Brand positioning

How to write a brand positioning statement that demands attention and sets you apart

Brand positioning is something that companies need to think about during the strategy and research aspects of a business development project. Ideally, an understanding of your brand position should be something that your company achieves when it’s preparing to achieve recognition in the marketplace.

At Fabrik, we use brand positioning statement templates to help our clients figure out what their “USP” (Unique selling point) is, and what makes them stand out from the competition. Usually, once you know what makes you different from other competitors in your industry, you’ll be able to start pulling attention to that concept, and earning the interest of your target market.

Ideally, brand positioning is a solution that can be used to identify what makes you different from other brands in the eyes and minds of your customer. Today’s average customer is overwhelmed by a concept known as “choice overload“. In other words, we’re offered hundreds of solutions for every individual problem we might have, and we don’t know how to choose the best outcome.

Brand positioning is a concept that has the potential to highlight specific brands, and simplify decision-making in an overly-saturated market. The right brand positioning solutions place the needs of the customer at the foundation of all company development, then builds upon aspirations, needs, and a deeper understanding of the competition.

In simple terms, your brand positioning statement is your way to prove that you’re “not like all the rest”. It enables your customer to make (the right) purchasing choice, helps you to stand out, and ensures a better experience for everyone. So, let’s take a look at how you can do brand positioning right.

What is brand positioning?

Before we get into the details of positioning, and how you can craft the right brand positioning strategy for your company, it’s important to have a specific brand positioning definition to work from.

Though today, it seems like a fundamental aspect of marketing, brand positioning hasn’t been around forever. In fact, it was first introduced in 1969 by a man called “Jack Trout”, in an article written for Industrial Magazine. The strategy was then popularised further in a best-selling book that spoke all about positioning.

This new book outlined the fact that brand positioning is a way of situating your company in the minds and hearts of your ideal customers. Also known as “positioning strategy”, a brand positioning statement aims to identify and retain a specific segment of the marketing niche for a brand, service, or product, using several strategies including promotions, packaging, pricing, distribution, and competition.

Brand positioning

The goal of brand positioning, as the image above suggests, is to examine numerous factors surrounding your business, and use the data that you collect to create a unique impression in your customer’s mind. Specifically, you should be ensuring that your customer associates something desirable with your brand that can be distinguished from the rest of the marketplace.

One very important thing that we like to remind our clients of, here at Fabrik, is that brand positioning isn’t something that you choose to have, even though you can help to distinguish it. Brand positioning happens whether or not your company is proactive in developing your own position.

Simply put, your customers are going to develop a specific idea of your brand whether you like it or not. However, if you can take a forward-looking, intelligent approach to crafting your brand positioning strategy, then you might be able to positively influence the outcome of customer opinions.

The most efficient and effective brand positioning statements will define the four most critical elements of your marketing campaign. These include:

  1. What makes your product special: In other words, your definition of the value that you can provide to your customer. For instance, if you were an architect, you wouldn’t just tell people that you offer blueprints – instead, you’d say you design buildings. Restaurants don’t just “make food”, they provide culinary experiences.
  2. Your target market: The people you’re trying to sell to should be a fundamental aspect of what influences everything you do. Ask yourself who you’re trying to appeal to with your product, what they’re like. Remember not just to think about what they want, but also what they don’t want – which things you need to avoid.
  3. The competitive environment: Your positioning statement also needs to indicate where you are in the marketplace. In other words, compared to your competitors, what can you offer that’s better or worse? Are you the best value for money, the highest quality, or an innovator?
  4. Your brand mantra: This boils down to the promises that you make as a company, and why people should believe in you. Make sure that the way you define your brand is authentic, believable, and engaging.

Your brand positioning definition: What brand positioning IS NOT

Now that you have a basic idea of what brand positioning is, it’s worth drawing attention to what it isn’t. The reason for this is that it’s very easy to get confused when you’re creating a new brand, and assume that company taglines or slogans are the same thing as a brand positioning statement.

Remember that positioning statements are intended for internal use – to guide the operating and marketing segments of your companies in the right direction. Your brand positioning helps you to guide the operating and marketing decisions of your company, and make key decisions that impact the way that your customers perceive your brand.

Frequently, executive teams turn to their marketing staff to create a brand positioning statement, and they’re disappointed by the results. The reason for this is that these people don’t actually know what they’re looking for. Try to remember that a brand positioning strategy isn’t:

  • An elevator pitch: A simple, and persuasive sales pitch that convinces people to buy from you. Though brand positioning statements can help you to create the right elevator pitch, that doesn’t mean they’re one and the same.
  • A tagline or slogan: Again, a slogan or tagline for your business can be created from an understanding of your brand positioning statement, your brand standards, and your essence as a company, but slogans and positioning are two different things.
  • Shown to clients: While you want customers to understand your brand position, you should be portraying it through your marketing and actions, not through a print-out of your brand positioning statement that clients can take away with them.
  • Developed in a vacuum: Finally, though you might think that you can knock out a brand positioning statement within a few hours in a closed room, the truth is that you’ll need to discuss your brand with your customers, employees, and do comprehensive research on your competitors to get a good result.

