Brand positioning is the spine of your marketing strategy, and holds the answers to why and how you perform your marketing efforts.
It filters through every aspect of your business, including your;
- Brand identity design
Your brand positioning helps to inform it all. It can even help you decide how your staff should greet your customers.
Ready to learn more about your brand positioning? Let’s jump in.
What is Brand Positioning?
Your brand positioning is where you sit amongst your competition. Nothing more, nothing less.
Are you trying to fit in? Or are you trying to stand out and disrupt the competitive landscape?
It’s a simple concept to nail once you’re on the right lines. But, it often gets confused with other components of building a brand such as brand strategy and brand identity.
All of these things factor into each other, sure, but isolating and identifying your brand position by creating a brand positioning statement is a fundamental point to cover when creating your brand.
Brand positioning shows you where to focus in terms of your sales and marketing.
Getting this right puts you on the road to building effective sales and marketing campaigns that can generate more leads and/or sales.
Which is what we’re all here for, right?
Create an easily digestible framework for your customer to form their opinion from. If you overcomplicate things or are too vague in your positioning, your customers won’t know WHY they’re picking you over someone else.
Everyone wants to sell a lot, whether that be widgets or services.
But thinking you can sell to anyone and everyone will be where you go wrong.
This approach will mean mixed messages, inaccurate marketing, and a lot of effort going into marketing campaigns with not much ROI on your time and money.
Spending time to work out a targeted approach will always pay off. Find your niche, and get down to the basics of what problem you solve for your customer;
- What solution do you offer that fits their lifestyle?
- Why are you a better choice than your competitors?
- And why do your customers care?
Answer these questions, and you’re on the right track to crafting an excellent brand positioning statement.
What is a Brand Positioning Statement?
Your brand positioning statement is pretty straight forward. It can be a well crafted sentence that outlines and encapsulates;
- What market are you in
- Who are your target audience
- Why they should choose you
- What proof do you have for the claims you make?
It tells customers where you sit amongst your competition, helping them to understand the story that you are selling to them and realising how you suit their needs better than your competitors do.
It’s essential to get your brand positioning statement correct from the start. Once you do, you’re then able to refer back to it when creating the other components of your brand strategy, and make sure you’re positioning yourself properly.
There’s always a degree of fluidity when it comes to brand strategy, and your positioning is no different. Competitors come and go, and with it, the landscape changes.
However, write your brand positioning statement for the now, and don’t be afraid to adapt it when the time comes!
To find out more, don’t forget to download Brand Strategy Made Simple.
What Does Looking into Your Brand Positioning Involve?
Firstly, let’s take a step back and look at your product from your consumer’s perspective.
You need to understand what motivates your target audience’s purchasing decisions.
- A unique quirk?
How would the customer categorise you?
You know where you are aiming to sit in your marketplace – but do they?
Brand positioning is there to not only help you to find your position in the marketplace, but also find your position in the mind of your target audience.
Delve into customer personas in as much detail as humanly possible. Create an initial skeleton by thinking about;
- How much do they earn
- What do they do in their free time
- How will they see your ads
- What is the best way to target them and when
Engulf yourself in market research, think of those focus groups on The Apprentice that have zero chill.
Now take it one step further. You want to find out;
- Where do they work
- Where do they spend their free time
- What apps do they scroll through when they’ve got 5 minutes
- How do they get about, what is their main mode of transport
- What is their family setup?
Create a map of their lifestyle through the whole week to make sure that you have really gained a deeper understanding of the individual that you want to sell to
This means you can then open up and explore all avenues of targeting them as closely as possible, and make those sales.
Being aware of your competitors isn’t enough, you need to look closely at;
- Who’s cheaper, and why
- Who’s positioned themselves on the high end, what strategies have they used to get themselves there
- Is there potential for anyone to adapt over time and hit your target market
- How does your competitors messaging & branding affect their position on the market
You can answer all of these questions by conducting a thorough competitive analysis for your brand.
Your USP should always be at the heart of your brand positioning.
A USP is a unique selling proposition. It’s the reason you’re unique when sat amongst your competitors. It’s the thing that makes people want to choose you.
Clearly communicating your USP means that consumers will understand and therefore buy into your brand. It’s all about giving that one specific reason for your prospective customer to make the decision to go with you over someone else.
And every time you convince a person to make this decision, it grows your brand.
Your USP needs to be solid, and stamped into everything you do.
Your Price Point
Your price point reflects the service you offer.
If you’re asking customers to pay a premium for your product, your branding, packaging design, advertising, and other marketing or branded output should reflect this, justifying your cost in the mind of the consumer.
