How to Position a Brand

An effective brand positioning strategy keeps a brand relevant and competitive while optimizing operational efficiency.

January 24, 2023

How to Position a Brand

Introduction


Take a moment to think about one of your favorite products. It should be something you love, something you would buy, even if you had to pay more or wait longer to get it.

Got it?

Good.

There is a reason you thought of that product.

It doesn’t matter why. The point is you thought of that product first.

Now, what if I told you the brand that made that product persuaded you to have a favorable view of it?

Well, they did.

The brand you chose knows that products of its type with certain qualities appeal to a specific group of people. So, they created a perception of their product that aligns with that target market. Since you thought of their product, you are likely one of their target customers.

This illustrates a brand positioning strategy in action.

Creating an effective position is critical to business success because:

It's what happens before the sale that makes the sale.

This applies to your business too.

Your target market is getting an impression of your company right now. Everything that relates to your business helps them develop an opinion of it — the website, ads, and even your office space. Potential customers use it all to compare your brand to competitors.

In this post, you will learn:

  • The most common types of positioning
  • How positioning can differentiate your brand
  • A framework you can use to position your brand
How to Position a Brand: Table of Contents

    Why Is Brand Positioning Important?


    Brand positioning is the process of building a perception for company in the minds of consumers compared to its competitors. Strong brand positioning can help companies develop a better marketing plan and become more competitive. This is an intentional process that aligns a product's benefits with consumer preferences.

    There are several advantages of successful brand positioning. Here are just a few:

    • It enhances the value of the brand’s products and services. As a result, the company incurs less price resistance
    • It establishes differentiation, making a company more competitive.
    • Organizations that create strong brand positioning have clearer strategic objectives, which enables them to deliver a better customer experience.

    4 Types of Brand Positioning Strategies


    There are several types of positioning strategies, but here are the most common:

    Service Quality Positioning

    Brands that leverage service place an emphasis on customer satisfaction. Of course, everyone wants great service — and most businesses claim to give it — but making customers happy day-in and day-out is no easy task. So, companies that plan to enhance brand positioning with customer service must be prepared to implement strict guidelines to ensure success. A system of checks and balances is necessary for all departments involved in service — i.e., sales, service, and brand leadership.

    Niche Positioning

    Niche positioning, in general, gives the customer the perception that a brand can offer them something competitors cannot.

    However, niche positioning can be broken into two sub-types. The first type is sometimes referred to as a blue ocean strategy. To build this position, a brand must be innovative and reframe the definition of a product, service, or industry in the customer’s mind. Doing so creates more value and demand for the brand.

    For example, Yellow Tail, a winemaker from Australia, focused on positioning its wine as a fun, non-traditional drink. This brand strategy and marketing approach contrasted with the traditional wine positioning that sold prestige and superior winemaking techniques.

    The second sub-type focuses on a specific customer segment rather than an industry or product category. As an example, a web design agency that specializes in building websites for engineering firms would have a competitive advantage over other web agencies when targeting engineers. Consumers want customized products and services, which makes this plan highly effective.

    Authority Positioning

    This strategy requires a company to build and communicate a high level of expertise in a specific industry. For example, “We’re the tax experts,” might be a great slogan for an accounting firm, but the firm should be prepared to back up its claim.

    Brands that want to position themselves as an industry authority must provide the audience with overwhelming proof that they can be trusted. Consumers are more skeptical than ever when it comes to authority claims. So, brands must supply a wealth of educational resources and other trust-building content. This strategy also requires patience because it may take years to establish a position of authority.

    Value Price Positioning

    As the name implies, value pricing leverages low price as a differentiator. After all, everyone wants to pay less, which means the lowest-priced brand wins, right?

    Not necessarily.

    Value pricing may work for a while, and there are occasions when it is advisable. But, brands that use value pricing should consider it a short-term strategy for acquiring market share rather than a long-term success plan. In most cases, companies will find that there is always a competitor willing to sell for less.

    Types-of-Brand-Positioning-Strategies
    IMAGE: Types of Brand Positioning Strategies

    Positioning and Brand Signals


    A strong brand position influences consumers to see the brand as it wants to be seen. Brand signals are a key ingredient in the positioning process.

    Brand signals are indicators or triggers that work together to help companies differentiate. These signals are experiential and can be stated or implied.

    For example, a logo or color scheme are examples of visual brand signals. Branding a product design is also a signal.

    Brand signals build credibility. For example, if a company wanted to position itself as an authority in the chemical engineering space, it might launch a campaign to educate the audience on its innovative processes.

    Brand signals also promote trust and are usually communicated across multiple channels such as social media, websites, and television. However, due to the saturated marketplace, it may take some time for a brand to achieve its desired position. Therefore, consistent communication is essential.

    Brand signals are important for another reason. Consumers have come to expect brands to possess certain qualities and characteristics based on their industry. So, a brand must communicate the brand signals that align with the position it wants to have.

    Brand-Positioning-7-Steps
    IMAGE: Branding and Positioning Strategy in 7 Steps

    How to Position a Brand in 7 Steps


    In this section, I will provide a brand positioning framework you can use.

    Step 1: Assess Your Current Positioning Strategy

    Whether you know it or not, you already have a marketplace position. So, the first step is to determine how you compare to other brands.

