What is Brand Positioning? A 2023 Guide to Creating a Brand Positioning Strategy
Making your brand stand out in the marketplace is critical to business success and should be an integral part of your digital transformation strategy. With extensive competition from existing brands and newcomers alike, effective brand positioning that differentiates and conveys your company’s unique value is essential to attracting and retaining customers and building brand loyalty.
Examples of brands with effective modern-day brand positioning strategies include Trader Joe’s and Tesla. As a national chain, Trader Joe’s has successfully positioned itself as a neighborhood grocery store that’s upscale and health-focused, yet welcoming and down-to-earth. Trader Joe’s customers identify with the brand and one another as savvy, educated consumers.
Tesla positions its brand as being different from gas-powered luxury vehicles while offering higher quality and a coolness factor over competing electric cars and SUVs. Even its feature naming conventions, such as Ludicrous Mode, set Tesla in a realm of its own in the consumer’s mind.
There are also brands such as BandAid and Kleenex, whose brand names are synonymous with the general product. Instead of a bandage, you think of a BandAid. Instead of disposable paper tissues, you think of a Kleenex.
Our brand positioning guide below explains how your business can benefit from a memorable, effective brand positioning strategy and the steps you should take to create one.
Brand positioning advantages
Differentiates your company in the market
Successful brand positioning starts by differentiating your product or service not only from the competition but in the marketplace. Sure, you need to define how your product or service fulfills customers’ needs or desires in some way that is better, faster, or more affordable than your competitors. Still, you can bet the competition is working on ways to eclipse your capabilities, just as you are theirs. This is why genuinely memorable brands reach beyond this with positioning that resonates with their target market(s), provides definitive differentiation, and appeals to customers with relevance, believability, credibility, and uniqueness.
It helps differentiate your company in the customers’ mind
When your company doesn’t have a brand positioning strategy, you’re letting consumers position your brand for you and put you in a box they define. Make sure you define your own brand in an effective way, so your business holds positive and lasting space within consumers’ minds.
Brand positioning that’s unique and compelling requires an in-depth look at every aspect of your brand, including how customers personally identify with it. Take Tesla’s Ludicrous Mode we mentioned earlier. It’s a powertrain capability that enables faster acceleration. Of course, the competition will try to meet and beat this, but there’s only one Ludicrous Mode, and it belongs to Tesla in the mind of the market and their customers.
Also, consider how prominently your brand appears in an online search for any given keyword. That’s your share of the collective voice. It impacts and reflects how effectively your brand can be recalled and differentiated by a consumer.
It allows you to specialize and synthesize
Most companies specialize in something, but it might not be that obvious to customers and investors if you don’t have a strong brand position. Creating a coherent, compelling brand positioning statement allows you to synthesize your fundamental message by breaking it down to its core elements, and reducing fluff and extraneous information.
It helps you compete on more than price
Competing with other companies on price alone and engaging in price wars usually isn’t sustainable in the long run. If your product or service’s cost happens to undercut competitors’ prices, that’s great, but don’t let this be your only differentiator. Convey compelling reasons why you are less or more expensive and focus on brand positioning that builds value and trust in your brand. Also, consider what emotions you want people to associate with your brand.
Let’s say a new competitor launches a cheaper solution to grab attention and market share. If you’ve built trust and value in your brand versus focusing on price alone, most customers will be willing to overlook a 10% discount to choose a brand they trust and identify with versus an unknown.
Brand positioning focuses your marketing message and values
Consumers are continually bombarded by marketing messages, thanks to digital transformation. Moreover, attention spans are growing shorter. Digital Transformation World reports that a recent study indicates today’s average human attention span is just eight seconds.
With only a few seconds to tell customers and the marketplace in general who you are and what your company is about, a strong brand positioning strategy with a tight marketing message is essential.
6-step brand positioning strategy process: What to consider
Even highly competitive companies have difficulty positioning their brand and explaining how their business is different. Don’t let this dissuade you. Follow this 6-step brand positioning process. The advantages of a strong brand positioning statement are more than worth the time and effort.
- How is your brand currently positioned? Do you have a well-crafted strategy in place? If so, can you improve it, and how would this positively impact your brand? If not, why? If it’s because internal resources don’t have the bandwidth or the expert knowledge needed to create a brand positioning statement, consider staff augmentation with Upwork for the project.
- How do your existing and potential customers view your brand? Brand positioning provides an invaluable opportunity to define how your brand is perceived and positioned to resonate with your base.
- Compare your positioning to your competitors. Delve a little deeper into the competitive landscape. Place your brand on a grid next to your competitors. Visually map where everyone in the market is positioned relative to your brand. Identify which competitors are similar, what positions seem off-the-mark, and any you believe are positioned more uniquely than your brand and why.
- Develop a distinct, value-based position. We mentioned earlier the pitfall of differentiating on price. Instead, focus on how your brand offers value to the customer and why your solutions are best, regardless of the item’s monetary value.
- Craft a brand positioning statement. Develop your brand positioning statement using all of the information you’ve discussed and gleaned so far in the previous steps. Be patient. A brand positioning statement usually goes through several iterations as you hone it. Put in the effort to create a statement that captures your brand’s essence and conveys its value and differentiators to reap the rewards.
