If you could buy any car right now, no matter the cost, which one would it be?
Now, there is a reason you chose that car. It doesn’t matter why. The point is you thought of that car first.
What if I told you the company that makes the car you picked influenced you to choose it?
The car brand knows that automobiles with certain qualities attract specific people. So, they created a perception of their car that would appeal to the type of customers they wanted. Since you thought of their car, you are in that customer group.
This illustration is a brand positioning strategy in action.
Brand positioning is crucial for businesses because:
It is what happens before the sale that makes the sale.
The same concept applies to your business too.
People are getting an impression of your company right now. Everything that relates to your business helps them develop an opinion of it. Your website, ads, even your office space. People use it all to size you up and compare you to competitors.
Your brand position is the impression your target audience has of your business. A brand’s position attracts customers or pushes them away.
In this post, you will learn:
- what a brand positioning strategy is
- how to establish a unique position in the marketplace
- how to create a brand positioning strategy
What Is a Brand Positioning Strategy?
A brand’s position is the mental image or impression that consumers have of a company. A brand positioning strategy is an intentional process. The strategy allows the company to influence the audience’s perception.
A brand positioning strategy makes your business more competitive. It also helps a company target a customer segment that is more likely to buy its products. To do this, the brand must align the product’s benefits with the audience’s preferences.
Positioning and Brand Signals
Just because you want people to have a particular impression or image of your brand doesn’t mean they will. So, you must use specific tactics to influence their perspective.
Brand signals are indicators or triggers that prompt consumers to think of a brand. These signals are experiential. The purpose of brand signals is to communicate a message about the brand to the audience. Collectively, brand signals help the audience form an image of the company.
Brand signals promote trust. The goal is to use brand signals to build a relationship with the target market. Social media, websites, and blogs are examples of channels used to communicate brand signals.
Let’s go back to the car example we started with. You chose a specific car for a reason. Maybe you like its design. Perhaps the car brand itself imbues certain qualities that you find attractive. Whatever those qualities are, the car brand uses brand signals to tell you that their car has them.
Brand signals penetrate the audience’s psyche over time. But it takes a while for the positioning message to sink in, so consistency is essential.
Brand Positioning Strategy in 7 Steps
In this section, I will break a brand positioning strategy down into seven simple steps.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Position
Whether you know it or not, you already have a marketplace position. So the first step in a brand positioning strategy is to determine your current position.
You can start with what you already know.
- How do you see your business compared to competitors?
- What unique characteristics set you apart?
Your current customer base is a valuable source of information in this step. First, refer to surveys and customer satisfaction scores. If you don’t have this information, call them up and ask.
After you have interviewed customers, 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?
Once you have this data, compare how people see you now (point A) with the perception you want to have (point B).
What must you do to get from point A to point B?
Step 2: Assess Your Competitors
You can’t know how to compete until you understand what you are up against. So, competitor analysis is the next step in a brand positioning strategy.
Start with at least five but no more than ten top competitors. Next, look at their websites, social media profiles, and reviews. Finally, work through the same questions you used to self-assess in step one.
Include these as well:
- What are they known for?
- Do they position themselves as the cheap, premium, or mid-range option?
- 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 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 your brand positioning map, a picture will take shape. You will see similarities between companies and product gaps. You may discover opportunities to create new revenue streams with new product offers.
Choose axis attributes relevant to your industry for the brand positioning map.
Remember: the more accurate your data, the more precise your positioning will be.
Step 4: List Benefit Claims
Why should someone choose your company over all the others?
A key to all brand positioning is to establish a unique offer. Of course, this offer won’t appeal to everyone. But the goal is to align the benefit claims with the type 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)
Step 5: Make Sure You Can Deliver.
Look over the list you created in step 4. Can you be confident that you can deliver each benefit?
Delivery is the most critical step in the brand positioning strategy process.
Because delivery is the main reason, customers leave a brand to buy from a competitor. Availability, convenience, and speed impact delivery.
Here are some questions that will help clarify delivery:
- 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?
- Can you show that the product has the highest quality possible? To know this, you must first understand how quality is defined in your industry.
For physical products, quality is usually tied to materials and manufacturing processes. If you are in a service industry, expertise is the primary quality marker. Premium brands always strive for the highest quality, no matter the cost.
Step 6: Create Your Brand Positioning Statement
Now you are ready to draft a brand positioning statement. A brand positioning statement summarizes what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and who you help.
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.
Many businesses use industry terms and jargon in their mission statements and marketing. But people outside 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? The information 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 is why consistency in brand communication is so critical.
Leverage your strongest benefit. Use the most valuable benefits you offer 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. Make sure to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you can deliver what you promise. Simply offering a guarantee can do the job. 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.
Check your work. Go over your positioning statement to make sure it is accurate. You may have to tweak it several times before it feels right.
Don’t promote it until you have created the final version. Doing so will only confuse your target market. Remember, consistency is vital.
Step 7: Own It
Your new brand positioning strategy will transform the way you do business. But, this final step never ends. You must now put the brand positioning strategy to work.
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.
Use the 7-steps I have given you in this article to:
- Evaluate your current position in the marketplace
- Create a position that aligns with your philosophy and target audience
- Communicate it consistently
Until next time,
Learn more about brand strategy.
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