Brand Positioning Statement

[The Stategic 6-Step Formula]

What is a brand positioning statement?

Well the name makes is clear doesn’t it?

It’s a statement about the position of a brand right?

Well yes, but then why is the brand positioning statement so misunderstood?

Like a school handyman, this guy seems to get called in to do almost every job in the branding area.

So let’s dissect it, break it down, lay it bare and clear it up so you can use this important branding element in the way it’s intended.

Strategically developed to do a very specific job.

brand positioning statement
brand positioning statement

What is a brand positioning statement?

Well the name makes is clear doesn’t it?

It’s a statement about the position of a brand right?

Well yes, but then why is the brand positioning statement so misunderstood?

Like a school handyman, this guy seems to get called in to do almost every job in the branding area.

So let’s dissect it, break it down, lay it bare and clear it up so you can use this important branding element in the way it’s intended.

Strategically developed to do a very specific job.

Brand Positioning Statement[The Video Breakdown]

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What is a brand positioning statement?

So let’s start off by getting the obvious misconceptions out of the way.

It’s not a vision statement.
That’s part of the internal brand and represents the brands’ aspirations and what the future brand looks like.

It’s not the mission statement.
That’s also part of the internal brand and represents the brand’s commitment.

It’s not a tagline.
That’s a customer facing distilled message, which encapsulates the differentiator.

It’s not a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). 
That’s an internal outline, which focuses only on the differentiator.

It’s not a Value Proposition.
A value proposition focuses on the functional and emotional benefits of the experience.

It’s not an Elevator Pitch. 
The elevator pitch is a collection of punchy sentences that summarises the brand and is designed as an engaging conversation starter.

So… now that we know what a brand positioning statement isn’t, what is it?

The last four of the above (the Tagline, the Value Proposition, the USP and the Elevator Pitch) all attempt to:

Summarise what the brand does though the summaries have different jobs and are intended for different stakeholders.

(“Stakeholders” is just a fancy word for anyone with an interest in the brand including customers, employees or shareholders)

The Positioning Statement is not intended to be “customer-facing” statement, which means customers shouldn’t see it.

It’s designed as an internal document to provide clarity of position to the brands leadership team (from the CEO to the customer service reps).

Its job is to provide clarity and direction for all brand representatives (especially the decision makers) around:

Who it helps

What it helps with

The outcome or experience

The competitive alternative

The point of difference

The “Competitive Alternative” is the unique identifier of the positioning statement as it aims to identify its position in comparison to the alternative.

This clarity in direction guides the brand with the end goal of establishing a position in the mind of the brands’ customers.

So the brand positioning statement has the job of guiding the brand into the mind of the audience.

Execute the brand positioning process first

The brand positioning statement is not a development process in-and-of-itself.

It’s not simply a statement that you throw together over a cup of coffee.

This statement is essentially a mapped plan to get to a specific destination.

But like all plans, you need to consider a few things.

If careful time and attention is not taken to understand the terrain, the conditions and the overall direction, you’ll either end up in a place you don’t want to be, or you’ll end up in a heap not far from your starting point.

The brand positioning strategy is the result of the careful and strategic development of the overall brand positioning strategy.

The positioning strategy itself is where the real plan is developed while the brand positioning statement is simply a distillation of that plan.

So before you get your pen and pad out to put together the positioning statement for your brand, you have a bit of work to do.

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What are the elements of a brand positioning strategy?

The positioning strategy brings together three core elements, which are

The Audience

The Competitors

The Differentiator

Each one of these is a detailed process, which requires careful analysis and creative thinking.

The Audience

Before you decide what your brand will do you must first understand who your audience is and what they want. The better you understand your audience, specifically their problems, the better you’ll be able to position your brand.

The Competitors

Your audience already has plenty of options in the market before you throw your brand into the chaotic mix.

You need a clear picture of who is doing what, how they’re doing it, why they’re doing it, what they’re doing well and most importantly, what they’re not doing well or not doing at all.

The Differentiator

With clarity on who the audience is (and what they want) and who the competitors are (and what they’re doing), you have the necessary information you need to first, identify gaps and then, create a unique differentiator.