The same goes for the other end of the scale.
If your brand is more humble, then there isn’t any need to spend huge amounts on fancy packaging materials or adverts in the back of Tatler.
We’re not saying “do your designing with a Sharpie on printing paper” – you still have to make sure your customers know who you are and why you’re there for them!
Or maybe your brand positioning dictates that actually, that’s exactly what you should do?
Here are some examples of how brand positioning looks at different ends of the spectrum:
If you’re more expensive than your competitors then you can offer a better level of service, or if you are a smaller team then you can be more agile and responsive.
A great example of next level brand positioning is Greggs.
The salt of the earth, high street bakery who reinvented themselves as the go to food vendor for your break time.
Greggs is the ultimate nemesis of the packed lunch. Greggs speaks to the people who go to make their own lunch and then just think, “fuck that.”
With a hugely competitive price point, they make sure they’re cheap enough, and substantial enough, to not make people think too much about how much money they’re spending instead of bringing their lunch in.
At Greggs, you’re looking at around £3 for a sandwich, drink and a snack.
Yeah, this sounds pretty standard in comparison to a supermarket meal deal, but put this up against Pret, a direct competitor selling on the go breakfast, lunch and baked goods and you’re looking at breaking into a tenner for the same offering.
And in city centres full of office workers and not many supermarkets, the on-the-go food market is dog eat dog.
Their good humoured PR stunts and cheeky approach to marketing has made them a huge talking point, but they’ve never strayed from their working class target audience and their brand positioning has stuck fast, and strengthened as a result.
They poked fun at high end brands, and themselves, with tongue in cheek press samples for their much anticipated vegan sausage roll. No prizes for guessing who they’re trying to emulate.
“Pastry Layers: 96, Flake Resolution: Optimal, Taste Level: Maximum, Mega Bites: 10.”
And is that placement of the Greggs logo a cheeky hint at Windows vs Apple, reigniting the age old Mac vs. PC debate. FYI – it’s Mac, everytime.
One interesting and lucrative move Greggs made to meet customer demand was to take the success they already had on the high street, and find another gap in the market for it.
They placed more stores in travel hubs like airports and stations, where people wanted on-the-go food at a good price.
Of course, one of life’s pleasures is sitting down to a ludicrously expensive, dry and tasteless fry up with an overpriced pint before boarding your plane.
But, if you don’t have all the time in the world at the airport or you don’t fancy making a dent into your spending money before you even get there, being able to grab breakfast or a pasty from Greggs is a very welcome alternative.
Where Do I Put My Brand?
Don’t just stay in your lane; slay in your lane!
At this stage, it’s essential you’re honest and realistic with yourself, and stay true to your brand.
By no means are we saying you shouldn’t aim for the stars!
But it’s all about delving deep into your customer personas.
Are you a ‘does what it says on the tin’ basic brand? Own it. You’ll get way more attention from the people that you’re going to sell to if you market yourselves directly to them. Show them why you are the right fit for them.
“We’re cheaper and don’t have the fancy branding our competitors do, because we offer a cost effective solution for low income households.”
This is an example of a brand positioning statement, which you can then build your brand around. How are you going to show people this statement through your branding, marketing and advertising efforts?
Or are you super high end with big margins, a luxury price tag and an exquisite product or service?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself straight in there at the top spot!
“We’re more expensive than our competitors, and don’t want to compete on price, because we offer a much better service.”
Every marketing move you make should amplify your brand positioning.
But be realistic!
One of the elements to consider when creating your brand positioning statement, is the element of proof.
Saying you’re better than the rest? Prove it.
Cheaper than everyone else? Prove it.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to stay in your lane, but you have to be able to back up any big claims you’re making.
Here’s another way to think about your brand positioning, and something to avoid if you’re in the restaurant space:
You’re an exclusive restaurant, and have positioned yourselves as the go to destination for special occasions and date nights; events where people want to splash out. But there are other restaurants in town hot on your heels…
Annoyingly, you’re experiencing a bit of a lull in custom. Friday nights aren’t as busy as they used to be. You panic and immediately think: discounts.
Putting a discounted deal on an external voucher site like Wowcher will affect your branding, your reputation, and your brand positioning against your competitors.
Sure, it’ll get folk through the door and bums on seats – but what’s the likelihood of these people coming back as repeat customers and paying full price in your premium restaurant? Not very likely.
It also means that from then on, people will be reluctant to pay full price in your venue knowing that it’s available heavily discounted. This can then put a question mark over your initial price point for your original customers.