- Test the efficacy of your brand positioning statement. There’s no substitute for testing the effectiveness of your brand positioning with existing and potential customers. Define your test group sample strategy. Plan on testing with multiple groups to see how each interprets your brand. Are there differences among groups? Why? What can you change to make the perceptions more consistent among groups?
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How to write a brand positioning statement
A positioning statement is a concise, straightforward way of telling consumers who you are, what your company provides, what it solves, and how it’s different. Creating a brand positioning statement looks easy, but it can take time. Be patient and keep honing your statement until you’ve distilled everything down into the essence of what you’re selling and to whom, and why your solution is better.
Use the following simple formula to craft your brand positioning statement: (Brand) is a (1) company that provides (2) with (3) by (4). Keep in mind your statement doesn’t have to follow this exact order. As long as you’ve included these elements, you can create powerful brand positioning.
- What business category is your company in? It sounds straightforward, but if your company overlaps with several categories, defining your place and relevance within them is essential.
- Who does your product or service serve? Define your target market or markets and any niche or vertical markets before moving to step three. If your brand has multiple target markets, you may wonder if you should tailor your positioning to each one. Generally, there’s more benefit in establishing a single, strong brand position and merely changing the market messaging than creating multiple brand positioning strategies.
- Define the customer benefit. What problems, pain points, issues, or needs does your company solve? Why is your solution the best choice? Cut through the noise. Distill the information into a brief, concise, relevant statement that resonates with your customers.
- How are you positioned to deliver on your promise? Whether it’s the quality and value of your product or service, the level of customer care you promise, both of these, or something else, make sure you can deliver on your promise and map out how you’ll accomplish this. Identify the most compelling evidence your brand offers to deliver on its brand promise.
Examples of brand positioning statements
Below are a few brand positioning statements examples for today’s popular brands.
- Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola offers a wide range of the most refreshing options for individuals who enjoy quality beverages. Drinking a Coca-Cola product will create a positive experience, inspire happiness, and make a positive difference in our customers' lives. Our company remains intensely focused on consumers’ and customers’ needs and developing refreshing, satisfying beverages that meet them.
- Amazon: Amazon provides a convenient, one-stop online shopping site for consumers seeking a vast range of products and quick doorstep delivery. Our customer-focused obsession, passion for innovation, development of tools and processes that help sellers reach their goals, and commitment to operational excellence set Amazon apart from other online retailers.
- Nike: Nike provides top-performing sports apparel and athletic shoes made of high-quality materials for people and athletes seeking advanced, functional, and fashionable athletic wear. At Nike, we combine a commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies and trend-setting designs.
- Apple: Apple leads the technology industry with the most innovative products, offering the best personal computer and mobile devices for all ages. At Apple, we emphasize technological research, innovation, and best business best practices while also considering the impact on our customers and the planet.
- Grove Collaborative: Grove Collaborative is an affordable, online market with optional membership that delivers natural, eco-friendly home essentials, personal care, and baby, kid, and pet products to your doorstep. Products offered represent the highest quality, healthy, sustainable products available for every budget and lifestyle.
What makes a good brand positioning statement?
Now you’re ready to review and evaluate your strawman brand positioning statement by considering the following questions.
- Does it genuinely differentiate your brand from your competitors? It’s time to be honest. Are your differentiators genuinely unique, or are you trying to “spin” common things you share with the competition? Most modern consumers are savvy and have lots of information at their fingertips. If your differentiators aren’t unique, they’ll figure it out.
- Does your statement match customer perceptions of your brand? You will know the answer if you tested your brand positioning statement’s efficacy as recommended in the 6-step process we outlined earlier.
- Is it focused on your target audience? Is it relevant to your audience? Does it resonate with their needs and provide a satisfying solution?
- Is it memorable and motivating? A bland positioning statement doesn’t motivate consumers or help them spontaneously recall your brand when prompted by a product or service category. For example, when you think of electric vehicles, you can’t help but think of Tesla. You want your brand to have top-of-mind customer awareness.
- Is it easy to understand? Your brand positioning statement should be brief and concise. Aim for three to five sentences. The fewer, the better.
- Can your brand truly own what it promises to deliver? Sure, lofty promises make your brand sound good, but if your company can’t deliver on its promises now and over time, then your brand can suffer in the marketplace.
- Will it withstand counterattacks from your competitors? If a competitor can poke holes through your brand positioning, you can bet consumers can too.
- Is it generic, or is it difficult to copy? Again, it’s critical to develop a unique brand positioning statement. Otherwise, it begs the question of whether your brand is truly different from all others.
- Does it enable growth? Strive to create an evergreen positioning statement that will pass the test of time.
- Does your brand positioning ladder up to your values and enable fluidity in times of crisis? The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of being agile and flexible in uncertain times. A brand position built on a solid foundation will help you maintain your brand’s promise regardless of marketplace upheaval.
- Will it help you make more informed marketing and branding decisions? A well-constructed brand positioning message is a tool you’ll repeatedly use as you launch new products or services to market when you create marketing campaigns and promotions and in your inbound and outbound marketing endeavors.
After reviewing our brand positioning guide, you should understand what brand positioning is, why it’s essential, and how it impacts your business. You’ve also learned that developing a strong brand positioning statement and testing it with groups of customers requires adequate time and resources.
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