Developing a unique brand is not just about designing a distinctive logo or crafting a catchy tagline. It’s about creating a unique feeling that will live in your customers’ minds. It’s about building an association between your brand and something positive so that whenever your target audience sees let’s say: your logo, they know what to expect from your products and services.

This element of branding is called brand positioning. Keep reading to learn about its importance to the success of your business, along with four strategies to help you implement it.

What Is Brand Positioning And How Does It Work?

Brand positioning is typically defined as the unique space that a brand occupies in the minds of its target audience when compared to its competitors.

The best way to learn how this strategy works is by using an example. Let’s take Smartwater. Smartwater is a sub-brand of bottled water owned by the Coca-Cola Company, designed to appeal to young adults.

Its brand positioning is as follows: “This unique combination of vapor distillation and electrolytes result in a premium bottled water that delivers a taste that is distinctly fresh, crisp, and pure.”

The terms “vapor distillation” and “electrolytes” were chosen to play into the idea that this is water for smart, healthy people. They draw attention to the specific process used to obtain the water and how the “fresh, crisp and pure” flavor was achieved. They also support the claim that Smartwater is “premium bottled water,” implying that it’s somehow better or more high quality than other bottled water brands.

Compare this to the brand positioning for Dasani, another sub-brand owned by the Coca Cola Company: “DASANI®  is better by design: Better Designed Water – state of the art purification process and ideal mineral blend for a pure, fresh taste. Better Designed Package – PlantBottle packaging and continual lightweighting initiatives. Better Designed Future – Give it Back™ recycling education and environmentally responsible marketing programs.”

The Coca Cola Company is trying to market Dasani to young adults who are concerned about important issues like recycling. The design of the bottle and the taste of the water lean less toward appearing “smart,” and more toward appearing eco-friendly.

Each of these brands uses its design and messaging to position itself in an extremely specific, unique way. That’s why when you see or hear the word “smartwater,” you think of water that is vapor distilled, has electrolytes, and tastes crisp. When you see or hear the word “Dasani,” you think of water that has minerals, is packaged in PlantBottle packaging, and contributes to recycling and environmental programs.

That’s the power that brand positioning has on consumers. It can literally help them decide which water they want to buy at the store.

How Important Is Brand Positioning?

There’s no understating the importance of brand positioning.

If it’s strong and unique, then your brand will stand out from its competitors and appeal to your target demographic of consumers. But if it’s weak and ambiguous, then your brand will fade into obscurity, eclipsed by the superior brand positioning strategies of other companies in your niche.

To illustrate this point, let’s compare two movie rental giants: Netflix and Blockbuster.

Before Netflix came along, Blockbuster dominated the video rental market. Then Netflix showed up with unique brand positioning: they would mail DVDs to their subscribers upon request, and their subscribers would mail them back when they were finished with them.

Blockbuster refused to adapt to the times. Instead, they maintained their old standard brand positioning, which was that driving to their store was the easiest and most convenient way to rent high-quality movies.

Eventually, Blockbuster was beaten out by Netflix and had to close all its stores except one. That one store, located in Bend, Oregon, is now more of a tourist stop or a museum than a place to get movies from!

As the market and audiences’ tastes and desires change, so must your brand positioning. Otherwise, you’ll be nudged into irrelevance by brands that are up and coming.

What Are The Elements Of Brand Positioning?

For successful brand positioning, there are three elements you should pay attention to the desires of your target customers, the capabilities of your brand, and the brand positioning of your competitors.

Customer Desires

You need to have a deep understanding of what your ideal customers want. Ask questions like: what are they looking for in a brand like yours? What are their pain points? What aesthetic or messaging appeals to them the most?

To find the answers, you can always send out consumer surveys or take a poll. You can also pay attention to current trends in your corner of the market, as that’s usually a good indicator of what consumers are buying.

Brand Capabilities

Now that you have an idea of what your customers desire, you must determine what your company and brand are capable of. How can you use your capabilities to support your brand positioning?

