As with most branding & marketing terms, there is quite a lot of different opinions on how Brand Positioning is defined or categorised. For the purposes of this post, we will aim to clarify why those differences exist and illustrate how they are applicable.
A company, a product or a service can all have a brand positioning strategy that is unique to their requirements. The factors that need to be considered for each of these are very different but at the heart of it, they are all aiming to do the same thing.
This is possibly the hardest to explain as most of the best examples are well known, Apple and the Disney of the world have established themselves and their strategies will almost always be about strengthening or renewing the position they hold. But the common factor is their ability to not necessarily re-invent themselves but to ensure their relevance or status with both new and existing customers.
You need to look at new companies to see positioning in practice, as they have to create an almost instant rapport within the brand, as they can’t rely on an existing relationship. This challenge is impossible unless you know exactly who your target customers are and everything about them.
Products have a slightly easier task in that; unless they are a brand new product category that no one has ever seen before, they can use their competitor’s branding to either mimic (think stores’ own brands) or differentiate themselves. They can choose between 3 strategies:
To achieve these strategies, products can choose several levers to establish their brand positioning, and these include (by not limited to):
Variety, performance, reliability, aesthetic, quality and most recently, sustainability.
I would suggest that the positioning of services can be best achieved through the same strategies for products but with the important addition of clearly drawing on the company’s brand positioning to support the value proposition. As services can be more difficult to perceive than a physical product, it is essential that the underlying values of the company are used to reinforce the offering.
Brand Positioning Statement
A Brand Positioning Statement is an essential tool in achieving the desired outcome. To create a brand positioning statement, you need to focus on the key four elements:
- The target – who the customer is and their needs and wants
- The category – The category the brand sits in.
- The differentiator – The USP of the brand
- The payoff – The benefit to Target.
It is important to note that they do not have to be in this order when written out. These can be better seen by reviewing some well know companies’ brand positioning statements.
At Nike, we’re committed to creating a better, more sustainable future for our people, planet, and communities through the power of sport.
Apple provides cutting-edge technology for tech-savvy consumers who want the top of line laptops, computers, and mobile devices. Apple promotes inclusion and accessibility for all and takes responsibility for its employees in addition to committing itself to source the highest quality materials and products.
Starbucks offers the best coffee and espresso drinks for consumers who want premium ingredients and perfection every time. Starbucks not only value every interaction, making each one unique, but the brand commits itself to the highest quality coffee in the world.
Mailchimp is an all-in-one Marketing Platform for small businesses. We empower millions of customers around the world to start and grow their businesses with our smart marketing technology, award-winning support, and inspiring content.
As you can see, there is flexibility in structure, but all start with the brand name and go on to cover who they are engaging and why.
Do you need help with your brand positioning?
Are you confident in your brand positioning, whether that is for your company, its products or its services? If you have any doubt whatsoever, then you need to identify why and remedy it as soon as you can, because if you are unsure, then how are your customers meant to know?
Here at Toast, we have helped organisations and companies create their brands from the ground up, refresh their brands or just provide help and guidance in communicating their brand values correctly through corporate identity guidelines or brand books.
A great recent example is our work for On Call Africa, which had started questioning their brand positioning and even their name! Through a brand audit and several interviews and workshops, we investigated and challenged the brand and its name. In doing so, we provided alternative names, which helped them realise their name was fine but how it was positioned was wrong and informed the creative brief and process.
The result has an identity and positioning that truly matches their goals and intentions.
Guidance and help
An example where we helped an existing brand with a logo designed by another team that was being applied inconsistently is The Elton Johns AIDS Foundation.
They had a fantastic logo and were incredibly clear on the goals and ambitions of the brand but needed a brand book that they could share internally and externally with anyone working with the brand.
The result was a brand book that not only laid out the technical specifications on how to apply the logo, which fonts should be used and what colour palette should be adhered to, but it lived the brand and showed how, when applied correctly, the brand is incredibly powerful.