What Exactly is Brand Positioning Anyway?

One of the most important aspects of any brand’s success is positioning. Quite simply, brand positioning is the specific image, theme or idea that a brand creates in the minds of consumers.

"Positioning the brand and regaining trust are all smart things for us to do and those are the litmus tests for any decisions we make."

John McKinley

Reis and Trout first established the idea of Brand Positioning in their bestselling work Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, where they suggest the overarching goal is to create a specific positive imprint in the customer’s mind. The customer then associates something desirable with the brand that is distinctive in the marketplace; in other words, strongly associated with the brand and not the competition.

Brand positioning is foundational for every aspect of the business; communications chief among them. If an organization doesn’t take charge of creating their positioning, the brand will organically take on a position (or life) of its own. Stakeholders should seek to develop a forward-looking plan to positively influence and shape the brands perception in the eyes of the target customer.


Got It, So How do I do That?

First, identify what makes your brand unique while simultaneously determining what differentiates the brand from the core competition. The company will need to address the following specific questions to gain a clear understanding of the brand’s perception in the marketplace with a no-egos look at consumer perception:

• Who are your core competitors; as in where else does your target customer shop for the product/services you offer?

• How does the competition position their brand; as in what do they stand for and what makes them stand out?

• How is your brand currently positioning itself; as in what are you known for and how do you stand out – and is this congruent with your intent?

• How does your positioning compare to the competitive set? Where do your performance metrics overlap or what is unique?

• What are the attitudinal and demographic characteristics of your target market?. What are their pain points? Their needs, wants desires and expectations?

• What motivates a purchase? What drives decision and influences decision-making?

• Reflecting on pain points, ask yourself how your brand solves for these problems? In the eyes of the target customer, what are the greatest benefits your brand offers?

Successful brand positioning requires more than internal discussion. Customers must be engaged to derive insight on the above measures. Brand values can be delineated through qualitative research such as focus groups or in-depth interviews. Following, quantitative research assists to identify gaps in competitive performance and therefore, opportunities. Next step is to develop options and test them for viability in the brand positioning statement. For more information on positioning statements, check out our article “The Skinny on Creating a Brand Positioning Statement”. 


As a precursor to arriving at a brand positioning statement, Marketing Workshop holds a Brand Positioning Workshop, devoted to understanding the impact of the research findings and generate discussion.

• Is there anything surprising?

• Does this align with the organizational mission?

• Are stakeholders ready, able (and willing) to embrace and integrate throughout the organization to achieve continuity; which is critical to a successful positioning strategy?


Marketing Workshop is proficient in both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of brand positioning; and effective with facilitating workshops; where the learning is synthesized into action. This workshop is particularly rewarding as it is designed to assist brands in identifying their strategic position and articulate, clearly and compellingly who they are, what they do and why they matter. Together, we synthesize the findings and agree on the target customer, category, brand promise, brand relevancy and reason to believe in the brand; all of which feed the brand positioning statement. From there, we can identify next steps around how to best cascade this information to internal stakeholders. All stakeholders within the organization should strive to position the brand in the customer’s mind in such a way that everyone cannot only express the position but live the position.

~ Marketing Workshop

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