We often revert to specific brands when thinking of a product, without giving it a second thought. For example, you use the word Coke to refer to any sweet, carbonated drink - or ask someone to pass you a Kleenex, when it’s really an off-brand tissue. That’s the concept of brand positioning, which refers to the amount of “mental space” a single brand takes up in the consumer’s mind.
When done correctly, implementing a brand positioning strategy can change the way customers perceive your brand. Along with other solid marketing efforts, like creating a logo and website, paying for ads online, or social media marketing, brand positioning remains one of the best ways to influence how your audience sees you.
Here, we’ll cover how you can create a strong brand positioning strategy so that you can leave a lasting impression on your customers.
What is brand positioning?
Simply put, brand positioning is the process of shaping the status of your brand in customers’ minds. Its goal is to ensure that they associate it with the benefits. This is done by putting the spotlight on specific features that make your brand unique, such as the purpose of a product, the price, or exclusivity.
Brand positioning goes above and beyond establishing an authentic brand identity and then building brand identity examples. The goal with positioning is to have your audience associate your brand with certain traits, which can be anything from “tasty” to “affordable and reliable” or even “luxurious”.
When improving your brand’s position, part of the process includes differentiating yourself from direct competitors. This will help your audience think of you as a desirable alternative to your competition. Many brands have a brand positioning statement that outlines what their company does and why they stand out, in order to create a space for it in the minds of consumers.
What makes brand positioning important?
Brands thrive on reputation. While a bad one can stunt your business’s growth, a good reputation will lead to an increase in customers and sales. So, it’s in your best interest to control the narrative surrounding your brand by establishing a set strategy.
As we touched on earlier, the way your brand is positioned has the ability to differentiate it from your competitors. It also goes hand-in-hand with cultivating brand awareness so that it stays relevant to both the market and in your customers’ heads.
When you have a message you want to convey or strengthen, your chances of communicating this to customers will increase with a better brand position. Having clients who are intuitively tuned in to your brand can lead to increased engagement and higher conversion rates.
Types of brand positioning strategies
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to brand positioning, it depends on your business, industry, and target audience. Focus on different aspects of your product or services in order to highlight your brand’s strengths. Here are five popular ways to consider improving your brand’s position:
Quality of service
Highlighting the quality of your company’s customer service is a great way to position your brand. Especially when it is priced higher than your competitors, it’s important that clients know it is justified by the high level of care they receive in return.
Whether your pricing is affordable or high end, the way customers view your pricing model will play a role in how they position your brand. Honing in on a great service that is less expensive than competitors will make you the go-to for audiences on a budget.
On the other hand, many customers prefer brands that are priced higher, because they associate this with quality, luxury and exclusivity.
With this type of brand positioning, you’ll demonstrate why your brand is more convenient than competitors. Whether it’s thanks to your product’s availability, design, or ease-of-use, even if your product is at a higher price point, it’s convenience will make it an attractive option for customers depending on simple solutions.
When customers consider your brand niche, it’s because the product or service your business offers isn’t widely available. Instead of focusing on differentiating yourself from the competition, you can spotlight the fact that you offer something unique, which can’t be found elsewhere.
Problem and solution
Does your product solve a problem that many people have? In that case, position your brand as a powerful solution so that audiences think of it whenever that particular problem arises. One way you can do this through marketing is to address customers’ pain points and proving that you offer an immediate and actionable solution.
7 Steps to creating a brand positioning strategy
Making an effective brand positioning strategy is a process that needs to be carefully mapped out. Here are seven essential steps to making this happen:
01. Assess your current brand positioning
You can’t know where to begin unless you know where you already stand. Unless you’re a new brand waiting to launch, you already hold a position in the market. Your first challenge is to figure out what that is.
In order to do this, take a look at your existing customers and try and get a better understanding of who they are. Do they match your target market? What products or services do they like best? How do they interact with your brand and what do they think about your brand image?
If according to your clients, your brand position is not where you want it to be, it’s a good time to review your brand voice, company goals and mission statement. And of course, the products or services you are offering.