Avoid cheapening your brand and letting another restaurant squeeze themselves into the top spot in your marketplace.
In this situation, offering something like a live pianist or overhauling your cocktail menu would be a more suitable move to make to keep your brand positioning right where you want it to be.
It’s important to stay steadfast in your brand positioning, building your marketing strategies around it.
Each move that you make in your marketing strategy can impact your brand positioning, by strengthening and solidifying your brand – or totally throwing yourselves under the bus!
Try to avoid going under the bus. No one likes finding themselves under the bus.
It’s much more beneficial to cement your brand position, rather than casting your net too wide to try to appeal to the masses.
If you do, you risk misplacing your aim, and losing out, where you could have dominated the market if you had simply focussed your aim on a suitable target.
So, on to that all important question…
How Do You Create Your Brand Positioning Statement?
Let’s jump in and give this a go.
Brand Positioning starts with your competitors.
Try to list 3 of your key competitors.
Now, add in what are the three main attributes that they say about themselves.
Once you’ve done this, think of an opposite attribute for each of those of your competitors.
- Cheaper > more expensive
- Trendy > traditional
The idea behind this is so you can spin what your competition doesn’t do.
For example, fast food focuses on a speedy meal. ‘Slow food’ focuses on high quality ingredients.
Every positive will always come with a negative, something that has been sacrificed which can be spun into a positive when marketing it from the opposite angle.
Take 3 of your most workable options from above and try drafting your positioning statement around each of them:
E.g. Our competition provides a cheaper service, but we provide a bespoke service for each client and that requires more time and focus from senior professionals, which is ultimately a premium service.
Time to add some proof. What can be said about your business to back your statements up? What results do you have, or what do people say about your service?
Now, you should be at a point where you have 3 key positioning statements with evidence. It’s time to check your positioning.
For a solid start on your settling on your brand position, ask yourself these 5 questions;
- Can you own this position completely? Who or what are the risks to that?
- Are you able to deliver on your promise?
- How viable is this positioning over the next decade?
- Are there any technological advancements or industry developments that could undermine your new positioning?
- How close are any of your competitors to this positioning?
- Creating valuable content
- Engaging with your audience organically
- Paid advertising
Stake your own claim. Don’t position yourself in the same way another already established company has, you don’t want to risk being another “us too!” business.
Is your positioning concise enough to be summed up in a few words? That’s great!
Still struggling? Try this fill in the blanks exercise:
Our [offering] is the only [category/service/product] that [benefit].
How Has Influencer Marketing Affected Brand Positioning?
The rise of influencer marketing has thrown a total curveball into the online advertising industry and brand positioning world.
You now see people on Instagram advertising things. Or “casually posing” with products that are ahem
definitely not ads.
Lower end products and fast brands who, before the rise of social media, would have struggled to gain brand recognition within their market have recognised the benefit of ploughing a healthy portion of their marketing budget in the direction of influencers and affiliate links.
They’ve flourished simply from choosing the right influencer at the right time.
Influencer and affiliate marketing is now the main focus for many new brands’ marketing strategies. It’s a great tool to add into your digital strategy, but we don’t suggest simply relying on just that if you’re looking for longevity with your brand.
Choosing your influencers wisely. But more importantly, don’t use this single channel as the only way you market your business.
If you’re really struggling, check out our small business advertising ideas to help get the cogs turning
It seems obvious, if you are going to go down the influencer route, do some digging. Check out their media pack and engagement stats. The last thing you want is to give free products or pay somebody to ‘influence’ 20,000 bot accounts
Even if they’re relevant in your industry, make sure their stats show that their main target audience aligns with yours, or are they tapped into a market you specifically want to attract?
Does their brand positioning align with yours?
If not, as much as it seems great to have their name linked to your brand, it’s not worth the money if their audience simply isn’t going to buy your stuff.
Conclusion: What is Brand Positioning and how to create a brand positioning statement
Creating a solid brand positioning statement will give you a springboard for all of your marketing efforts, and make sure you aren’t firing arrows in the dark.
Every single piece of communication that you put out for your brand will be there with a direct purpose, aiming at a specific target, and should have a substantial impact on it’s intended audience.
Distinct brand positioning gives you a clear way of communicating with your customer (more on tone of voice later!), and tells them exactly why you are the brand for them.
It will help you and your team plan your next moves, and each marketing effort will have a point behind it, you will always have a target. If it hits other people along the way then great, but focussing your efforts onto one group of people will cement your brand positioning in the market and serve to strengthen that brand identity.
Have you used our template to create your brand positioning statement?