Having brand positioning that achieves everything your business needs it to can be a significant challenge. But developing your marketing so it sets you apart from your competitors will solve a number of your problems.
The concept behind brand positioning is to identify the place you want to take in the mind of your consumers. This is often closely tied to your unique selling point (USP) and business strategy. But how do you define your brand positioning and ensure it makes you stand out from the crowd?
The following format is often used to help brands develop their positioning:
To (target audience) Product X is the only (frame of reference) that (benefits delivered) because (reasons to believe).
Your whole business revolves around your brand positioning and it should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. In short, everything you produce should communicate your brand positioning in some way.
Relevance, differentiation and credibility
Your brand positioning must achieve three things:
- Show why it is relevant to your target consumers
- Communicate what it offers that your competitors don't
- Give reasons why consumers should trust you
Getting all three of these across to your target audience is essential if you want your brand positioning to be a success. But finding that unique thing that your company is able to offer and others don't can be difficult.
This approach has become particularly popular among supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl who show that customers pay much less at their checkouts than with their bigger and more-established rivals. They specifically call out their competitors and demonstrate how much money they are saving their customers.
However, there's another competitor-focused brand positioning method that prioritizes quality over price. Apple and Microsoft have long fought over consumers, showcasing the reasons why each of their prospective brands are better than the other, while broadband companies like Virgin Media consistently tout their superior performance.
Luxury items like hotels or spas have used this higher-level of quality as their main marketing ploy for years, but this can only be effective if they remember the importance of credibility in their brand positioning. Aiming to be the best comes with a great deal of responsibility for businesses as you need to ensure consumers come away happy after every interaction with you.
Understanding your audience is perhaps the most important part of developing your brand positioning as you need to know where you fit in their lives. This is evident in solution-focused approaches.
Consumers nearly always have a problem that they are looking for brands to solve. Maybe they are environmentally-conscious and want to use less plastic or they're looking for phone coverage that is reliable, these offer a unique but powerful place for brands to position themselves.
However, you need to ensure the claims you're making stand up to scrutiny. If you base your business on being able to offer something that no one else can, consumers finding out that you don't live up to their expectations could break your brand. This can be easily complemented by a marketing strategy that is built around testimonials or case studies, convincing your target audience of your credibility.
A number of major brands are using emotions to develop their brand positioning. Whether it's that you care about others or value your consumers more, speaking to the emotions of your target audience can be an effective way of building long-term relationships. The most interesting thing about emotive brand positioning models is that often they have nothing - or very little - to do with the product or service being sold.
Dove's iconic Be Beautiful campaign and Always Like A Girl ad both speak to emotions that they have identified their consumers to feel. This not only positions them as a brand capable of understanding them like no other but sets the foundation for long-term loyalty from its customers.
Getting brand positioning to pay off
Strong brand positioning is all about presenting consumers with an unique brand identity that sets you apart from your key competitors. It's also a valuable opportunity to add personality or a human aspect to your business, while still focusing on your objectives. The advantages of doing this is you're not selling consumers a single product, which comes with the risk of them losing interest once a bigger, cheaper or just newer version is released. Instead you are asking them to buy into the core values of your brand, maintaining their loyalty over a longer period of time.
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