Whether you are new to an existing market or you have decided to enter a new market or to release a new product, determining a brand/product positioning is a must. In this article you'll get to know how to get one step closer to managing your brand strategically and learn all important key points of a successful brand positioning.
Strategic brand management. What, who, how?
Strategic brand management is part of marketing management that executes your brand strategy. To grow your brand and its reputation you need to manage internal and external brand activities in a well thought out manner precisely in line with your strategy.
We mentioned the word "precisely" on purpose, as many companies deviate from their brand strategy and often lack consistency which leads to disappointment due to bad results and absence of growth.
Therefore, do not expect instant achievements of big goals, do not jump from one strategy to another, be patient and measure your progress on a regular basis taking into account different criteria for measuring your business growth.
When you met your wife/husband for the first time, love didn't happen that very second. It took some effort to create this magic between the two of you. A little attention, a date, who knows a bunch of roses for his/her birthday to make that, BOOM, one day the magic happened. You fell in love. However, that's not the end at all, you need to keep maintaining the attention you gave before to maintain the relationship.
Now, take this advice and project it towards your brand. You are building up relationships as well, not with the girl/boy of your dreams, but with potential customers. You are showing them that, as a brand, you are the perfect match for them. Not friends, but passionate lovers.
This makes that, for a successful implementation of your brand strategy, you need a competent brand manager and a well-skilled team that specialises (at least) in such fields as marketing, copywriting, UX/UI and brand design. Although the main domain of the team is strategic marketing, the competencies of the employees should be all-encompassing and cover various, complementary to marketing, areas.
Building a strong brand positioning
Often brand positioning can be very broadly defined. We like to think of it as of an act of designing the company’s image that helps to take a distinct and valued place in the target customers’ mind. Put simply, brand positioning is all about setting your business apart from the others, making your brand unique and memorable.
So, now let's position your company!
Three key questions to answer when building your brand positioning:
- Who is my target customer?
To address this question, you need to go from broad to narrow. Analysing your products or services, ask yourself who exactly could be interested in them, namely what are your brand persona's age, gender, occupation, hobbies, educational level and cultural background. Identify a target customer group and later break it down into more specific niches.
Obviously, you should not exclude customers whose profiles do not precisely match your criteria and stick to an extremely specific target. Be careful not to go too far when breaking down your target, there can be multiple niches! Though remember, the more specific you are in categorising your target customers, the easier it will be for you to do marketing.
Last but not least, online analytics tools that track traffic on your website and social media are good assistants at defining your target audience.
- Who are my main competitors?
Run a competitor analysis, ask yourself who are your competitors, what are they doing, why and how, how and how well they interact with their customers.
There are plenty of options to get this information. For instance, you can attend professional events and conferences, look into your competitor’s website and SEO strategy using Google Alerts, Google trends, SERP checker, Spyfu, ... Once you have defined your competitors, go through their marketing campaigns, check their social media content marketing and analyse their strengths and weaknesses.
Another way to better understand your competitors is simply to talk to your customers. It may not seem particularly feasible but it's just a matter of correctly asked questions. Customers know best what they like and dislike about your competitors and this is the most valuable intel you can get! This way you will ultimately know what your customers need and value.
- What similarities and differences are there between mine and my competitors' brands?
For a better understanding of what makes you unique from other brands and what you have in common with your competitors we recommend you to make analysis in terms of Points of Parity (PoP) and Points of Difference (PoD). You can do such assessment for both your company as a whole or a separate product for a more detailed comparison.
Points of Parity and Points of Difference
- Imagine you draw two circles. One of them is with your business' activities and values, the other one is the same but for your competitor. List all things that you think are unique about your company on the outer side of the circle and put those values and features you might share with the other company on the inner, neighbouring with the circle of your competitor.
PoP is any area where your business is considered the same as competitors from the customers' point of view. PoD is in turn the area where those aspects of products and services refer to a number of unique attributes and are perceived as favourable by your clients.
There are three segments of PoPs - category, competitive and correlational. They all serve different purpose and help you look into your competitive (dis)advantage more in depth.
When working on PoPs, it is always better to start with the category ones as they represent the most essential features of your business, something in absence of which you would not be able to operate. A common example would be a bank and ATMs, savings accounts, branches in convenient locations that it should provide.
Here you can read more about types of PoPs.
To conclude this section, we would recommend to keep a good balance between points of parity and points of difference. If you do not emphasise the former enough, your brand might appear to not be suitable for the target market. At the same time, if you are too reliant on them, you can get in a trap of replicating what your competitors are doing.
Getting to your perfect positioning statement
After finishing the "preparation" phase, we are now approaching the final and probably the most important phase of the brand positioning - designing a positioning statement. It should be fairly easy to come up with a good one since you have already completed a full business analysis based on the three key focus points we discussed earlier.
How to write a positioning statement?
The very first rule when writing a positioning statement is to make it short and concise. Normally, positioning statements should not exceed three sentences. Some experts insist that you should be able to fit it into just one sentence. Of course, the number of sentences is up to you, but do not forget to keep it short. It is a statement, not a novel!
Positioning statement framework
Once again, your company's positioning should be a description of how your brand meets the particular needs of a customer and what are its advantages over your competitors. In other words, the main goal of a good brand positioning statement is to highlight the uniqueness of your brand.
Positioning statement framework consists of five elements, so-called gaps that you need to fill in your statement, that cover the following topics:
- Your target audience
- Your market
- Your points of differentiation
- End benefit – the advantage consumers get from using your product.
- The reason to believe – state how you live up to the expectations and why to choose you over the competition.
First, define each element individually and later you can easily combine them in a text.
Here's an example of Digital Leap's positioning statement:
For companies who want to grow their business, Digital Leap is a digital marketing agency that will take care of its customers’ company starting from developing their website to creating a branding strategy, saving their time and delivering a high-quality product that will later turn into profit.
As you can see, to come up with one small statement you need to spend quite some time and effort on in-depth analysis of your business.
Only when you sorted it out for yourself what the value proposition of your product or service is, why it is unique and how it differs from other brands, you can proceed to writing your positioning statement.
Remember, you should keep it easy to understand. Try to re-read your positioning statement as if you were a customer. Is it clear what your brand is about? If you think that your positioning reflects how you want your customers to receive the company, then it's a success!
Do not confuse a brand positioning statement with the Vision/Mission statements, as despite some similarities, they are designed to deliver totally different messages to your customers. Lastly, be creative. You are not exactly tied to the positioning statement framework, as all businesses are unique and there is no universal formula.
Good luck with your brand positioning strategy!