What is Brand Positioning? How Can It Drive Company Growth?
In a market saturated with competing products and consumers exhibiting an overall decline in brand loyalty, how can you distinguish yourself from your competitors and become the first brand that comes to mind in your product category?
Brands with distinctive branding are shown to offer a 31% higher shareholder return, along with increased customer loyalty and an improved image. To create a distinctive brand, the foundation lies in creating a good brand positioning that defines the overall impression your company makes when a consumer considers your product.
Here, we show you how to create an effective brand positioning that will distinguish your brand and drive growth for your company today.
Definition of Brand Positioning
First and foremost, what is brand positioning? As the name suggests, brand positioning is simply the act of creating a position for your brand in the minds of your target consumers.
We often condense this position into one or two sentences, which we call the brand positioning statement, which concisely describes your brand's created identity, and establishes the niche your brand will own in relation to your competitors. This niche may be a product, a product's strength, a social focus, a service, its pricing, its packaging, or any other aspect of the company and its products.
The objective of brand positioning is to create a memorable, credible, and unique 'identity' for your brand. This 'identity' should establish a relationship with your consumers, such as that your consumers may want to identify with this brand identity or that they would want to seek it for the value it may add to their lives.
Importance of brand positioning
Brand positioning is only one aspect within a company's overall brand strategy, but arguably the most important as it creates the foundation for what will set you apart from your competitors in the market.
With a proper brand positioning strategy and statement, your consumers should connect to your brand on a more emotional or personal level, perceive your brand more favourably, and be more likely to remember your brand at the stage of product consideration. Companies should then expect increased brand equity, an improved brand image, increased consumer loyalty, and growth in sales over time.
In the following article, we will show you just how we strategically create the most effective brand positioning for our clients.
Steps in creating brand positioning
To create a compelling and successful brand positioning, there is a necessary sequential process to follow for maximal results:
1. Understanding market trends
The first step includes in-depth research into the current growing industries and trends related to your company or product. If you want to position your brand for long term success, you need to ensure that the ideas and beliefs your company is embodying aren't dependent on a declining trend that may soon phase your brand out with time. For example, using tools such as Google Trends and Google Adwords, we see an increased consumer preference for sustainability-focused brands and a decline in preference for low-cost, trendy, and disposable goods. The awareness of such trends is critical for the longevity of your brand.
2. Understanding one's own attributes and product strengths
Next, an in-depth understanding of your company's own internal strengths and weaknesses, motivations, vision, your product's advantages, emotive benefits, and practical applications is central to creating a brand positioning that can be credible and representative of your brand. Without credibility, your brand positioning will only serve to deter your consumers when it is unable to meet their expectations.
3. Understanding competitor's positioning
Another factor to take into consideration is your competitor's positioning. Where do your competitors stand in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, and emphasis? Do you want to compete directly with their positioning and claim their niche as yours, or do you want to find a new niche void of competition? Your product, as well as a business strategy, should determine your choice.
4. Understanding the target audience's wants and needs
And perhaps most crucial of all is understanding what your target consumers want, need, and desire. Through various research methods such as desktop research, surveys, focus groups, discussion forums, and social listening, for example, you should comprehensively understand what your consumers demand, forecast what they may grow to deem essential and create your brand positioning on this basis.
5. Conceptualizing a distinctive brand positioning statement
Finally, with a thorough understanding of the above factors, you may conceptualize your brand positioning in the form of a couple of 1-2 sentence brand positioning statements. Your statements should be clear, simple, and easy to understand for the average consumer.
6. Test in the market
And finally, to see if your concept is indeed set up for success, a proofing method would be to test your brand positioning statement with your target market. This can be done multiple ways, such as through social media A/B testing, focus groups, surveys, and other research methods we may delve into further in other articles.
With the above approach, your company should be able to strategically create a valuable brand positioning statement that resonates with your target market and sets the foundation for your ensuing brand strategy.
Forms of brand positioning
After defining your brand's positioning, you may then manifest your concept into the following elements of your brand. These elements are texts that may appear on your website, social media, and marketing collaterals, so that you may reinforce your brand positioning statement from numerous angles:
Often displayed on the "About Us" section of your company, your mission defines your company's business, goals and lays out how you intend to achieve the objectives from your brand positioning statement.
Along with your mission, your vision is a statement that describes your company's desired future position in line with your brand positioning statement.
A short, catchy slogan that serves as the punchline to your brand positioning statement, examples of a successful taglines that have carried brands forward are McDonald’s “I'm Lovin’ It”, Red Bull’s “Red Bull gives you wings”, and Adidas’s “Impossible is Nothing”.
