 7 key steps to effectively clarify your positioning in the marketplace:

  1. Determine how your brand is currently positioning itself
  2. Identify your direct competitors
  3. Understand how each competitor is positioning their brand
  4. Compare your positioning to your competitors to identify your uniqueness
  5. Develop a distinct and value-based positioning idea
  6. Craft a brand positioning statement (see below)
  7. Test the efficacy of your brand positioning statement (see 15 criteria below)

What is a Brand Positioning Statement?

A positioning statement is a one or two sentence declaration that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers in relation to your main competitors.

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore offers one way of formulating a positioning statement: For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (statement of key benefit; also called a compelling reason to believe). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation). However, a more simplified structure for formulating a Brand Positioning Statement is detailed in the following section.

How to Create a Brand Positioning Statement

There are four essential elements of a best-in-class positioning statement:

  1. Target Customer: What is a concise summary of the attitudinal and demographic description of the target group of customers your brand is attempting to appeal to and attract?
  2. Market Definition: What category is your brand competing in and in what context does your brand have relevance to your customers?
  3. Brand Promise: What is the most compelling (emotional/rational) benefit to your target customers that your brand can own relative to your competition?
  4. Reason to Believe: What is the most compelling evidence that your brand delivers on its brand promise?

After thoughtfully answering these four questions, you can craft your positioning statement:

For [target customers], [company name] is the [market definition] that delivers [brand promise] because only [company name] is [reason to believe].

What to know more about your brand or formulating a great strategy? Watch this space. Or contact The Brand Guardian.