Brand positioning examples: Designing a brand positioning strategy

You can see brand positioning examples strewn throughout the online and offline world today. They’re represented in the “about” pages of a business, their marketing, and their story. For instance, back in 2001, when sold books almost exclusively, their positioning statement was:

At Fabrik, when we conduct a brand positioning exercise, we help our customers to seek out answers to specific questions. The more you know about your company and where it is in the current marketplace, the more effective your brand positioning strategy will be.

Typically, this means looking at:

  • Competitors: The other brands that are competing for your market share, and the people you need to analyse to inform your strategy.
  • Positioning: This means looking at your position in relation to your competitors, examining their benefits and attributes, and any opportunities to help you shine over potential threats.
  • Points of parity: Associations that can help you to negate competitors’ beneficial attributes and draw attention to your own credentials.
  • Brand mantra: The essence of your brand and what makes you special.

For most businesses, creating a successful brand positioning strategy means looking at the “Who”, “What”, and “Why”.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning strategy: Looking at “Who”

Above, we’ve already mentioned that a good brand positioning statement starts with understanding your competitors, but they aren’t the only “who” worth thinking about. You also need to answer the question of who your product is for, to ensure you’re starting off on the right foot.

When you place the “who”, of your business towards the beginning of your brand positioning statement, you put the customer first, and eliminate a lot of potential problems. Think about who you’re trying to serve before you begin doing anything else, and you’ll move your perspective from one that’s all about what your company can do, to one that focuses on what you can do for your customer.

Try segmenting different audience sections and drawing lines around who you consider to be your ideal customer, and who might not be right for your business. The more specific you can be with your “who”, the better.

Brand positioning strategy: Looking at “What”

Once you understand both your competitors, and your customers, you’ll be able to start thinking about your product. Consider the benefit that it provides to your customers, and how it’s different to what’s currently on the market. Place yourself into the shoes of your customer and think about what you can enable them to achieve that they might not be able to accomplish without you.

For instance, Google promise their users a chance to search out answers to their questions that offer simple, and valuable results.

Try to be as brutal as possible when you’re looking at the “what”. In other words, be aware of what your competitors are currently doing better than you, and think carefully about how you can improve the experience that you give your customer so that your solution becomes more compelling.

It’s also important to make sure that you’re tackling a real pain point for your target market, rather than offering a solution to an imaginary problem. Remember that pain for a customer translates into demand, and demand is crucial to any business.

Brand positioning strategy: Looking at “Why”

Finally, the “Why” section of your brand positioning statement is where your company mantra comes in. In fact, the “why” is perhaps the most compelling part of your strategy. This area focuses not only on “why” your company has decided to do what it’s doing, but why your customers should trust you, and choose you over your competitors.

Crafting a mission statement, manifesto, and backstory that tells your customers simply who you’re trying to help, and what you’re trying to do is useful – but it’s lacking soul. The truth is that today’s prospective customers need a reason to believe that whatever you’re offering can deliver a real, tangible benefit to them.

Up until this point, your aim has been to make promises to your customer about what you can achieve. The “why” comes with giving your customers a reason to believe that you can keep your promises. If you can show your customers your value, and provide that value all the way through their interaction with you, then you build a strong brand.

Writing your brand positioning statement

By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what a brand positioning statement is, what it tries to accomplish, and why you need to create one. That means that it’s about time we start looking at how you can craft your own brand positioning statement.

For most companies, the process starts with a simple sentence, riddled with blank spaces. That sentence might look something like this:

[Brand Name] offers a to [Blank] in the [Blank] industry. Unlike other brands, we provide [Blank] to our customers. We can do this by [Blank], [Blank], and [Blank].

Brand positioning

Filling in those blanks means asking yourself a few simple and crucial questions. For instance:

Who is my target audience?

We touched on this above in the “who” section, but it’s time to focus exclusively on the people that you believe are ready for whatever your brand has to offer. Think about whose problems you can solve best, who should be excluded from that group, and how you can define your perfect customer with a specific persona. Remember, you need to be precise. People want to see themselves in your company, and the more focused your brand positioning statement is, the more likely that the right people will feel as though they’re being “spoken to”.

What’s my market and USP?

In your brand positioning statement, you’ll need to outline your competition, the market you’re competing in, and what makes you different. Your Unique Selling Proposition permeates the language of your brand positioning statement, and helps you to define yourself within the existing space. In simple terms, it’s the one thing that you can offer that your competitors can’t. It’s the common point between what you do best, and what your customers need but can’t find (yet).