For example, if you are a cosmetic brand and you’re positioning yourself as a vegan alternative to MAC, you must be able to deliver on the claim that you’re vegan. You must get your products tested and certified “vegan” with a label on the product. Otherwise, your brand positioning will lose all credibility.

Competitors’ Brand Positioning

Finally, you must consider the brand positioning of your competitors. What makes them successful? How can you make yours stand out while appealing just as much or more to your target consumer demographic? Find a way to position your brand as unique from everyone else’s.

These three elements are like the three legs on a stool. Without any one of them, your entire brand positioning will become weak and unstable. But if they are all present, it will be strong and competitive.

What Are The Benefits Of Brand Positioning?

Here are 4 benefits of positioning your brand.

1.   Makes Your Brand Stand Out From Your Competitors

The main purpose of brand positioning is also one of its primary benefits: it helps you stand out from other companies in your niche. By standing out, you’ll find it easier to grab customers’ attention and get them to buy your product or service over someone else’s.

2.   Enables More Successful Marketing Campaigns

Brand positioning lends focus and direction to your branding in terms of imagery and messaging. Once you’ve determined exactly how you want to position your brand in the public eye, marketing can use that same imagery and messaging to appeal to your target audience more successfully.

3.   Helps Distinguish Sub-Brands From One Another

If you own a large or growing corporation and decide to develop sub-brands, you can position each one in different, unique ways to help your customers distinguish them from one another. Brand positioning will also help customers from becoming confused and mistaking one of your sub-brands for another.

4.   Helps You Control Customer Perception

Perhaps the most important benefit of positioning your brand is that it helps you control customer perception. If you want your target consumer demographic to view your furniture company as a cheaper alternative to West Elm, then you can use brand positioning to help them arrive at this specific conclusion.

The Four Brand Positioning Strategies

Every company has a different goal when it comes to how they want to be perceived by their customers.

That’s why there are four different brand positioning strategies. Each one works to position your brand in a unique way.

1.   Competitive Positioning

Competitive positioning involves comparing your product or service with that of your competitors. The goal of this strategy is to show customers how your brand is different from and better than the other ones in your niche. In doing so, you increase your own value and make customers more likely to buy from you instead of your competition.

For example, if you’ve ever seen any commercials by the frozen pizza brand Digiorno’s, then you know that they always position themselves as a cheaper, more convenient, tastier alternative to ordering takeout pizza. They’re trying to convince you to buy their product instead of buying food from their competitors, like Pizza Hut and Dominoes.

2.   Product Positioning

Product positioning is (unsurprisingly, given the name) all about putting the product that your brand sells in front of your target audience. Rather than comparing your brand to your competitors, you’re showing consumers how unique the product you sell is by harping on its benefits and features.

Using this strategy, you can position your brand as a company that is known for producing and selling a particular product. Take Apple, for example. They’ve positioned themselves as the company that sells iPhones. They don’t have to compare their phones with other brands; they simply highlight all the features and aesthetics that their products have become known for over the years. The sales continue to roll in. And how!

3.   Situational Positioning

When you leverage situational positioning, you’re presenting your brand’s product or service as the solution to your customer’s problems. Intuit uses this strategy to market QuickBooks, which is a software tool that helps small to medium-sized businesses with their accounting.

4.   Perceptual Positioning

Brands that use perceptual positioning are trying to change their customers’ perceptions in some way. For example, Toyota runs commercials showing how many JD Power Awards they’ve won to help consumers perceive the vehicles they sell as safe and high quality. They’re not talking about the product they sell so much as the fact that they’ve won awards.

Conclusion

Brand positioning is of the utmost strategic importance. When all three of its elements are strong, it helps you guide customer perception of your company, increase sales, and make you stand out from your competitors. Without it, you will fade into obscurity.

Related Read: Key Elements In Brand Architecture Strategy

Aniket Warty

Aniket Warty

Adventure Capitalist. I need no sanction for my life, permission for my freedom, or excuse for my wealth: I am the sanction, the warrant, and the reason. The creation of wealth is merely an extension of my innate freedom to produce.
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