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Executive's Guide to Brand Positioning

Learn what it takes to position a brand in a crowded digital marketplace.

Written By: 

Erick Leon

Updated: 

February 5, 2022

Brand positioning is so much more than how your logo or product design stands out from competitor brands. How your brand is positioned in the market will tell your customers and ideal buyers how well you can meet their needs and will determine how they view you. It also determines who your competitors are in your category. If done right, it will serve as a guide to how much people or businesses will pay for your products or services.


But what is brand positioning exactly?

What is Brand Positioning?

The term "brand positioning" was coined by Jack Trout in 1969 to mean what "advertising does to the product in the prospect’s mind." Since then, its meaning has expanded. Now, brand positioning is about owning a unique position in your target customer's mind and how you present yourself to be what you want your business to be to customers.

A similar definition by Kotler describes brand positioning as "the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”.

As such, brand positioning lies at the core of every brand's marketing strategy. It is the guide for any of the brand's tactical and strategic activities that will help its products or services stand out among its competitors.

an empty box of McDonald's fries

Why Is Brand Positioning So Important?

With 77% of B2B marketing leaders convinced that branding is vital for growth and with 89% of brand marketers focused on creating highly engaging brand customer experiences, it's easy to see why brand positioning is important.

Brand positioning shows your audience what you do. It communicates to the world what you bring to the table and more importantly, why you are different from others who are offering the same thing.

A customer will always weigh the advantages and disadvantages of what you offer before making a purchase. How you position your brand to meet their needs will help them make the decision whether to purchase from you or not.

Evoking Emotion:

Sometimes, competitors may be offering similar products so the differentiation won't come from technical aspects of the product but rather from an emotional connection elicited when buying the product. For instance, a lower price might satisfy a customer more by saving money.

How To Create Strong Brand Positioning, Strong Brand Positioning

Step 1: To create a strong, unique, and effective brand positioning, you need to begin internally and analyze and understand what your customers want, how your competitors are positioning their brands, and what your brand capabilities are.

Step 2: Create a positioning statement that will resonate with your ideal customers, can be delivered by your brand, and is different from your competitors. In order to properly articulate your brand position, consider these:

  • Consumer: Determine features, attributes, special ingredients, product benefits, or deep-seated needs that will serve your customers.
  • Competitors: Paying attention to your competition will help zero in on specific claims that will help you distinguish your brand from theirs.
  • Company: This point focuses on being realistic and can be delivered reliably at every interaction with customers.

Keep it short, simple, and tight so your message can easily be understood and conveyed to your customers. A popular approach to this is by using three unique words to summarize your brand positioning.

Step 3: Once you're done with those two steps, you have to ensure that you reflect this brand positioning in everything that you do including your brand personality, marketing campaign, communications, packaging design, service, etc.

the sole of a sneaker

How To Improve Your Brand Position Over Time

There are many factors that will require a brand to change or improve its brand position. For instance, business goals might change or the needs of target buyers might be changing. In order to keep an effective positioning strategy and continue to have a competitive edge in a crowded market, brands need to be adaptable. Here are some tips:

  • Listen to your customers: In order for your brand position to resonate with your customers, potential customers, or target audience, you need to listen to what they're saying and what their consumer preferences are. Conduct some social listening. Send out surveys, set up focus groups, or talk to them through social media or events and gain insights to improve your message.
  • Refocus your statement: Has your brand lost its focus trying to do so much? If so, you have to get back to the basics and determine if your current brand positioning is still effective.
  • Have a clear vision: Use data and insights to create a clear vision for your brand repositioning or improvement. These will back you up through tough conversations and help you measure success during the process.
  • Test it out: A business decision like a brand repositioning isn't always a sure go. To make sure your new plan works, you have to test it out with your audience. A/B test your control statement against your brand positioning statement and see what works better and how people react.
  • Keep a long-term view: It will take time to change the minds of consumers and revamp the customer perception of what you offer and have them believe in what you offer today rather than previously. Your repositioning may also target new prospective customers so keep in mind that your brand may be entirely new to them. For some brands, this may take years. That's why it's important you consider the investment, marketing, acquisitions, and additional resources you need to make that shift in your positioning.

Conclusion

Brand positioning is the difference between your brand being just a household name or just another company floating through a broad market. Creating a strong brand positioning strategy isn't a one-time event, however. Even after establishing your current positioning, you should always be flexible and willing to keep fine-tuning your positioning concept and statement to ensure the best customer perception and relationships possible.


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