How Product Positioning Grows Brands (Top Strategies & Examples)

So, you have an excellent new product that you want to share with the market and your target audience.

But before you think about elaborate product launches, you need to define where your product sits in relation to other products on the market.

What makes it different from other products on the market?

Why should customers care about your product?

What is unique about your product?

Why should they choose you over them?

Answering these questions is at the core of product positioning.

What Is Product Positioning?

Product positioning is the process of clearly defining your product’s place in the market.

It’s all about differentiation.

You need to state how your product offers an alternative solution to anything else that’s on the market for your target customers. It’s this differentiation that will make potential customers take notice of your product.

Effective product positioning helps you manage customer perceptions in your market segment.

Your product marketing strategy then communicates how you want users to think and feel about your product.

Your marketing plan will share the product benefits, how it solves the customers’ pain points, and how it offers an alternative to competitors’ products.

Informed by your clearly defined product positioning strategy and overarching brand strategy, your product marketing can then create a solid image of the product in your customers’ minds.

Why Is Product Positioning Important?

You can’t rely on product quality for it to be a success.

A solid product or service is simply table stakes. Positioning is where the real battle for the mind begins.

As Al Ries once famously said:

“Positioning is not what you do to a product, it’s what you do to the mind of the prospect”

Excellent product positioning can be the difference between a thriving product loved by a loyal group of customers and an excellent product that falls flat with no significant impact in the market.

Many a superior product has come and gone with little impact because of positioning failure.

Your product performance relies on a strong product position. That’s because all product storytelling, messaging and marketing is built on the foundation of your product position.


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Gain A Competitive Advantage

If you have a clearly defined product position, you present a clear value proposition to potential customers and a reason to buy your product.

If this reason resonates, you gain a competitive advantage over your competitors in the product category.

Puts Your Brand Top-Of-Mind

Product positioning isn’t just about outlining your product’s key benefits or functionality.

An excellent product positioning strategy will ensure your product and brand stays top-of-mind.

Producing positioning might aim to position your product as number one in its category in the audience’s mind; a coveted spot that will lead to product success.

But it may also aim to be a unique alternative from the rest, rather than number one.

Where such brands gain traction, they invariably end up being number one for the niche segment that chooses them.

Product Positioning Guides Consistent Marketing Messaging

Mixed messages confuse your target audience.

You can’t focus on one selling point in one marketing channel and then offer a contradictory selling point elsewhere.

As with anything in branding, clarity and consistency is the path to success.

Communicating the value of your product in a consistent manner from message to tone will help to forge a consistent picture of value in the prospect’s mind.

Customers will only understand your unique value if you communicate it consistently across all marketing channels.

Marketing messaging based on solid product positioning should leave the consumer with no doubt as to what your product stands for and how it’s different to similar products on the market.

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How To Define Product Positioning

Your product positioning strategy does not exist in a vacuum and should be closely aligned with your broader brand positioning strategy.

For example, if your brand strategy aims to own the position of â€śTimeless Style”, then any new product position must support the brand position.

Your positioning strategy should consider several elements

#1. Brand Strategy

To help us visualize what this looks like in practice, let’s take inspiration from some brands with comprehensive brand guidelines.

What makes these great is that they signpost elements of the broader brand strategy into the brand guidelines.

#2. Mission And Vision

How do you envisage the future of your product?

What is the potential for your product’s growth and evolution?

Your brand strategy defines your mission, which should inform an element of your vision for the future.

It should be relatively easy to define why your product exists now, but it’s challenging to picture what role your product may play five or ten years down the line.

Considering this potential future should help you define your product’s immediate value and imagine what the future could hold for the product.

#3. The Market Category

Are you moving into a new market, creating a new market entirely, or introducing a new product to a market you already have a stake in?

Each path will inform your product positioning strategy.

The market category is your competition zone, so you’ll need to take time to do market research to thoroughly understand your competitors and their products.

You want to occupy a space that nobody has claimed or at least outperform another competitor in the audience’s mind. If the market is over-saturated, then why does your product offer a better solution than somebody else’s?

#4. Pain Points

What are your target market’s pain points?

Understand the audience’s challenges and how you can frame your product as a solution to the customers’ needs.

What problem or problems does your product solve for the audience?

Product teams often create customer journey maps to explore the specific frustrations of their buyer personas.

By exploring these frustrations, you can gain valuable insights that inform your positioning strategy.

#5. Benefits

It can be quite tempting to get caught up in the promotion features (especially when those features are innovative) but the benefit is where brands make connections.