Taking the emotive and practical benefits of your brand positioning statement, your value proposition defines how your brand delivers these specific benefits and why consumers should choose your brand.
With the emotive benefits you have defined through your brand positioning statement, you may then create your Brand DNA – a series of short adjectives woven throughout your text that describes the image of your brand the key emotional benefits consumers can drive from your product.
Reason to Believe
Why should your consumers believe the claims in your brand positioning statement? In your Reason to Believe, you can explain your company's points of credibility and why consumers may choose to identify with what your product delivers or achieves.
Unique Selling Proposition
Finally, through your Unique Selling Proposition, you can reiterate what unique benefit your company or product exhibits that allow you and excel over your competitors.
By essentially repeating your brand positioning statement through different elements of your marketing text, consumers will then be more likely to remember your brand and its positioning with the need for your product arises in their minds.
Traits of Successful Brand Positioning
In order to ensure the success and efficacy of your brand positioning, it should adhere to the following traits:
Your positioning should avoid the use of sophisticated vocabulary and concepts that may be hard to understand for the average consumer.
Your positioning should also create a distinctive impression so that consumers will quickly recognize your brand upon the following exposures to it.
Your company should be able to uphold the promises within brand positioning. There is no quicker way to repel consumers than creating inflated expectations that will only be met with disappointment.
Your positioning should represent your company's key attributes, vision, and strengths as modern consumers have grown to be particularly attuned to the authenticity of marketing messages and behind it, its brands as well.
Your positioning should differentiate you from your competitors and set you apart in a saturated market of similar products and brands. It is almost always better to stand out in one niche aspect of your brand than to be average in multiple aspects.
Difficult to Replicate
As your positioning should highlight your company's strengths, it should also be difficult for new or competing brands to replicate your positioning.
Your positioning should show what values your brand shares with your consumers and how you may add an emotive and practical value to their lives. To give some simple examples, a cosmetics brand may allow consumers to feel more confident, and a homeware brand may enable consumers to get better rest so that they have more energy to tackle their day.
The challenge of a good brand positioning statement is that in a mere 1-2 sentences, you can adequately encompass all these traits while clearly stating the value-adding benefits that distinguish you from your competitors.
Example of a successful brand positioning statement
We may see one example of a successful brand positioning statement from one of the world's most profitable companies. Coca-Cola's positioning statement is:
For individuals looking for high-quality beverages, Coca-Cola offers a wide range of the most refreshing options — each creates a positive experience for customers when they enjoy a Coca-Cola brand drink. Unlike other beverage options, Coca-Cola products inspire happiness and make a positive difference in customers' lives, and the brand is intensely focused on the needs of consumers and customers.
Coca-Cola's branding is incredibly effective, consistent, and easily identifiable to the average consumer. And yet over the years, Coca-Cola has actually frequently changed its taglines from "Taste the Feeling" to "Open Happiness" to "Life Tastes Good." But as we can see, though with different wording, each tagline concisely adheres to Coca-Cola's brand positioning statement of "creating a positive experience for customers" by "inspiring happiness" and "focusing on the needs of consumers and customers," creating a cohesive brand that allowed them to grow into one of the world's most popular products today.
Criteria for evaluating a successful brand positioning statement
In evaluating your brand positioning on whether this will be the right fit for you, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it easy to understand?
- Is it memorable?
- Does it ride on ongoing market trends?
- Is it positioned to succeed in the long run?
- Does it distinguish your brand from your competitors?
- Is it hard to replicate?
- Does it identify your company or product's strengths?
- Does it match your current consumers' perceptions of your brand?
- Will your company be able to meet the expectations this positioning creates?
- Does it create an emotional connection with your target consumers?
- Does it show how you can add value to the lives of your consumers?
- Would you be able to keep it consistent throughout all aspects of your brand?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, congratulations, you have laid down the foundation for a successful and fruitful brand strategy!
Ultimately, consumers today are more educated, more perceptive, and more exposed to marketing messages than they were ever before, easily seeing past bland campaigns and unauthentic promises. To stand out in a crowd, companies need more than just a couple of product benefits, they need colourful personalities that make their brand distinctive, genuine, and memorable, and most of all, human. Consumers want to feel that there are people behind the product with a genuine purpose. And so, with the help of a concise brand positioning statement, you will be able to unite your company in a clear purpose, distinguish your brand, and reel in your audience and build strong and loyal relationships with your target consumers.
What did you think about this? We would love to hear your feedback! Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more, please also see our other articles on brand strategy and how we have helped our clients effectively grow their brand!
By Matthew Kinsman