02. Identify and research your competitors
Next, you want to pinpoint exactly who your competitors are and find those who are the most similar to your brand, share the same vision, or target the same audience.
Once you’ve identified them, it’s time to do a deep-dive into market research. Assessing your competitor’s strategy involves looking at what customers say about them, learning from their marketing tactics, and paying attention to how they behave on social networks. Another healthy strategy for researching how you compare to competitors is a SWOT analysis. This process will help you see where your brand shines and where it falls short.
Discovering a gap in the market that your brand is ready to fill and understanding how your clients perceive your competition is a key step towards formulating your own successful brand positioning strategy.
03. Compare your positioning to your competition
Now that you’ve painted a picture of what your competitors are offering, start to compare your brand with theirs. Take what you’ve learned about other brands in your industry, the target audience, and the market in general, and use it to write a brand positioning statement (or improve your current one).
After understanding your competitors’ brand position in the market, you can figure out where your brand fits in. Next, think about what your strategy should be moving forward. Can you replace your competition in terms of your business’s cost or level of convenience? Or should you focus on a type or brand positioning that your competitors can’t match, like the quality of your customer service?
04. Pinpoint what makes your brand unique
Something that your competitor isn’t great at might be exactly where you excel. For example, you might offer a product priced higher than your competition, but you know that your outstanding customer service team is something that other businesses in your industry lack. This is where you can position your brand to fill a hole in the market.
In a perfect scenario, your brand will hit all the right points. Meaning, you’ll be able to position yourself as the more affordable product that also offers the highest quality, best service and most convenient solution. In reality, that most likely isn’t the case. It’s best to focus on one or two areas where your brand stands out. As your positioning strategy improves, then you can begin to integrate additional strategies to take your brand to the top.
05. Create a brand positioning statement
Your brand’s positioning statement is a necessary document that cements your intentions and goals throughout the process.
There are a few critical points to remember when creating your brand positioning statement. Answering these questions will help ensure you touch on all of them:
Who is my target audience? When writing your positioning statement, try and place yourself in the customer's shoes. Use language they would be familiar with and think about what they want to hear.
What is my unique position in the market? Take a look at your competition and make sure you can articulate in a concise way how your brand is superior.
What’s the greatest benefit of my brand? No need to be modest here. Note exactly what the best thing is about your product or service and continuously highlight this to your customers.
How can I prove that benefit? Once you’ve shone a light on your brand’s advantages, be sure you can deliver. Whether it’s offering a guarantee or using statistics to back up your claim, prove what you say about your brand is true.
Your brand positioning statement should address the main questions anticipated by potential customers in a clear, concise and engaging way. Here’s an example of Amazon’s brand positioning statement:
“For consumers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery, Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site. Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence”.
6. Implement your new brand positioning
Like any type of marketing plan, your brand positioning strategy needs strong implementation in order to succeed. In order to do this, you should ensure that all methods of communication with your clients reflect your brand’s position statement. You might start by sharing your positioning statement with employees, stakeholders, and even clients. In the long term this may lead you to reevaluate the messaging, tone, and voice that you use on other marketing materials, or on social channels. If it no longer aligns with your new positioning, then it’s time to adjust it.
7. Evaluate your statement and measure success
Finally, the last step is going over your statement after implementation and seeing if it’s successful. Take a look at the four following areas of your branding and see if your status has improved:
Visibility: Does your audience identify your products or brand better than they used to? Listen to what clients are saying in reviews or on social media to gauge if they find your brand more relevant.
Uniqueness: One of your goals of brand positioning was to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Now that you’ve revealed your new positioning, have you accomplished this?
Ask your customers: You can conduct surveys to see how effective your strategy was. Ask if they’ve noticed any changes or differences in your marketing campaigns or overall branding, or if their thoughts or feelings towards your brand have changed in either direction over time.
Measure marketing campaigns: Since your brand positioning strategy should influence your marketing campaigns, you’ll want to measure growth. Do you notice more conversions, higher sales, and an increased rate of engagement after implementation? If not, something in your positioning strategy isn’t resonating with your clients.