How to Position Your Brand Like the Pros (in 7 Steps)
What you believe about your business and what your customers think of it are not always the same. Here's how to fix that.
If you could buy any car right now, no matter the cost, which one would it be?
Got it? Good.
Now, there’s a reason you chose that car. It doesn’t matter what that reason is. What’s important here is that you thought of that car first.
But what if I told you the company that makes the car you picked actually influenced you to choose it?
The car company knows what you value most about a car. They then used that knowledge to build an intentional perception of their car in your mind.
This is a brand positioning strategy in action.
Does this sound complicated? It isn’t.
It really comes down to this:
How prospects see your business, product, or service before they buy from you often determines whether they ever will.
People are getting an impression of your business right now. Whether it’s from your website, an ad, or your office space, they’re sizing you up and forming an opinion.
The impression you’re making right now is building your position in the marketplace. That position will pull people closer to you or push them further away.
What Is a Brand Positioning Strategy?
A brand positioning strategy helps a business create a desired perception in the marketplace. This includes how consumers see it versus competitors.
Many businesses think building a reputation is something you do by serving customers. While that’s true, there are many things you can do to influence how your audience sees you. Developing a favorable position can help you attract the kinds of customers you want.
Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of a brand positioning strategy. Your competitors probably haven’t heard of it either. This gives you a unique opportunity to create a competitive advantage.
Brand Signals Strengthen Your Positioning
Just because you want people to have a certain perspective of your brand doesn’t mean they will.
For example, many businesses advertise “quality work” or “great service”. It’s safe to say most customers want those things. But making those claims alone doesn’t mean buyers will flock to you.
To build your position, you must analyze your industry, competitors, and target market. Only then can you create the perception you want people to have of your business.
It’s a widely-held belief that you reap what you sow. I believe that’s true, and it’s certainly the case when it comes to brand positioning.
To reap the benefits of brand positioning (to become a premium brand), you’ve got to sow the right seeds. Those seeds come in the form of brand signals.
Brand signals are any sensory triggers that create a bond between you and your audience. Most signals are communicated through brand messaging and a visual identity. These should be designed to resonate with the types of customers you want to attract.
A brand positioning strategy also helps you reinforce promises you make to customers. And it’s a great way to keep your brand relevant as the marketplace changes.
Creating a Brand Positioning Strategy in 7 Steps
In this section, I’ll break a brand positioning strategy down into simple steps.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Position
Whether you know it or not, you already have a position in the marketplace. The first step in the process is to figure out what your current position is.
You can start with what you already know about your business.
- How do you see your business compared to competitors?
- What unique characteristics set you apart?
Be objective. The more honest this self-assessment is, the more successful your brand positioning strategy will be.
Your current customers are the most valuable source of information in this step. Refer to surveys and customer satisfaction scores. (If you haven’t been doing any of this, it’s time to get started!)
Then, answer these questions:
- Are there any recurring themes or trends?
- Do you see any similarities among your customer demographics?
- Which of your products or services are most popular?
Once you have this data, compare how people see you now with how you’d like to be seen.
Does the information you discover align with the brand positioning you want to have?
Step 2: Assess Your Competitors
In the previous step, you learned a lot about your business. Now it’s time to analyze your competitors.
To keep it simple, start with the top three or four. Trying to analyze too many will lead to confusion and make this step more complicated than it needs to be.
Look at your competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and reviews. Work through the same questions you used to self-assess in step one. Make sure to include these:
- Do they have a structure or tiers for offers?
- What are they known for?
- What marketing tactics are working for them?
- What benefit claims and promises do they make?
Step 3: Create a Positioning Map.
The goal in this step is to determine the various market positions that exist in your industry. You can do this by mapping, listing, or drawing a tree.
(I have provided a sample map template, see below.)
List all the products and services you offer as well as those of your competitors. Next, list at all the features and benefits of each one. Finally, list the price points types of customers that might buy them.
