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A Look at Brand Positioning and How It Works

Brand positioning is the unique place that brands occupy in the minds of consumers and, more importantly, those of their target market. Positioning is why people vehemently assert the superiority of their favorite brand of shoes or game console. It’s why they’ll discuss the merits of their preferred automobile at length. And it’s why customers wait in frigid weather to buy the newest gadgets on release day.

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What is a brand position?

First, let’s start with the definition of a brand. In simple terms, a brand is a business’s personality. Brands are developed by how they present themselves, the services and products they offer and their interactions with customers. Meanwhile, brands are also defined by how consumers think and feel about them.

Company positioning encompasses a business’s:

  • Visual identity, including logos, colors and marketing materials
  • Values, including mission statements and goals
  • Consumer experiences, including emotions and associations

Brand positioning, on the other hand, is a brand’s how, where and why. It’s how your business differentiates itself from the competition, where it exists in customers’ minds and why it establishes the position it does. Brand positioning is immensely powerful, but establishing a position requires careful strategizing—and a unique value proposition that clearly distinguishes your brand.

Why brand positioning matters

Brand positioning is all about differentiation. By developing a strategy for occupying a unique position in the hearts and minds of consumers, brands are inherently stronger. A strong brand might be popular and appreciated by its customers, but as a brand, it’s not necessarily well-defined. But a strong, well-positioned brand is popular and appreciated, and it knows exactly what it is. In other words, a well-positioned brand is a confident brand.

A strong brand that consistently communicates its unique value creates strong emotional bonds with its customers. People inherently trust a unique yet easily recognizable identity with strong values. This trust is a considerable competitive advantage.

Your brand’s positioning strategy

As alluded to, a strong brand position isn’t just about branding—it’s about developing a strong positioning strategy. But before you develop and implement one, you need to clarify your business goals.

A good positioning strategy gives a brand direction, but strategy often entails making tough decisions about your brand’s identity and what it provides. As Al Ries, the father of brand positioning, wrote, “when you try to be everything, you wind up being nothing.”

This is where defining your unique value proposition comes in. This is the core of every brand positioning strategy, and it’s what sets that brand apart from the competition. It requires you to ask yourself and provide honest answers to the following questions:

  • What are your brand’s core values?
  • Who are your target customers and what do they want?
  • How do your products or services benefit customers?
  • Do other brands provide these benefits in a way that your brand does?
  • What differentiates your brand from competitors?
  • How does your brand create memorable, lasting experiences with customers?

These are just a few examples. Keep in mind, the more clarity you have about your brand’s unique characteristics, the stronger your positioning strategy is.

Developing and implementing a brand position strategy

Once you have a unique value proposition, you can begin developing a positioning strategy. Keep in mind, developing your brand is a strategy, not a plan. It’s essential to measure the results of your strategy over time and use these results to refine your approach. Markets and consumer opinions evolve, which means an effective positioning strategy is one that also evolves.

Evaluate your brand’s current position

The first step is a careful evaluation of your brand’s current position. This entails an analysis of current and target customers and how they perceive you. It necessitates taking a close look at your reputation, what kind of associations consumers have with you and how well-liked you are in their minds.

Evaluating your position will take some time as it normally requires performing market research and pouring over sales, marketing and service data. Meanwhile, it’s a good opportunity to validate how well your current efforts are aligning with your brand’s mission and values. This can serve as valuable insight into how and where to maintain or improve efforts.

Research your competitors and their position

Knowing your own position doesn’t help much if you don’t also know the spaces your competitors occupy, so you’ll want to look at your competitors with the same analytical lens you examined your own brand with. This means serious competitive research, including a close look at your competitor’s services, products, advertising approach and value statements. Think about the strengths, weaknesses and benefits they provide their customers and how that contributes to their overall brand image.

In discovering this information, you’ll likely identify opportunities you can leverage to enhance your own value proposition and brand position. More importantly, you also gain a broader and deeper understanding of the customers you serve.

Create your brand position statement

Once you’ve determined how and where your brand can best position itself to stand out, the next step is clarifying your strategy in a brand position statement. You can think of this statement as a kind of charter that guides your brand’s future development as well as its marketing efforts. Likewise, it should echo your brand’s overall mission and values. And while it should clearly articulate how your brand is different from all others, it should also be concise and memorable.

Implement your new brand positioning

Implementing a new positioning strategy requires a good amount of strategizing in and of itself. The first step is ensuring everyone in your business knows about the new strategy and what it entails. More importantly, proper buy-in from stakeholders can make or break brand positioning, so it’s essential everyone, from top to bottom, is clear on the reasons for implementing the strategy and the benefits it provides.

Beyond the internal concerns, you’ll probably need to refresh many, if not all, of your brand’s touch points, including:

  • Product and service offerings
  • Visual identity on marketing materials and packaging
  • Websites and social media networks
  • Customer service policies

Developing and implementing a positioning strategy requires considerable time and effort. And achieving the strategy’s stated position takes even longer. However, doing so is the formula that creates fiercely loyal bonds between your brand and your customers.

Position your brand for lasting impact

Whether you’re just starting a business or well-established, if you want devoutly loyal customers, steady business growth and lasting impact, then focus on developing a unique value proposition and sound strategies.


What’s a good brand positioning strategy?

The strongest brand positioning strategy is one that develops and accentuates the brand’s unique characteristics. These characteristics are, by definition, ones that set the brand apart from the competition. They can be defined as an approach to service, the development of products and even pricing. The strategy also entails aligning voice, tone and visual identity to echo brand characteristics and values.

What are the primary influences on brand positioning?

The biggest influence on brand positioning is how well brands execute their strategies as well as how consumers think and feel about the brand and its products and services. Developing a positioning strategy takes these influences into account, balancing them with brand values and business goals.

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