“Positioning is how you differentiate yourself in the mind of your prospect”Jack Trout , Al Ries (2000). Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
When it comes to business and brand strategy, the term ‘brand positioning’ holds immense significance. Here at Brand Lounge, positioning isn’t just a statement. It becomes an experiential journey and a strategic imperative that shapes the very essence of our brand development methodology.
So, what exactly is brand positioning and why does it matter for your business? This article delves into the essence of brand positioning, exploring why it’s a vital component of any business strategy and how it can be implemented.
Understanding Brand Positioning
Throughout our extensive experience in brand development, we’ve gained insight into the fact that positioning isn’t a static declaration. Rather, it’s an intricate collection of small experiences woven throughout a business’s journey. It’s a decision that emerges from the depth of your brand strategy and exists in context, often in relation to other players in the market.
Brand positioning revolves around how your target audience perceives your brand in comparison to competitors. It’s about carving out a distinctive space in consumers’ minds, a decision intricately intertwined with your brand strategy.
Jack Trout and Al Ries, the pioneers of positioning theory, succinctly put it, “Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.” Your positioning isn’t isolated. It’s defined by the context in which you compete. While the concept of positioning, as initially defined by Al Ries and Jack Trout, has evolved, its importance remains constant.
Why Brand Positioning Matters?
Differentiation: The primary goal of a strong brand strategy is to differentiate your brand from a myriad of competitors. Brand positioning aids in finding an optimal spot, a niche where competitors are sparse, allowing you to firmly establish your brand. Consider Apple, positioning itself as the innovator in the tech industry, differentiating itself from functionality-focused competitors like Microsoft.
Customer Perception: Perception can be created by word of mouth, through advertising, and mainly through a consumer’s experience with the brand. Given that positioning is primarily how your customers perceive you, it is evident that your brand’s position in the market and its category directly influences how important your brand remains in the minds of your customers. Volvo, for instance, positioned itself as the safest car brand. This deliberate choice attracted safety-conscious consumers and shaped their brand image over the years.
Attract your ideal customer: If you can identify the best possible position for your business and align your products/services with the needs of your target audience, then you will attract and retain loyal customers. Tesla is a prime example of this. The brand positioned itself as a pioneer of sustainable transportation, resonating with environmentally conscious consumers.
Higher pricing power: By establishing a strong brand positioning and competitive advantage, you can increase your pricing power and charge more for your products and services.
Evolve with the market: Brand positioning isn’t static. It may need adjustment as market dynamics change or your brand evolves. Stay attuned to shifts in your industry and be ready to adapt.
How to Develop a Positioning Strategy
Undertaking a brand positioning exercise isn’t solely to create a new brand strategy or rebrand. A company that has undergone an M&A may need to reposition itself to find a space that aligns with its new offerings. Alternatively, a business on a rapid growth trajectory may aim to depose a competitor by overtaking its position. Oftentimes, your brand already occupies a position but needs to communicate that position more effectively. To do this, you will need to create a positioning clarity strategy.
Once a decision has been made on the best positioning strategy, the next step is to develop a plan that will propel the business to become a category leader, maximizing brand value.
Below are some steps that can assist in the creation of a positioning strategy.
1. Understand Your Audience:
A few decades ago, brands wielded more power than consumers, allowing businesses to operate profitably with only a loose understanding of their customer base. However, in today’s market, such an approach is no longer viable. To succeed, companies must have a deep understanding of their customers and cater to their needs and preferences. Failure to do so can result in lost market share and decreased profitability.
For your brand to thrive, you need to undertake a deep and thorough market analysis of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points. Your brand positioning should resonate with their values.
2. Analyze Your Competitors:
Study your competitors to identify gaps in the market. Try to figure out what they are doing well. What could they be doing better? Create a perceptual map to easily visualize and identify opportunities to differentiate.
3. Uncover Your Differentiators:
After having found your target audience and conducted a comprehensive competitive analysis, you can uncover your areas of differentiation and create a compelling unique value proposition (UVP) that encapsulates what makes your brand special.
Once you’ve uncovered what makes your brand special and different, it’s time to differentiate and communicate your positioning strategy.
5. Stay Consistent
A clearly defined brand positioning strategy will help you stay consistent in every dimension of your brand, from messaging to design to sales. By understanding where you play and remaining consistent in your space, you will build trust and ultimately claim the top spots in your category.
Examples of Successful Positioning Strategies
Apple (The Innovator): Apple’s brand positioning centers around innovation, intuitive, and user-centric design. By positioning itself as the pioneer in user-friendly technology, Apple has created a dedicated customer base that eagerly anticipates each new product release.
Tesla (Sustainability): Tesla has successfully positioned itself as a leader in sustainable transportation and innovation in the automotive industry. Their electric vehicles and renewable energy products align with the growing global concern for the environment.
Coca-Cola (The Classic Refreshment): Coca-Cola’s brand positioning revolves around being the ultimate classic refreshment. By consistently associating their brand with happiness, fun, and nostalgia, Coca-Cola has remained a global beverage giant for over a century.
Nike (Empowerment and Excellence): Nike positions itself as a brand that empowers athletes of all levels. Their “Just Do It” campaign encapsulates this positioning strategy, motivating people to strive for their personal best.
Find Your Ideal Positioning for Growth
Brand positioning is the cornerstone of a successful brand strategy. It defines your brand’s space in consumers’ minds, differentiates you from competitors, and aligns with your target audience’s needs. By adhering to the principles outlined and drawing inspiration from successful examples, you can craft a compelling and enduring brand that drives growth.
When it comes to creating a strong brand, remember: it all starts with where you position yourself in the minds of your customers. If you are uncertain about how to formulate a positioning strategy, consider getting in touch with us. We would be delighted to collaborate with you and help you maximize your brand value.