Brand Positioning: Definition, Benefits and Risks, and Impressive Examples
Brand positioning puts the company in a unique place in the market and consumers' minds. Get its clear understanding to introduce it in the company development.
Written by RamotionJul 13, 202215 min read
Last updated: Nov 3, 2023
Do you know that branding has become a top priority in a company's development these days? Recent studies show that the way customers see you is the main factor in choosing you from the oversaturated market.
Strong brand identity means everything for companies. It assists in driving engagement, generating conversions, conquering new territories, and finding approaches to improve the company's products, services, and overall presence. However, creating one is a true challenge.
Gone are the days when the logo and catchy slogan could do this alone. Every professional brand positioning agency states that a company (regardless of age and niche) must consider multiple things to shape the correct perception of its business. This includes a brand promise, unique value proposition, mission, philosophy, visual presentation, and last but not least, brand positioning.
The latter has taken on added importance because connecting with your target audience requires a significant adaptation of a brand-driven mentality nowadays. Let us break this concept down to understand what it is and how you can introduce it in the company's development.
Definition of Brand Positioning
What Is Brand Positioning?
Brand position is an intricate and a bit abstract term. Some see it as the place company wants to occupy in the target audience's mind, while others consider it as a process that allows establishing a company as something worth thinking about in general.
Whatever definition feels reasonable to you and your brand development ideology, you need to understand that brand position helps the company occupy its space in the market and get closer to the audience. It is based on several core features, among which brand positioning statement occupies top priority.
What Is a Brand Positioning Statement?
The positioning statement is a phrase that has a deep meaning and carries out a vital function - it intends to create a unique niche for your brand in the minds of consumers within a category. It recognizes the company's core differentiating benefit and clearly describes what your company does and for whom. It underlies all marketing efforts and guides the company during the decision-making process.
Every successful brand may offer an excellent brand positioning statement example. Consider Volvo. This colossal multinational car-manufacturing corporation has a diverse portfolio of goods. Nevertheless, whatever product it is, it always prioritizes families and targets parents. Therefore, their position statement is "keeping your family safe." Sticking to consistent execution and delivery on that has made them synonymous with safety, allowing them to own the hearts and minds of their target audience in a particular niche.
Another case in point is "Just Do It." I bet you have already guessed who owns that. Nike's commitment to innovation has made it the sports niche leader.
A strong brand positioning statement brings a lot to the company. It explains how you benefit the target market, defines the language, and gives a consistent voice to the company along the way. It sits in customers' minds and reminds them about itself when the right time comes. Finally, it is used as a guide to ensure all content and marketing strategies correlate with the brand's mission and vision and stay consistent. Let us consider other reasons why it is essential for businesses nowadays.
Brand Positioning Importance
The strong positioning of the brand stands behind the success of all company's endeavors. It should not be taken for granted. Consider these valid reasons why creating a strong company's brand position is crucial. It:
- Gives a clear understanding of who you are and what you sell.
- Creates clarity around who you serve.
- Identifies where you fit in the sea of competition.
- Points out what makes your business unique.
- Articulates how the company and its culture and ideology differ from the others.
- Ensures transparency in your value.
- Justifies the pricing policy making it reasonable for the target audience.
- Cuts through the clutter of noise caused by marketing and sales messages at every corner.
- Offers easy decisions for target customers who are sick and tired of browsing through a dozen identical options.
- Delineates your brand's uniqueness and helps the marketing team to create copy that represents the company's philosophy and values and, at the same time, resonates with the audience.
- Helps to create a carefully curated brand story and amplifies the storytelling experience by setting a solid foundation.
- helps to judge every brand decision correctly.
- Influences interactions with each of its stakeholders.
- Helps to deliver the message more efficiently.
- Underlies all marketing strategies and tactics to maintain focus.
- Ensures marketing strategy and efforts are aligned with the brand.