In 2001, the Creative Zen was a popular MP3 player. Their promotions and ads went into great detail about the long list of features it boasted without ever really translating to the consumer the overarching benefit.

That year, Steve Jobs announced the launch of the iPod. Rather than focusing on the innovative click wheel features and navigation system, Apple and Jobs communicated a simplistic benefit.

“1,000 songs in your pocket”

#6. Product Positioning Statement

After contemplating the brand strategy, market category, your audience’s pain points, and the benefits for your product, you should have enough context to write a purposeful product positioning statement.

The positioning statement is critical to all future strategies.

In it, you give a concrete description of your product and outline its value proposition to the audience.

Here’s a positioning statement template:

(Product name) is a (product category) that helps (target audience) achieve (differentiating benefit(s)your product offers) to avoid or solve (users’ challenges, needs, or problems).

This statement evolves into a positioning document that clarifies how your company should view your product and how exactly to present it.

The document outlines how to communicate the product to customers to build a solid product image in their minds and informs all further product messaging and marketing.

Powerful Examples Of Product Positioning

Let’s take inspiration from some excellent brands from different industries that nail their product positioning strategies.

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Apple – iPhone

Creator Brand Archetype apple

The Apple iPhone claims over 50% of the smartphone market in the US.

Apple has established its brand reputation as a premium provider of innovative and advanced yet user-friendly products and has created a product in the iPhone, that has become a cult brand in-and-of-itself.

The iPhone differentiates itself from competitors with its exclusive, sleek, luxurious elegance and the ever-present Apple brand experience from packaging to customer support.

The closed iOS operating software has created a walled garden for Apple throughout their entire product line, but no product has benefited more than the iPhone.

As always, simplicity is front and centre from phone design to interface, making a move away from iPhone’s differentiation no easy task.

Levi’s – 501’s

Levi’s is a brand with over 150 years of history with a reputation for quality, durable, yet fashionable denim wear.

The brand leans into its all-American heritage and has built considerable brand salience and customer loyalty through its long history.

Within Levi’s products, one pair of denim jeans stands above the rest in consumers’ minds, the 501’s.

Levi’s 501’s have almost become the gold standard for jeans worldwide.

While other styles come and go, with variations like taper, skinny, and boot-cut, all with their own three-number allocation, the straight-leg standard 501’s are an ever-present icon.

For many buyers, it’s not enough to have a pair of Levi’s.

You need to get the iconic 501’s with their immediately recognizable sewn-in patch bearing the Levi’s logo.

Levi’s product positioning strategy for the 501’s is to play off this reputation for quality and iconic status.

Nike – Air Max

Nike has a vast product range covering footwear, athleisure, hats, soccer equipment, and various other apparel categories.

Many of Nike’s product categories have obtained a cult following in and of themselves.

The Air Max footwear range has a dedicated customer base that is fully aware of the product’s evolution.

They are â€śfans” of the sneakers in the truest sense of the word.

They’ll track the release dates of new editions, search for older versions of the product online, and queue up at launch events to get their hands on the sneakers.

Nike’s product strategy is to nurture this cult following.

Releases of the Air Max sneakers always come with considerable fanfare with various limited editions and staggered release dates to allow loyal customers early access.

They play on the idea of the product as a collector’s item on top of its functionality as comfortable, high-quality, cool sneakers.

Common Product Positioning Strategies

While your product’s value should be unique, that doesn’t mean your product positioning strategy has to be original.

You’ll find that most product positioning strategies fall into one of the following categories.

Price â€“ Position your product so it undercuts competitors, making it the most affordable option on the market.

Quality â€“ Demonstrate that your product has superior quality to competitors, taking the luxury or premium angle. This positioning strategy can be useful to counteract rivals who undercut you on price.

User â€“ Target a very specific demographic that you think nobody else caters to.

Competitor â€“ Take a competitor head-on and position your product as directly better than theirs.

Differentiation – Demonstrate that there’s simply nothing else like your product on the market; that it’s truly unique.

Over To You

The ideal positioning approach for your product will depend on your target market’s needs, your market research findings, and your brand’s objectives.

Yet, regardless of your chosen strategy, having a clearly defined product position will help you understand your product’s value.

Knowing your product’s value is vital to effectively communicating this value to your audience.

Remember that your product positioning strategy is all about building the desired perception of the product in the audience’s mind. Do this well and you can carve out your place in the market and lay the groundwork for a successful product.

However, brands evolve. Markets evolve as competitors come and go in prominence. Audience interests change, too.

You’ll need to revisit your product positioning strategies regularly to ensure your products consistently resonate with the target audience and maintain that pride of place in their minds.

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