How to form your brand positioning strategy
Your brand position is your image, your personality – what customers imagine when they think of you. It establishes what sets you apart from competitors and helps convince users to purchase your product or service.
Brand position is not something someone researches as they compare services, but simply absorbs as they deal with you. It’s why, without thinking, you know the difference between buying technology at your local dollar shop versus Harvey Norman or an Apple Store.
If you don’t have a clearly defined brand position strategy backed up by a positioning statement, customers might not know how you are different to competitors at a glance. So today, let’s discuss:
- How to craft a brand position statement.
- Examples of what other people are doing.
- How to research your brand position, if you need some tips.
Part 1: How to craft a brand position statement
A brand position statement is a short paragraph for internal use that defines your message and place in the market. Your entire brand position strategy must follow the guidance of this message.
Your position statement will be only a couple of sentences long, and should communicate who you’re talking to and what sets you apart. In order to create it, you will need to have three things defined:
- Your customers and what they are looking for.
- Your product/service and its category.
- The unique benefit of your brand over a competitor.
Don’t have these defined? Skip to Part 3 of this article then come back. And if you need examples of what other people are doing, scroll to Part 2.
Ideally, your brand position statement should be unique to your business. However, to help you get started, here are some templates to play with:
- From TechTarget: For [target customer] who [statement of the need or opportunity], the [product name] is a [product category] that [statement of key benefit]. Unlike [primary competitor], our product [primary differentiation].
- From HubSpot: For [target market] who [target market need], [your brand name] provides [main benefit that differentiates you from competitors] because [reason why target market should believe you].
- From Brandwatch: [Your brand name] is a [category in which you operate] company that provides [target audience] with [unique benefit of your service] by [how you deliver on this service].
Part 2: Examples of common brand positioning strategies
These are some of the most common brand positioning strategies used across the world. How many do you recognise?
This is where brands go after each other directly, often even by name. Think about Wendy’s roasting McDonald’s and Burger King, and vice versa. This strategy also fits with many of the below.
Brands directly competing call each other’s prices and services out to show how they are different.
- What might your brand look like? Compare your prices with a direct competitor, or discuss the benefits of your service over alternatives.
A common tactic of product makers/service providers is to focus on how much better they are compared to alternatives, quality being the common comparison. Think Aston Martin over Toyota – a luxury brand versus a family brand.
- What might your brand look like? If you’re a luxury provider, a premium service, or perhaps something specific in another way (child-friendly, safer, bigger), that focus will separate you from competitors.
Be unique or innovative
If your product/service is a new invention that wasn’t around before, you can set yourself as the market leader by default. Think about how ride sharing didn’t exist before Uber.
The consequence here, of course, is that you’ll have to convince people to adopt this new way of thinking, and you’ll need to get legal protection so others don’t swoop in and copy you to take your place while you establish your image.
- What might your brand look like? Label yourself as new, innovative or changing the game. Not everybody is an early adopter of new things, but Uber, Amazon and the like have shown us that there are enough people willing to jump onto new trends to make a startup successful.
If you haven’t invented a totally new product you can still call yourself innovative by reframing people’s expectations. That is, talking about your product in a new way, as if the old way is just not that interesting anymore. Look at how Apple focused on style, not specs.
- What might your brand look like? Reframing expectation is tricky, but could help to discredit what your competitors are focusing on. If you think an aspect of your product is a no-brainer in that market (e.g. CPU in computers), don’t talk about it. Focus on what makes your product unique, and talk as though THAT’S what’s important, not this other stuff.
Identify your niche
Here’s an alternative to reframing expectations: focusing on a niche is one way to cut through the din of a noisy industry. Being a niche reduces your potential customer size, of course, but makes it easier to find good leads. Think about a builder who specialises in sustainable SIP panels over general construction techniques.
- What might your brand look like? Have you carved out a niche in your industry, or can you do so? Revolve your position around being the best at one particular thing as opposed to competing on everything.
Solve a problem
Finally, there’s problem solving. While arguably this brand position could fit into many of the above, it also stands on its own – ensuring your message focuses on a particular issue, and how you solve it. This is very common in the SaaS world, where platforms (e.g. easy-to-use data analytics) can be tailored to specific pain points.
- What might your brand look like? Does your product exist to solve a unique problem in your industry or niche? Assuming this is so, if you aren’t sure where to focus your position you could hone in on this pain point and really push yourselves as the go-to brand in solving this issue.
Part 3: How to research your brand position
Identify your current position (and what your target market wants)
First, you need to know where you are in order to plot where you’re going. This means dissecting how you currently discuss your business, and who your customers are (and what they want).
Define your customers
Craft a user personas guide. This will encourage you to write down who your specific customers are and, importantly, what they are asking and what their pain points are.
Define your unique selling point (USP)
Also known as a unique value proposition (UVP), your USP is what makes your brand different to its competitors. Going back to our earlier strategies, this is the luxury aspect of your brand, or the family-friendly aspect, or the style, etc.
Why does your product/service exist, what need does it meet in the market, and in what ways are you doing it better than others? This doesn’t have to match your target audience’s needs yet if you’ve realised they don’t align – right now we’re just assessing the as-is of your business.
Now look at your competitors
Knowing what your competitors do best is the start of knowing how to position yourself around them.
- What do they offer customers?
- What do you think their brand position is?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
How to find competitors
- Talk to salespeople: They will likely already have this information written down, and will have discussed it regularly with prospects.
- Search online: Google keywords related to your business and see who pops up. Chances are if they’re ranking highly in search, they are a strong competitor.
- Look at social sites: Review sites, Q&A sites (like Quora) and social media all have useful information. Who are customers talking or asking about? Who ranks above you in the reviews?
Establish your new brand position
Now you know what your competitors are doing and what their position is. How do you want your position to differ from theirs?
Ideally, the outcome of this step is to match the needs of your customers with the product/service you sell. When it lines up, you must then identify what makes your offering stronger/different to competitors so you can focus on that in your brand position statement and all future messaging.
Brand affinity can be a force multiplier for your marketing strategy. It can reduce the costs of your campaigns and get you ahead of the competition at decision time. Here are 6 ways content marketing can boost your brand affinity. https://t.co/1vOg42rdT9 pic.twitter.com/ZEvVRgBHJg— Castleford Media (@castlefordmedia) October 24, 2018
Part 4: Go forth, and do marketing
From here on out, all of your marketing materials should align with your brand position strategy. If you think you need to rebrand entirely, now is a great time to do so.
How content impacts your brand position
Content is the way you reach customers. Every time they interact with your business, they are absorbing your brand position – if you know what that position is meant to be, your message will be more consistent and so your content will always be reminding customers of your place in their lives.
- Example: You’re that construction company we talked about earlier specialising in SIP panels made from sustainable materials. Your brand position is that you occupy a sustainability niche, and that your brand is better for the planet than competitors. Therefore, your content could talk about the benefits of sustainable building, the impacts of bad materials, and so on.
A final important point before we’re done
Review your brand position statement regularly. Perhaps yearly, or whenever something major happens in your industry (e.g. a big competitor launches).
Review your brand position statement regularly.
Read reviews and ask for feedback from sales prospects and customers so you see the impact your position has on them. Experiment with different types of content and maybe even different messages, depending how your research goes (e.g. maybe those blogs aren’t hitting the mark, but you made a few videos that were vastly more popular – so consider making more videos).
Only through analysis and experimentation can you be truly confident that your brand position is having the expected impact.