How to Position a Brand
Positioning your brand sets the tone for how customers connect. Our guide will show you how to stand out from the crowd and establish your unique value.
March 13, 2023
Are you struggling to gain market share? Are you looking for a way to differentiate your company from the competition?
Whether you are a startup or an established business, a strong brand positioning strategy can have a profound impact on your organization’s performance in the marketplace.
But what is positioning, really? And how do you develop a positioning strategy that will help you achieve your business goals?
In this post, I’ll explain the details of the process, why it is so important, and how to build effective brand positioning.
What Is Brand Positioning?
Competition in every niche is tremendous. As a result, companies struggle to differentiate. Yet that’s exactly what they must do to increase market share and profit.
The solution is a brand positioning strategy. A positioning strategy is a plan that helps an organization influence the consumer’s perception of them.
Using a positioning strategy doesn’t guarantee potential customers will see your brand the way you hope they do. But it will improve the results from marketing tactics such as social media awareness and advertising campaigns.
Brand positioning is key for companies that want to gain mindshare.
Positioning is about making a lasting impression. To make that impression, you must craft an identity that aligns with the consumer’s expectations. For example, an audience that buys higher-priced products expects the brand that sells those products to possess specific qualities. So, if you want to build a premium brand position, you must incorporate the brand elements of a premium brand into your business’s identity and communication.
Given the complexity of positioning, we should look at the process in its entirety. All components work together to build your company’s position in the marketplace. However, many businesses overlook some of those components, which is why many of them struggle to create real differentiation.
Types of Brand Positioning Strategies
In this section, I’ll outline four of the most common brand positioning strategies.
Convenience-Based Positioning Strategy
Studies show that over 70 percent of consumers will pay more if a product or service is easy to purchase or readily available.
A convenience-based positioning strategy leverages the power of ease, accessibility, and usability to create differentiation—the brand’s product or service makes the customer’s life easier.
For example, a business’s return policies might be simple and user-friendly, with no complicated forms or restrictions. The company may also offer free shipping and local delivery options to entice customers. This might make finding, ordering, and receiving products easier than ever. These small but powerful incentives can attract lots of new customers.
Businesses can solicit feedback from customers to help them identify ways to deliver convenience or better solutions that cater to each customer’s preferences.
Price-Based Positioning Strategy
We often consider price to be the primary factor in the buying decision. There are several ways to price products and services to become more competitive while maximizing profit. The pricing strategy you select will depend on your industry, target market, and competitive landscape.
Here are a few pricing strategies:
Penetration pricing is a strategy designed to capture attention with a previously unseen value proposition. By offering significantly lower prices, companies increase the visibility of the product and invite new customers to try it.
The result? Increased market share. Best of all, penetration pricing can generate organic word-of-mouth marketing that reduces marketing dollars spent on advertising campaigns.
Skimming sets the bar high, beginning with an initial premium price that allows the brand to make profit while catering to customers who will pay top dollar. Over time, stages of price reductions capture the remaining price-sensitive segments.
However, this approach is best used early, as competitors usually follow suit and make similar offers. So, long-term success with this strategy requires companies to evaluate pricing regularly and anticipate changes in market demand.
Price matching is a popular strategy for retailers. Customers have an in-depth understanding of what they are going to purchase, and price sensitivity is high. So, brands can advertise special offers and promotions.
Price matching empowers the customer and gives them the assurance they need when looking for the best deal.
Niche marketing is the practice of targeting a smaller demographic and tailoring marketing messages to their specific needs and interests. Defining an ideal buyer persona for each market segment helps businesses craft powerful messages and deliver them on the channels the audience uses.
To define each market segment, use details such as age, gender, geographic location, and lifestyle. Then, determine how they consume media (i.e., social media, television) and focus on those channels.
Finally, create content designed specifically for each niche segment. For example, include stories about how your product or service helped someone else in a similar situation. Incorporate visuals as well. By delivering this type of tailored message outreach, you become more credible and authoritative in the audience’s eyes because you can provide exactly what they need. This expands your brand’s reach and awareness within the smaller circle of potential customers you want.
Premium Brand Positioning
Premium brand positioning focuses on creating an emotional and practical connection with consumers. These connections must be strong enough to influence them to choose a higher-priced product over its lower-cost competitors.
By understanding the needs and aspirations of the customer, premium brands can position their products as something more than just another consumer item. The most successful premium brands craft a story that makes them more appealing and connects with the ideal customer.