    But self-assessment is not easy. There is a tendency for business executives and marketing teams to have an optimistic view of their own brand. Here are some questions to help you assess your current market position:

    • Has your business's brand image been designed to align with its industry, target market, and other factors such as price point?
    • Does your brand routinely attract interest from ideal customers?
    • Are your products or services selling at low prices or at a higher price point? Where do your prices fit in with those of competing brands?
    • Are marketing strategies and brand communication designed to connect with the target audience based on their needs and desires?
    • Does the brand's positioning statement differentiate it from direct competitors?

    Surveys and customer feedback are valuable sources of information that can be used in this step.

    After you have reviewed customer data, answer these questions:

    • Can you identify any recurring themes or trends in their responses?
    • Do you see similarities among your customer demographics?
    • Which of your products or services are most popular? Why?

    Want to know how a brand audit can help your company develop strong brand positioning?

    Schedule a FREE, no obligation consultation to find out.

    Step 2: Assess Your Competitors

    You can’t know how to compete until you have a clear view of your current brand position.

    Start with at least five but no more than ten top competitors. Study their websites, social media profiles, and reviews. Then, work through the same questions you used for the self-assessment in step one.

    Include these questions as well:

    • What is each brand known for?
    • Of the four positioning strategies you learned about in the section above, which one do they use?
    • Analyze each company's offering. What benefit claims and promises do they make in their marketing?

    Step 3: Create a Positioning Map

    Another step in successful positioning is to determine where your brand stands within its industry. You can do this by mapping, listing, or drawing a tree.

    (For reference, I have provided a tree-style map example. See below.)

    List all your products and services and those of your competitors. Next, list the features and benefits of each. Finally, note the price points and types of customers that might buy them.

    Place competitors on the brand positioning map. Use a number or letter to represent each. Where you place them will depend on the information you collected in the previous steps.

    Once you complete the map, a picture of your current position will become clear. Can you identify strengths and weaknesses of each brand, including your own?

    You should also be able to identify product gaps, which reveal opportunities to create additional revenue streams with new product offers.

    Choose axis attributes relevant to your industry for the map.

    Remember: the more accurate your data, the more precise your positioning will be.

    Brand positioning and pricing strategy
    IMAGE: Brand Positioning Map

    Step 4: List Benefit Claims

    Why should someone choose your company over all the others?

    A key to all brand positioning is to establish differentiation that aligns with the target audience and consumer preferences. Of course, your brand won’t (and shouldn't) appeal to everyone. But the goal is to align your brand's unique offer and its benefit claims with the types of customers you want to attract.

    For example, do you have a proprietary process or use special materials? How do these make your product or service better than others like it?

    You will use this information to create your brand positioning statement. (See Step 6)

    But first…

    Step 5: Make Sure You Can Deliver.

    Look over the list of benefit claims you developed in step 4. Are you confident that you can deliver them?

    Failure to deliver is the primary reason customers leave a brand to buy from a competitor. Several factors affect deliverability, such as availability, convenience, and speed.

    Here are some questions that will help clarify your brand's capacity to deliver:

    • Does the product or service do what it is supposed to do every single time, without error?
    • Can people get it when they need it?
    • Do you communicate the brand promise in a way that relates to customers? To do this, you must first understand how your customers define quality.

    For physical products, quality is usually tied to materials and manufacturing processes. Expertise is the primary quality marker for service providers. Premium brands always strive for the highest quality, no matter the cost.

    Why consumers quit using brands
    IMAGE: Why Consumers Quit Using Brands (SOURCE: SAP Hybris)

    Step 6: Create Your Value Proposition

    Now you are ready to draft a strong brand positioning statement that summarizes what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and for whom. This is simple statement is much more than a tagline.

    Here are some tips that will help you draft a positioning statement:

    Focus on the target audience. Think of how people relate to what you do. Many businesses use industry terms and jargon in their mission statements and marketing. But people outside your industry — i.e., your customers — don’t understand those terms.

    Instead, use their words to describe the value you offer and not the way you might describe it. Develop customer personas. Who is your target customer? What do they want from your business? The information collected in the previous steps will help you answer these questions.

    Define your desired market position. In this part of the process, you get to decide where you fit in among your competitors. Take into account your company’s strengths. What target audience segments are the best fit for your brand?

    Just because you tell people how they should perceive your brand does not mean they will agree. That is why consistency in brand communication is so critical.

    Consistent brand messaging can increase revenue by more than 15%.

    Leverage your biggest differentiator. Use the most valuable benefit claims to make an impact in your positioning statement. Make sure it is unique and unlike anything your competitors say.

    Don’t be shy. If you don’t brag about yourself, no one is going to do it for you.

    Offer Proof. You must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you can deliver what you promise. Simply offering a guarantee can do the job, but make sure you can back up all claims. Statistical data is another form of proof. Emphasizing the quality of a tried-and-true process is an example of providing evidence.

    Review and revise. You may have to tweak your statement several times before it feels right.

    Don’t promote it until you have created the final version.

    Step 7: Own It

    Congratulations!

    Your new positioning will transform your marketing and the way you do business. But this final step never ends. You must now put plan into action.

    Keep it front and center. It should serve as the compass for everything you do. Everyone in your organization should know your positioning statement. Consistency will keep your company laser-focused, which ultimately improves results.

    Conclusion


    If you have questions or need help from a brand and positioning specialist, click this link to contact me.

    Until next time,

    Chris

    Chris Fulmer

    Chris Fulmer

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

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    • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
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    • Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.

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