Choosing a brand position stance is one of the most important aspects of your business. You can’t simply create a tagline or design a logo and expect to rise to the top of the competition. In order to be successful, you need to put thought into how your company will be seen by customers (and competitors) and what will set you or your business apart.
With that being said, what exactly is brand positioning? The goal of brand positioning is to make sure you are being seen by your niche audience as desirable, competitive, and able to solve your customers’ problems. It’s not so much as a ‘what’, but rather as a ‘how.’ There are several brand positioning strategies, and not all are created equally.
This article will cover all aspects of who needs brand positioning (spoiler alert: everyone), how to choose and create an effective strategy, and how the right agency can help your business reach its goals.
Any company that is looking to stand out amongst their competition and create a target niche of customers needs to design an effective brand positioning strategy. If you’re a restaurant, retail clothing brand, sporting goods store, or providing a service such as bookkeeping, dog grooming, or cosmetology, you need brand positioning.
Show your clientele that you offer premium goods or services for a good value. (Note: value doesn’t always mean the least expensive). It is key to demonstrate that you lead the market in customer service, quality, and highly evolved products or solutions. What makes you different? What do you offer that no one else does? Show your customers that they are putting their hard earned money into a company that will meet their expectations with favorable results.
Choosing a brand positioning strategy for your unique business needs is crucial for success. You have the choice to either position your brand proactively or let your consumers do the work. Overall, the most important features of any strategy are showcasing what sets your business apart, being relevant to your target market, and staying consistent with your voice.
As you read through these types of brand positioning strategies, think about where you’ve seen them in the real world, and which would best suit your company.
Everyone wants to get more for less. However, you don’t want to come across as ‘cheap.’ If your company has a cost advantage, make sure your market knows about it! Don’t let yourself be beaten out by others offering the same products for less; let people know that you offer what everyone else does for a better deal.
The challenge here is that people often associate low cost with low quality. Make sure you’re showing value instead of just a lower price. Consider costs over time, as well; inflation is no one’s friend when you’re promising a price forever (think Subway’s $5 Footlong. You can probably recall and sing the jingle, but did it last?)
What do you offer that no one else does? Where and what is your specialty of expertise? Be on the lookout for other companies who begin to offer services that used to be your niche, and have a plan for how to continue to set yourself apart.
This is a strategy specifically for technologically advanced companies who have figured out how to offer something that has never been done before. Consider Tesla, for example, with their fully electric cars that come with advanced artificial intelligence. A computer and a car in one for the general population of car owners! You’ll need to be able to back up your findings and claims with research and science, and prepare to answer questions about how you’re company operates or actually works, and educating and informing your audience.
Does your company have extensive experience working with a particular customer base? You can use that as your marketing strategy. Know beforehand that others will come in and say the same thing, so make sure you have qualities that continue to set you apart.
Think about using this strategy if you offer something in the vein of professional services that assist with high-level or specialized needs, such as accounting, financial planning, or real estate management. However, be prepared to have a backup plan if an economic crash is on the horizon; your industry may not be as essential when there isn’t excess money to spend.
Who in a company are you targeting? CEOs? HR Managers? Financial Planners? Know your target audience and seek them out. Show how you specialize in their particular needs and meet their demands and expectations.
This is similar to using your strategy for a specialized industry or a niche audience, but instead, you’re targeting a group of people who all have a need that only you can meet. Know that other companies and businesses can easily hone in on what you’re doing and specialize themselves in the same way; be prepared to keep evolving to stay relevant and competitive.
Traditionally, this position isn’t the most reliable, but it can be effective when done right. Anyone can say, “We offer the highest quality of service.” However, if you can show that you do (i.e., reviews, customer testimonials, showing you rank #1 across all areas) it’s perfectly fine to market that success!
This could also be worked for the quality of your product. Is what you’re offering going to last years and years, while your competition will only last for a few uses? People are willing to pay more for something that is going to last longer.
If you’re a company that needs to highlight customer service since you’re usually known for vertical, inattentive support, or if you have a complicated product, it’s good to show that you can support your customers as well. This is a great strategy for making a higher price point well worth the financial parting. Aren’t you happy to shell out hundreds of dollars for the newest iPhone every year, knowing that you’ll get not only a quality product but friendly, day-and-night support? If you’re going to use this, make sure that your products and team can back up what you’re promising.
Why is your product or service easier to use than the competition? Are you in a better location, is your platform more user-friendly, or do you offer a wider range of accessibility options?
Businesses benefiting from this strategy have products geared toward those with busy, full lifestyles who need more and more modern conveniences to save them time and energy. Consumers will be willing to pay more for something that solves their problems more efficiently and effectively.
This convenience can be difficult to stand by, though, if you have a service or product that you’re offering across multiple platforms and you don’t have the resources to train a support team in all those areas.
Rather than this positioning strategy being about what you offer, this is about where you are putting your advertising efforts.
Many businesses think that they need to be active on all social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, and anything else that rises in popularity. Instead, choose the platforms that your target market spends time on the most and where they tend to purchase from.