The challenge is to develop a narrative while avoiding the “same-ness” found in other premium offers. This means standing out through unique, superior quality and design, or by providing customers with special, personalized experiences that go above-and-beyond the norm.
Brands that can build a premium brand position attain an elevated status that justifies their higher prices. As a result, customers will pay more for them.
How to Create a Brand Positioning Strategy
Creating a brand positioning strategy requires an analysis of your target market, niche, competition, and unique selling points.
In the sections that follow, I’ll break each component of the strategy, regardless of which one you choose to use.
A segmented target audience is an essential part of an effective and profitable marketing campaign. A successful strategy starts by understanding who your ideal customer is, what problem they face, and how your product or service could benefit them.
Once you have identified the target customer profile, create a segmentation model that classifies the unique characteristics of each individual. Commonly used categories for segmentation include demographic factors such as age, gender or occupation, geographic factors such as city or country, socio-economic factors such as income levels and consumption habits, psychographic factors such as lifestyle or values, and behavioral patterns like loyalty or shopping frequency.
Once you have segmented your audience into smaller groups, you can customize your messages and content to match the needs of each segment. Brands can craft personalized messages, which can increase engagement and conversion rates.
With accurate segmentation, companies can identify their most profitable customer segments. This enables them to zero-in on potential prospects with relevant campaigns that present just the right message at the right time.
The Benefits of Using Customer Segmentation Models in Your Marketing Strategy
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Define Your Brand's Functional and Emotional Benefits
Functional benefits describe how a product works, and the tangible advantages it offers. Emotional benefits relate to how customers feel when using the product or service.
For example, a car gets someone from point A to point B. That is the functional benefit of a car. But a car can also make a person feel safer when they travel. Safety is an emotional benefit.
Functional benefits are simple practical qualities that make a product or service attractive to consumers. They use these benefits to evaluate a product based on its features, performance, and functional value. Examples of functional benefits include longer battery life, faster speed, better sound quality, durability, and lighter weight.
Emotional benefits focus on how customers feel after experiencing the product or service. This could include feelings of trustworthiness, fun, and relaxation. Emotional benefits are often more powerful than functional ones because they enhance a brand’s uniqueness. For instance, some people believe they get a distinct feeling when driving a BMW that they don’t get driving other car brands. So, while a BMW offers many of the same functional benefits as other cars, the emotional benefits set the brand apart.
You must leverage both functional and emotional product benefits to build a strong brand position. Using facts and concrete evidence to promote a product through its functional features is extremely important. But it is just as critical to communicate how people will feel when they use it.
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It is essential to identify relevant competitors when positioning your brand. To get a sense of who you are going against, ask your sales team or do a search using industry-related keywords. This will give you a list of potential companies to research.
Analyze each competitor to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Look into their marketing efforts, mission statements, and consider their online presence. Knowing the competition allows you to create more effective messaging for your brand.
Read through competitor reviews to assess customer perception of each. Reviews can provide insights that help you create differentiation.
Market size is another competitive factor. Look at which markets are growing or in decline. This can help you make smarter decisions about where to focus your energy and resources.
Research customer buying behavior. Also review competitors’ promotions, discounts, and sponsorships on media platforms. Study everything you can about your competitors to find out what matters most to customers in your industry and what your rivals are doing right (and wrong).
Monitor competitor activities to stay one step ahead. Watch for new announcements, changes in product lines or pricing models.
Your competitive analysis should provide a clear picture of both current and potential rivals. You can then develop an informed positioning strategy specific to your business objectives.
Monitoring trends can prevent losses and enable you to find opportunities. This allows businesses to be proactive and adjust quickly to marketplace conditions rather than being forced to react.
Brand Positioning Statement vs. Unique Selling Proposition
A brand positioning statement defines how your business sets itself apart from the competition. It captures how your target audience and competitors should view your brand.
A unique selling proposition (USP) focuses on the benefits customers get from using your product or service. It communicates what customers can expect from your product—be it a functional, emotional, or even a self-expressive benefit.
A positioning statement and USP should support each other. So, it is vital that both are in sync, either the positioning statement guiding the USP or vice versa. This approach sets clear expectations for customers.
Writing a Brand Positioning Statement
Writing a brand positioning statement requires you to harness the power of storytelling. It should capture the essence of your brand, while also conveying its unique value. A strong brand positioning statement can increase customer engagement, provide clarity for internal development, and shape an effective marketing strategy.
