WHAT IS BRAND POSITIONING?

Without a doubt, brand positioning is one of the most [if not the most] critical elements in the entire brand strategy.

It aims to place your brand in the mind of your audience for a very specific reason to help them distinguish your brand from the rest.

No matter which industry you’re operating in, it’s probably a noisy place full of competitors all vying for the attention of your shared audience.

You can’t just expect your audience to understand why they should choose your brand over a competitor’s; you need to help them to that discovery.

Without a doubt, brand positioning is one of the most [if not the most] critical elements in the entire brand strategy.

It aims to place your brand in the mind of your audience for a very specific reason to help them distinguish your brand from the rest.

No matter which industry you’re operating in, it’s probably a noisy place full of competitors all vying for the attention of your shared audience.

You can’t just expect your audience to understand why they should choose your brand over a competitor’s; you need to help them to that discovery.

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Your Audience Positions Your Brand

As much as your brand attempts to influence where your audience places your brand within their mind, ultimately that’s something your audience does by themselves.

Based on their interactions, experiences, circumstances and of course, exposure to your messages, they’ll decide where your brand fits and whether or not it’s relevant to them.

Your positioning strategy therefore, aims to influence how your audience perceives your brand, so you can stake a claim for the position you want within their mind.

The Goal Of Brand Positioning

The end goal of brand positioning is to own an idea that your audience associates with your brand and your brand alone.

This idea is spawned in the development of your positioning strategy and once the idea is clear, the supporting elements of your brand strategy, places that idea in the mind of your audience.

Depending on how well your messaging is aligned with your positioning strategy, the idea might land or might not.

So what does that all mean?

Well, essentially, you need to define an idea you want your audience to associate with your brand and work on hard on formulating that idea into an easy to understand message.

The more simplistic (and unique) the idea, and the more ways you consistently deliver that idea at various touch points, the more likely it is your idea will land.

Only a well formulated and clear message delivered consistently will allow the idea to land.

If it does land, your audience will associate your brand with that idea, and they’ll remember you at the moment of truth (the buying decision).

Simple right?

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Brand Positioning Definition [Kotler]

Philip Kotler is thought of as “The Father of Modern Marketing”.

Author of over 80 marketing books and a distinguished professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Kotler is someone you need to listen to when it comes to branding and marketing.

Kotler has defined brand positioning as

“The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”

The offer he is referring to is the thing you do differently.

The image is the way in which you communicate that difference to your audience.

Collectively, your offer and your image represent your idea, which is exactly how, you want your brand to be perceived in the market.

Developing A Brand Positioning Strategy

The strategy of your brand positioning is the research and development of your idea.

Simply coming up with an idea as to why you’re different doesn’t mean your idea is the right one.

There are a number of important elements at play, which need to be considered during the development of the strategy.

If the positioning of your brand has an end goal it needs to achieve (which we covered already), then the most efficient or effective way to achieve that goal has to be defined.

If a military platoon has an objective for a mission, the commander won’t formulate a plan without considering important information such the location and movement of civilians as well as the strengths, weaknesses and position of the enemy.

When defining a position for your brand in the market, just like a military commander, you need to strategically analyse the important elements at play before formulating a plan of attack.

These elements are critical considerations when defining which position your brand should occupy and the most efficient way to achieve that goal.

The Elements Of Brand Positioning

Your brand positioning strategy consists of three critical elements

They are:

Your Audience

Your Competitors

Your Differentiator

An effective brand positioning strategy is developed through careful analysis of each of these key elements.

Your Audience

The position your brand takes in the market is quite simply, to stand out as the best choice for your audience.

In order to be the best choice, you first need to understand what it is they want and to do that, you need to get to know them intimately.

They will already have plenty of choices in the market, but there will always be something different, faster, safer, more efficient, cheaper, more complete or more convenient that will appeal to them.

If your offer and image (your idea) provides an appealing alternative to the options they already have in the market, your brand has a chance of claiming a unique place in the mind of your audience.

Your Competitors

Your competitors are the existing choices your audience already has.

Through their offer and image they populate the marketplace with solutions your audience has to choose from.

Analysing at your competitors is not an exercise to find what’s working well in order to replicate it.

That would result in your brand simply offering more of what’s already available and contributing to market noise.

In other words, that’s the best way to blend in.

Your competitors will have a variation of offers and images that will appeal to different segments within your market.

Some may be cheap while others are expensive.

Some may be comprehensive while others are convenient.

Some may be fast while others are efficient.

When you know your competitors, their offers, their images, their strengths and their weaknesses, you have a clear understanding of what’s available to your audience.

From here you’re much better placed to uncover opportunities.

Your Differentiator

Your differentiator is the cornerstone of your positioning strategy.

Once your understand who your audience is and what they want…

And you also have clarity on who your competitors are and what they offer; you can identify gaps that exist which your brand can fill.

How To Create A Unique Brand Position

Finding a unique gap in the market is a creative game.

Gaps aren’t sitting out in the open like a beautiful untouched patch of grass on a hill that others have simply left open for you.

It’s not that easy.

Unique gaps are created from… you guessed it… an “Idea”.

Your differentiator therefore is not found. It’s created.

You need to know who your audience is. What they like and dislike and how they feel about the problems they have.

You need to know your competitors and the positions they occupy in the mind of your shared audience in order to identify the gaps.

Once you have these ingredients, with a little creativity you can create a differentiator that didn’t exist before.

If your research was comprehensive enough and your differentiator creative enough, your audience might just create a new position in their mind just for your brand.

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A Brand Positioning Map / Perceptual Maps

A brand-positioning map is a graphical chart, which allows you to visually analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

By placing two attributes of the product/service you offer on a map, you can then plot where your competitors sit, based on their perception in the market.

For example; for a car brand, the audience might consider both price and quality.

With the vertical line representing price (both high and low), and the horizontal line representing quality (both high and low), you can place your competitors on the map giving you a snapshot of the marketplace.

This of course is an over simplified explanation of the positioning map.

You would need to get a lot more granular with buying considerations to point you in the right direction of something unique.

The positioning map though is a great place to start to understand the market conditions and identify possible gaps.