Place competitors on a brand positioning map using 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 your brand positioning map, a picture will take shape. You’ll see similarities between companies and product gaps. This may give you an opportunity to create new offers to fill those gaps.
Feel free to redefine each axis on the positioning map with attributes relevant to your industry. The ones I have used are just for example.
Remember: the more accurate your data, the more accurate your positioning will be.
Step 4: List Benefit Claims
Why should someone choose your company over all the others?
Make a list of everything you believe you can do better than anyone else. Use the information gathered in the previous steps to come up with ideas.
Don’t guess too much. You should already be able to support your benefit claims. Focus on what makes you different from everyone else.
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’ll use this information to create your brand positioning statement. (See Step 6)
Step 5: Make Sure You Can Deliver.
Look over the list you created in step 4. Can you be absolutely certain that you can deliver on your “reasons to buy”?
This is the most important step in the brand positioning strategy process.
Because research has shown that delivery of a product or service is the number one reason your customers will leave you to buy from a competitor.
Here are some questions to help you:
- Does the product or service do what it’s supposed to do every single time, without error?
- Can people get it when they need it?
- Can you show that the product has the highest quality possible? To know this, you must first know how quality is defined in your industry.
For physical products, quality is usually tied to materials and manufacturing processes. If you’re in a service industry, expertise is the primary quality marker. Premium brands always strive for the highest quality, no matter the cost.
Your existing customers have shown you what their expectations are. It’s likely that new customers have the same values.
Step 6: Create Your Brand Positioning Statement
Now you’re ready to craft a positioning statement. A brand positioning statement is a summary of what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and who you help. It also helps you stay on-point when crafting your brand strategy and communication.
Here are some tips on drafting a quality brand positioning statement:
Focus on the target customer. As you write your brand positioning statement, take note of how people relate to what you do.
Too often, businesses use industry terms and jargon in their mission statements and marketing. But people outside of your industry — your customers — don’t understand those terms.
Instead, use their words to describe what you do, not yours.
Create a sentence or two that describes your target customer. Who are they? What do they want from your business? Again, the information you’ve collected in the previous steps will help you answer these questions.
Establish your unique place within the market. In this part of the process, you get to decide where you fit in among your competitors. Take into account your company’s unique strengths and offers.
Just because you tell people how they should perceive your brand does not mean they will agree. That’s why consistency in brand communication is so critical.
In fact, consistent brand messaging can increase revenue by as much as 33%.
Leverage your strongest benefit. Use the strongest benefits you offer to make an impact in your positioning statement. Make sure it’s unique and unlike anything your competitors say.
Don’t be shy. If you don’t brag on yourself, no one is going to do it for you.
Offer Proof. Make sure to provide proof — beyond a reasonable doubt — that you can deliver what you promise. Simply saying something like “guaranteed” at the end can do the job. Just be sure you can back it up.
Statistical data is another form of proof. Emphasizing the quality of a tried-and-true process is an example of providing evidence.
Check your work. Go over your positioning statement to make sure you’re comfortable with it. You may have to tweak it several times before it feels right.
Don’t promote it until you’ve created the final version. Doing so will only confuse your target market. Remember, consistency is key.
Step 7: Own It
Congratulations! Your new brand positioning strategy will transform the way you do business. This final step never ends. You must now take the positioning you’ve created and put it to work.
Keep it front and center. It should serve as the compass for everything you do.
This begins in-house. Everyone in your organization should know your positioning statement. This will reinforce your business’s mission and carry over into the quality of your work.
Use it in all your marketing and advertising. Even your sales and customer service processes should reflect your brand positioning statement.
Use the 7-steps I’ve given you in this article to:
- Evaluate your current position in the marketplace
- Create the ideal position that aligns with your brand
- Establish that position with your target audience
Premium brands know how important brand positioning is to the success of their company. Now, you do too.
Until next time,
P.S. Want to re-position your brand? Re-positioning is much harder to do than creating a new one. That is why we developed a FREE opportunity for you to get help with your brand identity. CLICK HERE for more.