To write your brand positioning statement, consider these steps:
1. Define Your Audience: Determine who you want to speak to through this statement. Think about who might benefit from your product or service the most and make sure your language aligns with their vernacular.
2. Get to Know Your Competition: Evaluate the market and identify which brands (if any) offer a similar product or service. What sets you apart from them? Leverage differentiators at every opportunity throughout your statement.
3. Establish Goals for the Future: What do you want from this statement? What are the 3-5 key points you would like customers to remember after reading it?
4. Draft Your Statement: Keep the statement simple, clear, and concise by using direct language that reflects your intended message without embellishment or flowery prose. Avoid complex sentences or jargon that could obscure its meaning and communicate only as much information as necessary. Don’t forget to review all content for accuracy before presenting it publicly.
5. Re-evaluate as Needed: Monitor how customers respond after you release the statement and evaluate how they are engaging with content. Make adjustments as needed.
Craft Your Unique Selling Proposition
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement that promotes the competitive advantage your business offers. This could include products, services, and customer experiences.
Creating a USP isn’t always easy, but there are steps businesses can take to ensure their message stands out in a crowded market.
The first step should be to research your competitors to discover services or features you offer they don’t offer.
Once you have identified that, it is time to get creative. To craft a memorable USP, use easy-to-understand language that speaks directly to your customer’s needs, feelings, and desires.
Incorporate aspects of storytelling in concise descriptions about your company’s mission and what value you deliver for customers through products and services. This creates an emotional connection that draws people in further with curiosity. All these elements combined will help build an effective USP that truly has the power to prompt potential customers to take action.
Positioning Statements vs. Taglines
Brand positioning statements and taglines have their own roles but are not the same. The former is for internal purposes. It is designed to guide key marketing decisions that shape customer understanding of your brand.
Taglines are externally focused. They are used to grab the audience’s attention. Taglines may be a slogan or phrase that captures the customer’s enthusiasm and gets them engaged with your brand.
Positioning statements and taglines must live up to your brand values while being unique. But getting customers to remember you through words is difficult, even if it is something as simple as a catchy soundbite.
A positioning statement should be the foundation of all branding efforts, providing direction and focus for your brand as it develops. This statement will become essential for articulating your core mission and concept in every form of communication. It should guide each decision made about how you present yourself and how consumers perceive you—from copywriting to graphic design.
Consistent brand messaging can increase revenue by more than 15%.
Choose the Right Pricing Model
Choosing the right pricing model for your business can have a tremendous impact on your success. Knowing which one works best for you will help you maximize revenue and optimize your profit.
There are several pricing models, but I’ll cover the most common ones in the sections that follow.
Cost-plus pricing is a strategy in which a company sets a base price for a product or service with an additional cost added to it. This allows businesses to make a profit from their sales. The idea is that a company should charge what it costs them to manufacture the product or perform a service, plus an extra fee for labor, overhead, and other expenses. The extra fee can be anything from a minimal rate to cover costs, to a more substantial mark up for profits.
While this type of pricing can be beneficial, there are drawbacks. If businesses use cost-plus pricing without taking market conditions into account, they may price themselves out of the market as expenses increase over time. If input costs associated with production vary significantly from one month to another, then it may prove difficult for companies to continue using cost-plus pricing in the long term.
Overall, cost-plus pricing is a widely used strategy because it provides businesses with an efficient way of calculating prices while providing maximum profitability on each sale or contract. Businesses must, however, keep careful track of input costs and compare their own prices against those of competitors to maintain accuracy and fairness.
The value-based pricing model is used to maximize profits by charging customers the most they might pay. The premise is that customers can see that the value the product offers is much higher than its price. Brands can only use this model successfully when they understand the perceived value of the product in the customer’s mind.
Companies with multiple segments or channels can sell the same product at different prices depending on how well each segment values it, allowing them to get optimal revenue out of each sale regardless of its size. Value-based pricing can also help grow profit margins since customers will often view higher prices as reflective of better quality products or services than those offered at lower prices points.
Overall, value-based pricing provides an effective framework for setting prices and creating individualized offers tailored to customer needs and preferences.
Hourly pricing is a pricing model usually used by service providers. Businesses calculate the cost of the resources they are providing, but they may not always have a measurement on which to base prices. However, this pricing model provides clients with transparency and predictability since fees can be discussed in advance.