What are my benefits?

Though the benefits of your brand will usually come to light when you’re looking at your USP, it’s also worth noting that your company probably has more than one benefit to offer your customers. For instance, you might have the cheapest high-definition televisions on the market, but you also offer speedy shipping, incredible customer service, and simple purchasing options. Try to draw focus to what the benefits of your business are, and how you can build on them.

Why should my customers believe in me?

Usually, any prospective client researching your company will be searching for hints about what’s “in it for him”, if he does business with you. While the “benefit” and “USP” aspects of your company are the obvious answers to that question, it’s up to you to make sure that your target audience believes that you can keep your promises.

The truth is that crafting a brand positioning statement isn’t always easy. It requires a lot of research, the development of some crucial insights, and potentially several re-writes too. Even after you’ve answered those essential questions above, you might need to edit your draft by answering further questions, such as:

  • Have I set my brand apart from the competition?
  • What makes me memorable?
  • How can I promote trust?
  • Have I allowed enough flexibility for future growth?
  • How am I prompting my client to action?

Refining your brand positioning statement

Usually, although the amount of research and thought that goes into a brand positioning statement is often significant, the actual result that you end up with should be a very concise concept that distils everything you’re trying to achieve into a single sentence.

This sounds pretty intimidating, but knowing exactly what your company is, and what you’re offering to the world around you is essential to making sure that you’re always on the right track. After all, in this constantly growing and changing marketplace, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals, and your path, if you don’t have a clear roadmap ahead of you.

Brand positioning

When you have a first draft of your brand positioning statement, you should be able to refine and polish it so that it becomes stronger, more memorable, and a greater resource for your entire company. Here are a few ways that you can solidify your brand positioning statement:

1. Make sure you’re specific

It’s tempting to be vague when it comes to running a business. You don’t want to lose an opportunity for business from any audience, so you try to make sure that you’re “pleasing everyone”. Unfortunately, if you want to be truly successful, then you need to narrow everything down, including your idea of the customer you’re looking for. Don’t just say that you’re a clothing store, tell your company that you’re a high-end formal clothing store that designs attire for business men and women in the executive space.

2. Get to know your customer

As above, simply saying that you sell clothes to people isn’t enough in a great brand positioning statement. You need to avoid calling your customers “people”, and instead, focus on the specifics. For instance, if you sell clothes to business people, do you specifically target executives in conference and meeting environments. What about your business makes your clothes more appealing for the people in those situations?

3. Remove all fluff

Brand positioning statements aren’t a storage space for all the aspirations and dreams you might have for your business. Your positioning statement is clear and concise. If you’re helping people to live a better life with therapy, then make sure you outline how you do that, what you’re best at, and what you can offer your clients. Talk about how simple and effective your process is, to make sure that you stand out from the crowd, but don’t just copy and paste the same fluffy statements that everyone else uses. Be unique.

4. Outline your benefits

No matter how unique you think your business is, the truth is that there are plenty of companies out there who can come out of the woodwork to offer the very same service. If the benefit that they’re advertising to customers is also similar to yours, then it’s going to be tough for you to stand out. Try to outline your unique benefits as much as possible. For instance, if you and your competitors both offer debt-relief advice to customers, do you target a specific baby-boomer market? Can you offer technology that appeals to millennials?

5. Embody a unique personality

One of the easiest ways to differentiate your company from other competitors on the market, is to draw attention to your personality, and your team. Highlighting your personality can ensure that you stand out amongst the crowd with a quirky manifesto, an inspiring backstory, and plenty of fun, interesting copy that helps to market your company.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning statements: Why it’s time to design your own

Now that we’ve reached the end of this brand positioning article, you hopefully know just how important it is to craft your very own brand positioning statement. However, if you’re still wondering why it’s so crucial to understand your brand position, and form a roadmap for your company’s future, here are three simple reasons that should convince you to take action:

  1. Your primary goal as a company should always be to seize any opportunity to position your brand more aggressively in the minds and hearts of your audience. Your customers need to know you, love you, and remember you. Brand positioning helps with all of that.
  2. You need to constantly convince your customers to choose you over your competitors. If you can’t point out what makes you different, then there’s no reason for them to pick you over anyone else.
  3. Your brand positioning statement is the easiest way to identify how you need to promote yourself to others – whether online or face-to-face.

A properly-designed brand positioning statement helps to make you distinctive, and ensures that you create a real, lasting connection with your target audience. Just think about the amount of advertising that your customer base is exposed to each day, and you should see why standing out is so essential.

Your brand positioning statement doesn’t just help you to stand out in your industry and draw attention to what makes you special. It helps you to convince your audience of what you do, who you are, and why they need you.

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