The goal of the brand positioning strategy is:

to stand out in the market as the best option for your audience.

The goal of the brand positioning statement is

to guide actions, decisions and communication to make that happen.

What are the elements of a brand positioning statement?

Once you’ve defined what your plan is, you can go about distilling that into your brand positioning statement.

This breaks down the brand positioning strategy into 5 distinct elements, which are:

The Audience

The Challenge / Pain Point

The Key Benefit

The Competitive Alternative

The Unique Point Of Difference

Each element should be developed into a concise sentence that defines it.

Each one of these elements is a significant piece in the brand-positioning puzzle.

Once the elements have been defined, they are then amalgamated into an easy to understand statement following a very specific formula.

The Brand Positioning Statement Formula

The brand positioning statement formula takes the elements of the brand positioning statement into an easy to understand statement formula, designed to add clarity around the role each element plays.

The brand positioning statement formula is as follows:

  • WE HELP [AUDIENCE]

  • WHO [CHALLENGE / PAIN-POINT]

  • TO ACHIEVE/EXPERIENCE [KEY BENEFIT]

  • UNLIKE [COMPETITIVE ALTERNATIVE]

  • OUR SOLUTION [UNIQUE POINT OF DIFFERENCE]

When each of the concise sentences developed are plugged into this formula it paints a clear picture of the exact position the brand intends to occupy in the mind of its audience.

How to write a brand positioning statement [The 6-Step Process]

Writing an efficient brand positioning statement requires a bit of finesse but these steps simplify the process.

1) Define the position of the brand

Although this is the work that happens before the brand positioning statement is written, a statement should not be defined without developing your positioning strategy.

First, understand your audience (and what they want)

Second, understand your competitors (and what they do)

Third, identify gaps and create a unique differentiator

2) Reference the internal brand to ensure alignment

Before you write your brand positioning strategy, it’s important to ensure it’s written with the internal brand top of mind.

This is the foundation of “who” the brand is and should be represented where possible to ensure the brand is aligned.

3) List each brand positioning statement element

Before you begin writing, list out each of the brand positioning statement elements, which are:

The Audience

The Challenge / Pain Point

The Key Benefit

The Competitive Alternative

The Unique Point Of Difference

Each of these elements is related to the next and need to be closely aligned as they’re written to ensure they integrate well into the overall statement.

4) Focus on your audiences’ understanding

Although the brand positioning statement is an internal document that should not be displayed to the customer, it’s important that it’s written with the customer as its focus.

The reason for this is to ensure it’s not written with any industry jargon or required industry knowledge in order to understand it.

Remember, this acts as a guide for the development and management of the rest of the brand, which includes the communication strategy.

The simpler it is, the clearer the subsequent communication.

5) Write a concise sentence defining each element

Each of the brand positioning statement elements should be defined into a concise and easy to understand sentence, which leaves no room for misinterpretation.

If you have a professional copywriter at your disposal then use them.

If not, then heavily scrutinise whether or not each and every word is absolutely necessary.

If it’s not, then drop it.

6) Integrate your sentences with the brand positioning statement formula

Once your individual elements are defined into sentences, its time to bring them all together into a clear statement using the brand positioning statement formula which should look something like this.

WE HELP > [AUDIENCE]

WHO > [CHALLENGE / PAIN-POINT]

TO ACHIEVE/EXPERIENCE > [KEY BENEFIT]

UNLIKE > [COMPETITIVE ALTERNATIVE]

OUR SOLUTION > [UNIQUE POINT OF DIFFERENCE]

The statement can be amalgamated a paragraph of sentences but when recording it in your brand guidelines or any other documentation, brand representatives are more likely to remember it based on the above structure.

Conclusion

If the brand positioning statement is used correctly will help to clarify exactly why the brand should be remembered which will shape the messaging to occupy that position in the audience’s mind.

But before you define one, be sure to have a cast iron positioning strategy in place.

Are you a brand-builder bringing a brand to life?

Do you have a distinct position you want your brand to identify in the mind of your audience?

Are you clear on how to go about owning that position?

What’s your next step going to be?

Let me know in the comments Right Now!