Hourly pricing comes with its complications, however. The nature of this model requires businesses to bill their time accurately, and it’s easy to lose track or overestimate the hours spent against a project. At times, it can make more sense for certain client projects, depending on the scope and scale of work.
At its core, hourly pricing requires customers to understand how much time goes into performing a particular job.
This method is popular among consultants who must address varying issues within a respective field, such as digital marketing, law, or software development.
The fixed pricing requires buyers to pay a predetermined fee for goods or services. It is practical for services that take about the same amount of time or resources to complete, such as web design, IT support, or home repairs. The fee remains the same regardless of how long it takes to complete the work, allowing the customer to understand in advance what they will be paying.
The benefit of fixed pricing is that both the buyer and seller know exactly what the cost of the service will be before any work begins. This makes budgeting easier for purchasers and potentially more profitable for providers. With this type of business model, companies don’t have to worry about keeping track of hours their employees have been working on projects and can create more accurate estimates when offering quote promises on new jobs. It also helps eliminate disagreements between buyers and sellers over payment amounts, since the costs have already been set in stone prior to starting any project.
Another advantage of fixed pricing is that it encourages sellers to make sure their customers are happy with the finished product, ensuring repeat business from those customers.
Despite its advantages, fixed pricing can present problems for both sides when jobs prove considerably different than first thought.
Develop a Positioning Map
The concept of a price positioning map is used to understand the relationship between pricing and customer benefits. It helps to gain insight into competitive product offerings and helps brands strategize accordingly.
To create a map, the first step is to define the market by looking at similar products that are currently available. Then, choose the price point and determine the primary benefit offered by each product. Use this information to plot a graph and draw an expected-price line. This can help identify if current products are priced too high or low compared with what customers expect and how they could tailor their prices accordingly.
By plotting out these points, companies can see which competitors offer a better balance between benefit and cost for customers. Insights gained from this analysis help to determine appropriate pricing strategies for added value services or special product features competitors may not consider.
From a pricing perspective, this type of analysis helps businesses increase profit margins and sales by optimizing prices at different levels for various target customer demographics, depending on what people expect in terms of quality versus cost.
Reinforce Your Brand’s Differentiation with Service and Sales Processes
To create differentiation with service, businesses must understand the customer journey from beginning to end. To gain insight into your customers’ entire experience, map their journey and focus on creating unique points of differentiation with each step.
Mapping out the customer journey gives brands a holistic view of how customers interact with your company. This helps you identify where and how processes could be better. By taking an in-depth look at what customers are going through, you can develop a deep understanding of their needs and change the service process to accommodate them.
For example, if you know customers often complain about slow response times for service inquiries, or have difficulty ordering products, you can act accordingly. Your team can brainstorm ways to streamline response times, either by automating certain steps in the process or by staffing more reps on certain days when customer engagement is high. Similarly, clear navigation on landing pages reduces shopping cart abandonment rates.
It is important to remember that not all customer segments are created equal. Different customer groups require different levels of attention and customization. For instance, brands that sell to B2B service providers will need a different process than the one used by companies serving individual consumers. It is vital to take these differentiating factors into consideration when mapping out the customer journey. The nuances of each segment can make the difference between converting leads into long-term customers or losing potential sales opportunities altogether.
By designing a comprehensive roadmap based on customer data and feedback, you will be well-positioned to create value for your customers throughout every step of the service process.
Organizations can also differentiate with their sales process. Salespeople should learn how to position their offers to match the individual client's needs.
Salespeople need to communicate the features, advantages, and benefits that help meet the customer’s specific goal or desire. They must also be able to adjust their approach to align with any changes in the customer’s preferences or requirements.
Salespeople must attain an in-depth knowledge about each particular client, combining industry insights with key persona traits such as interests, values or perspectives. An effective salesperson knows that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ in selling—every person is unique and will have individual values that she looks for in products or services when making a purchase decision.
For these reasons, successful sales strategies should be developed to personalize interactions based on the prospect's demographics, psychographics, and behaviors. This kind of customization ensures that each buyer feels heard and understood throughout the entire buying journey. This allows companies to build trust with their customers and establish a long-term relationship.
Since each brand and customer base is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to positioning.
If you have questions or want to know how The Brand Auditors can help you position your brand, email me personally at [email protected].
Until next time,
Frequently Asked Questions About Brand Positioning
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