How to Write a Great Brand Positioning Statement

Darren Coleman

Darren ColemanFounder and Managing Consultant at Wavelength Marketing

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Brand positioning concerns the unique associations you want stakeholders to connect with your brand.

Article

Coca Cola is associated with happiness.

Audi is associated with German engineering excellence.

Nike is associated with winning.

McKinsey is associated with high-end management consulting.

Focus, clarity, and ruthless consistency are the hallmarks of effective brand positioning. To achieve these goals, it’s advisable to write a well-structured positioning statement.

The five parts of a positioning statement

The following five areas should be used to make up your positioning statement:

  1. Target market
  2. Brand name
  3. Jobs to be done'
  4. Benefit
  5. Reason to believe

To fire your imagination, the below provides an example of a positioning statement from a company in the hotel sector.

Parts of a positioning statement

Template language

Illustrative example from the hotel sector

Target market

For…….,

Young, upwardly mobile, cosmopolitan, corporate business travelers

Brand name

 (brand name)

The Hipster’s Hotel (fictitious brand name)

‘Job to be done’

Helps you….

  1. Disconnect from the corporate grind during the evening whilst on business trips
  2. Escape predictable, mainstream city experiences
  3. Feel plugged in to a local, underground community
  4. Demonstrate you’re in the know to friends

Benefit

Which means that you can...

  1. Chill out, recharge and be yourself in the evening
  2. Get a ‘real’ feel for the city’s scene and people
  3. Connect with like-minded people involved with local scenes
  4. Impress your friends when you go back home

Reason to believe

Because

  1. 75% of guests said they felt like they could switch off from work in the evening
  2. 80% of guests said the experiences delivered felt authentic eg: the local up and coming DJs, shows for local designers and displaying local urban art and fashion
  3. 60% of guests stay in touch with people they met in our hotel due to a common interest
  4. 75% of guest would bring a friend/partner back to the hotel for a city break

1. Target market

“Customer focus” and “customer centricity” are common marketing mantras. But it’s surprising how many brands don’t really understand their target market in adequate depth. When positioning your brand, you need to be crystal clear who you’re positioning your brand for.

Focus is key - a blunderbuss approach is likely to backfire (and is potentially quite painful).

To understand your target market, you need to ask yourself a broad range of questions so you can appreciate and visualize your target customer in practical terms. For example:

  • Where do they live?
  • What interests do they have?
  • Which social media channels do they use?
  • Who influences their purchase decisions?
  • What story has shaped their life?
  • What benefits doe they seek?
  • What values do they hold?

Armed with these insights, you’ll see the world through your target customers’ eyes. Empathy drives insight and that’s a powerful platform for positioning your brand in the most relevant ways.

2. Brand name

Is it a corporate, master or product brand you want to position? It sounds painfully obvious but clarifying this early-on in the process avoids confusion and possible heartache later down the line.

3. ‘Jobs to be done’

Positioning statements usually frame competitors in the context of a category. For example, Marriott competes with Hilton. Savvy CMOs consider competitors based on the jobs a stakeholder wants to get done. In other words what problems, challenges, issues or frustrations do your customers encounter which your brand can help them address or solve.

Looking at competitors through a ‘jobs-based lens’ provides a broader view on existing and potential competitors. This contrasts with a category-based perspective that restricts your peripheral vision and so prevents you from seeing new competitors coming from adjacent or unexpected industries.

For example, I was at a conference where a representative from a famous motorbike brand outlined how their competitors are not just other motorcycle brands, but companies that make conservatories and sell world cruises. Why? The job this target customer wanted to get done was to enjoy the early stages of their retirement. These brands compete for the same customers’ cash but come from very different categories.

4. Benefit

This is a clear illustration of how powerful brands deliver benefits that provide stakeholders with relevant value. Most brands focus on features not benefits. For example, the number of ATMs, data speeds or number of employees.

However, focusing purely on features is problematic because:

  • Features are a means to an end. It’s the benefit the feature delivers where the value resides. Customers aren’t worried about anti-locking braking systems or air bags. They’re worried about the safety of their family.
  • Focusing on features commoditizes your offer. If you create a table showing your brand and competitors against the features you all offer, it’s likely perceived points of difference will dissolve into a sea of sameness.
  • A feature-driven mentality adds customer stress, complexity and cost. Excessive choice is stressful for customers. More features also mean more things can go wrong, meaning customer service can become more complex and difficult to deliver. Unnecessary features also add unnecessary cost. Just look at your mobile phone - how many unnecessary features does it contain?

To extract one or multiple benefits from a feature, simply use the statement “feature which means that”. For example, fast 5G data speeds means that you can:

  • Deliver more responsive client service
  • Stay on top of projects whilst on the move
  • Get more out of your day
  • Play graphic-heavy games on the train to reduce boredom
  • Upload video clips to your you tube channels to keep your community engaged
  • Deliver investor video conferences whilst out of the office

5. Reason to believe

It’s important to demonstrate you’ve delivered on what you promised. This is can be achieved in several ways. Client testimonials are a good place to start. Robust statistics can also demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, that your brand is not just hot air. Some brands may feel uneasy about doing this. Don’t worry. As the saying goes “good service is mute.” Sometimes customers need to be informed you’ve done a good job (within reason, of course).

Bringing it all together

A positioning statement encompasses your target market, brand name, jobs to be done, key benefits and reasons to believe.  The aim is to help your target market get jobs done, via benefits you deliver, as demonstrated through reasons to believe. As the table outlined, one key job a Hipster’s Hotel target customer would want to get done is to switch off from the corporate grind during the evening when working away from home. This is achieved by being able to chill out, recharge and be yourself during the evening. The fact that 75% of guests said they felt like they could switch off from work in the evening gave reason to believe that the hotel was helping customers to do exactly that.

Clarity, focus and consistency are the key to effective brand positioning. Writing a positioning statement with the points outlined in this article will go some way to helping you achieve that.

Building Brand Experiences

Buy Darren's book or read a sample chapter

Get the book

Comments

Join the conversation...

Back To The Top!