A strong brand position defines every strong brand. However, the importance of its implementation lies not only in these reasons but also in its benefits - they translate into a company's stability in the ever-changing market, financial success, and life extension.
Benefits to Create Strong Brand Positioning
Effective brand positioning comes with numerous benefits. At the top is the reward of securing the right place in the market that ensures the company's stability in a high-competitive environment. Other advantages are:
- It captures widespread attention.
- It shapes brand value proposition.
- It drives marketing strategies.
- It reminds the audience about the benefits of buying from you.
- It reinforces relationships with the target customer.
- It builds a strong reputation.
- It strengthens your connection with your audience.
- It amplifies marketing communications opening some unique opportunities to reach the audience and drag them into the sales funnel.
- It builds a stable customer base and cultivates brand advocates who will spread the word about your company's offering.
- It allows the company to compete on factors other than prices, such as quality, service, and customer care.
- It invokes strong positive emotions.
- It increases the brand value that helps to find investors.
- It convinces new customers to try your products.
- It adds weight to sales conversations.
- It creates loyal employees, reduces employee turnover, and saves money on talent hunting.
Risks of Creating Brand Positioning
Developing brand positioning comes with certain risks. For instance, You may end up with no positioning by trying to own two or more frames of reference with an ambitious brand positioning statement. You may scare away part of your market segment by establishing the wrong positioning.
You may be associated with negatively correlated attributes.
Some say that having no brand positioning is the biggest mistake a company can make these days. However, hundreds of cases of brand positioning went wrong and brought drastic outcomes to the company. This usually happens when a company does not understand its audience's needs, wants, expectations and behaviors or takes this process lightly.
On top of that, there are situations when brand positioning is not decided or constantly changed. This leads to total market ignorance of the brand's products because messaging changes too quickly for potential customers to grasp a brand's position.
Types of Brand Positioning Strategy
Consumers face a myriad of brands every single day. To propel your enterprise forward and have a solid chance to stand against the competition in a harsh economic climate, it is vital to create a proper perception of your company and product in the marketplace. For this, you need to explore, identify, and refine your distinctiveness through a brand positioning strategy.
The good thing is that there are a dozen well-established brand positioning strategies. Some are designed to help startups, whereas others are only suitable for huge companies. Some of them position your brand as the leader, some as one of its kind, and others as the most popular. Consider these standard options:
- Leader Positioning. It represents the company as a leader in the niche and supports it with strong evidence, both qualitative and quantitative.
- Customer Service Positioning. It is centered around providing the best service experience ever for users across all distribution channels.
- The Most Convenient Product Positioning. It proves to customers that the company has the most convenient product by highlighting corresponding qualities and attributes.
- The Most Popular Product Positioning. It plays around the brand's popularity and how it fits into the culture and modern mainstream.
- Cost-Based Positioning. It focuses on the most affordable option.
- Quality-Based Positioning. It focuses on quality with a higher premium price by emphasizing exceptional features of the product or company.
- Differentiation Positioning. It capitalizes on a product's innovative qualities that starkly contrast the traditional competition.
- Role-focused Positioning. It targets a particular function in the organization by reaching a cohort of people.
- Competitors Positioning. It compares your brand to your competitors and highlights your product's advantages.
Create Your Brand Positioning Strategy
To create an effective brand strategy, it is crucial to nail its essence. Whatever type you choose, it has the same set of core elements that underlie the brand positioning framework.
What Are the Elements of Brand Positioning?
A few key elements cannot be skipped or circumnavigated in evolving a brand's position without significant repercussions. They are:
- the audience,
- relevant differentiation,
- emotional connection,
- and accessibility.
A brand positioning statement should be formed when all these aspects are clarified and defined. It echoes and intertwines with the advertisement slogans but does not necessarily sound identical. It is only for internal use to guide the marketing strategies and campaigns, and impact decisions that may change customers' perception of a brand.
Elements of Brand Positioning Statement
Along with defining brand positioning, it is vital to mention key components of the brand positioning statement. They are
- target audience (description of the core prospect),
- the frame of reference (a niche in which the brand competes),
- point of difference (compelling and aspirational advantage of the company or its product),
- proof that the brand delivers what it promises.
Note, when creating the statement, it is highly recommended to mention the brand name. Only well-established companies with successful brand positioning can omit their names because their brand identity and reputation do all the heavy lifting in creating a connection between the statement and brand.
12 Basic Steps of Developing Your Own Brand Positioning Strategy
Developing a brand positioning strategy takes time, effort, total commitment, and high devotion. In most cases, it requires a professional brand agency that navigates through all obstacles and unlocks the company's hidden potential.
However, you can still do everything on your own. Consider the 12-step routine that gives digital entrepreneurs and startups a clear sense of direction when building and implementing brand positioning strategy.
Step 1 – Conduct market research to identify your competitors.
Step 2 – Investigate your target audience to determine their preferences, needs, wants, and expectations.
Step 3 – Clarify essential elements of brand and product such as attributes, benefits, personalities, what it says about you, and how it makes customers feel. Use a well-established brand positioning matrix for that.
Step 4 – Define the company's unique value proposition.
Step 5 - Build a brand positioning map and framework.
Step 6 – Develop several positioning statements to find the right option.
Step 7 – Decide on the brand positioning model.
Step 8 – Deliver value to the market based on the model and strategy.
Step 9 – Conduct surveys and collect feedback from your customers and employees to analyze the effectiveness of positioning.
Step 10 – Do A/B tests to define what best resonates with the target audience.
Step 11 – Put everyone on the same page and educate customer-facing employees about the positioning statement so that they embody the core values and play the role of the brand's ambassadors.
Step 12 - Continue to evaluate the market. If it is required, re-visit your positioning to tighten the focus.
Best Practices to Build Strong Brand Position
To make customers associate your brand with your positioning, it is not enough to follow a positioning strategy. It is also vital to adopt best practices and tips shared by professionals. Here are some of them:
- Make your positioning statement specific. Do not try to appease everyone. Do not try to be everything to everybody.
- Prove your customers why you are better than others. Own your white space.
- Carefully think through positioning language. Be straightforward and to the point, and avoid the latest industry buzzword.
- Stay realistic and avoid being too aspirational.
- Leave your positioning and narrative open to the future, but stay focused on the present.
- Use and get data. Encourage feedback from customers and solicit criticism from employees.
- Run regular competitive analyses to review brand positioning.
- Make the brand positioning statement credible and believable to serve as a filter for the brand decision-making process.
- Draw a clear, distinctive, and meaningful picture of the brand in one statement.
Famous Brand Positioning Examples
As we have noted, an excellent example of brand positioning statement can be found in every niche. Let us consider the top five companies with powerful brand positioning and inspiring statements from different categories.
Apple has provided us with one of the great turnaround stories of the past three decades. From the brink of collapse to a company worth more than $1trn, it has gone through numerous difficulties. Today it is the leading company in the tech industry. How have they achieved this despite all the obstacles in their path?
In 1997, Steve Jobs realized the significance and importance of a well-established and regularly nurtured brand identity. Therefore, he clearly defined Apple brand positioning around three core tenets: simplicity, creativity, and humanity. And so was born, 'Think different,' the iconic positioning statement.
This legendary statement declared the brand with the most innovative products in its niche and a certain focus on technological research and advancement. It was communicated in all campaigns and distribution channels and stayed consistent through products and generations.
As a result, today, the company occupies the top charts, whereas the team reaps benefits from the differentiation position strategy and the Leader positioning strategy simultaneously.
For those looking for high-quality drinks that bring joy and happiness, the first name that will come into their minds will be Coca-Cola.
The success of this iconic American multinational beverage corporation majorly lies in consistently following the same brand strategy for more than a century. Not only has it retained many of its historical design features in modern glass bottles, but most importantly, it has used the same pillars in the brand positioning statement. As Coca-Сola puts it, taste and refreshment are at the functional level, and happiness, inclusiveness, and togetherness are at the emotional.
The company uses authentic storytelling to celebrate the experience of drinking an ice-cold Coca‑Cola. Unlike others, it regularly changes its slogan and tagline. It has already been "Delicious and Refreshing," "Things Go Better with Cola," "Refresh Yourself," "Thirst Knows No Season," "Always Coca-Cola," "America's Real Choice," "Make It Real," "The Coke Side of Life," "Open Happiness"; now it is "Taste the Feeling." However, coca cola brand positioning statement has always stayed the same.
This approach keeps the product integral to the culture and community. It underscores commitment to consumer choice and offers a product with an emotional constituent and value message that perfectly suit the current audience's taste, lifestyle, and diet.
"Just Do It" – end of story.
Nike brand positioning is one of the market's most popular, stable, and solid. The leading reason they are who they are today is that company is perfectly aware of who they are, why they are in the market, how their product benefits their target audience and what message delivers this the best.
Its brand identity revolves around the idea of helping athletes and people push the limits of what is possible. This desire to achieve something more remarkable is integral to Nike's heritage. It is seen in positioning statements across all campaigns, product launches, and celebrity endorsements.
Their famous tagline holds lots of weight and inspires people all around the World. It maintains the company's position in the market, and most importantly, it serves as a driving engine of the brand and all its new ventures through generations.
Starbucks brand positioning is a vivid representative of customer-based strategy. This means that you will find the best customer experience ever in their restaurant chain. That is not all. Not only do they focus on consumers, but they also praise their employees, turning their loyal staff into the brand's ambassadors.
Their mission statement echoes their brand positioning, "One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time." They constantly gather customer feedback and conduct friendly chats to capture the overall mood in a casual and informal environment to keep providing their pleasurable and relaxing customer experience.
Branding has been the pivotal element of Starbucks strategy over many years. And it has paid back a hundredfold. Today this American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roasters is located in 80 countries across the globe and boasts an average annual revenue of nearly US$29 billion.
Tesla leads the technology industry with the most innovative products for individuals who want to stay on the natural side and advocate "green" ways of living. First, they popularized solar panel manufacturing and lithium-ion battery energy. Then, they introduced electric vehicles.
Although there is nothing new in that, multiple car manufacturers have vehicles with an electric engine in their portfolio. Nevertheless, one could not help but notice that Tesla has become a well-established synonym for this niche. How have they managed to do this? The answer lies in a clever brand positioning strategy.
Tesla brand positioning is centered around the environmental trend. Unlike other brands that treat electric cars as an option, Tesla has put a 100% focus on it, thereby moving along with those who believe being an environmentalist is a lifestyle choice, not an option.
Their brand idea –"the electric vehicle designed for our future, with shockingly high performance and stylish designs" - is supported by well-conducted marketing campaigns and top-notch customer experience. They update the core engine software regularly to enhance the consumer experience and meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of the target market.
As a result, the company has killed two birds with one stone. They occupy emotional space in the consumer's heart and, at the same time, rational space in the consumer's mind.
Brand positioning is a crucial first step in cementing the conceptual place you want to occupy in the mind of your target customer. It helps the company own its particular market space and be seen as an expert with something unique to offer.
When done right, it brings numerous benefits. For instance, it takes targeting a step further, amplifies marketing strategies, solidifies efforts across channels, ensures tactics are the most effective, makes the company work as a single unit, and just brings revenue.
However, with great power comes great risks. The negligent attitude to this process causes wrong positioning, negatively correlated attributes with the brand name, or even a fiasco of the entire venture. Therefore, creating strong brand positioning is a true challenge. Though, do not leave this idea because many successful companies have faced it with music.
How? They put enormous efforts, commitment, and devotion into this venture, collaborate with a professional branding agency, implement all 12 steps featured above, adopt the best practices, get hints from real-life examples, and never stop improving their brand positioning strategies.