If your business is targeting a specific generation, such as Millennials or Gen Xers, find the platform that they use. Don’t be afraid to be silly, a bit crude, or laugh at yourself if that’s the type of attention that your target market is known for paying attention to. Here, it’s especially important to be relevant and current of your target market wants and needs.
To create an effective brand positioning strategy, you need to follow a tried-and-true set of steps to ensure that you are considering all angles and focusing on all aspects of how you will be viewed by your potential customers.
How are you seen right now? Are you slipping through the cracks, or seen as the same as everyone else? It can be helpful to determine your mission, vision, and values, and work from those to determine what sets you apart. What voice and persona do you want to emulate?
A ‘brand essence’ chart should show seven different components that organize the complete idea of where you stand:
Creating a chart can give you and your team an easy visual that can be referenced as you go along the journey of creating your positioning statement.
Not only do you need to know who you are, but it’s crucial to define who your competitors are. First, you must identify them. Second, analyze their positioning strategies.
What are they doing that you aren’t, and how can you match that? What is their position in the market? You can do this through market research, customer feedback, and social media attention.
Your unique value proposition (UVP) is what sets you apart from everyone else. As you analyze your competition, you should notice some patterns. Think about where you’re an outlier and how that might be a strength.
Finding one key takeaway for your customers can seem overwhelming at first. It can help to start with a big, overarching idea and then move on to the smaller elements. For example, your framework could look like this:
Use all this knowledge that you’ve been formulating and create a one- or two-sentence quip that shows who you are in relation to “everyone else” (this is your elevator pitch). Show who your niche market is, what you offer them, what benefits you provide, and how you can prove it.
The work is never done. You need to constantly be considering and analyzing what you’re putting out is coming back to you with the results you desire. Test, gather feedback, adjust, and grow. Look at data and performance analytics and adjust along the way if needed.
All humans want to have an emotional connection at their deepest level. Do they trust you? Does choosing you make them feel positive? Would they want other people to know that they are your customer?
We keep saying it, but it’s crucial. Why should someone choose you over the myriad of other possibilities out there? Your customer should be able to easily identify why you are the right choice.
This doesn’t mean the least expensive offering. Your product or service should solve a problem or create convenience for your clientele. People are willing to part with their money when that money helps them overcome a challenge.
Which of your employees do your customers see? Who is the representation of your brand? They should be encompassing the values that you stand for and be strong, aligned representations of your company’s voice.
Just because you know what to do, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Challenges are a part of every aspect of business—a successful company knows how to overcome those challenges and how to apply energy towards them efficiently.
Oftentimes you’ll do all the work to ensure that people see your company a certain way, and things simply get lost in translation. This, too, means you need to adapt and overcome.
Here are some of the challenges that many companies face when deciding how to determine brand positioning, and what to do when they appear.
Effective brand positioning brings in customers and profits and can make you a household name. It means your product or service resonates with your target market and makes loyal customers out of potential leads.
How do you know your campaign is working? Listen to your customers. Get feedback and then adjust in whichever direction the feedback shows. If what you’re doing is working, keep going! If it isn’t, look again and see where improvements can be made.
Are your profits increasing and are you bringing in more customers from your competitors? What is being said about your products or company on social media? Are you interacting with your intended targeting audience and who you are trying to reach? You can get creative here.
For example, try adding “secret shoppers” into the mix, getting a feel for how people perceive you when they don’t know it’s in fact you who is seeking the information. Paid ads with a control and a variable statement for and against your business could also help you understand how people feel about what you’re offering.
Even if you don’t use these particular companies’ products, these brand positioning examples are probably something you may already be familiar with.
A green mermaid with wide-lined waves graces the side of a white cup. You know that person has a double soy half-caf latte with two shots and three pumps of hazelnut syrup. Starbucks has always focused on the experience, the customization, and the fact that you shouldn’t have to get through your day without your coffee exactly the way you like it. As a result, people choose to go out of their way (not that they usually have very far to go, there’s one on every corner) to get their fancy fix daily—often in the morning, afternoon, and sometimes after work, too.
The Apple brand has almost a ‘cult-like’ following. If you’ve fallen in love with one product, you probably have more than one apple product in your household (or everything they have to offer). An Apple user subscribes to the Apple lifestyle. Apple Music touts its expansive library of songs (60 million+) and highlights exclusive availabilities such as on-screen lyrics and videos, which competitors don’t offer (or don’t offer for their entire library). How do they keep people coming back for more? Everything you pay for is yours… as long as you keep your subscription active. But people pay it month in and month out with a smile while reaching for their Air Pods.
Don’t tell us you don’t want a Spicy Chicken Sandwich right now. You better hope it isn’t Sunday! But if it is, you’ll probably just think to yourself, “That’s so great, their employees must be so happy to always have that day off. I’ll be back around tomorrow!” Chick-Fil-A makes you feel so good when there, that you’re willing to compromise the six-days-a-week availability. Their employees are trained to use your name when they bring you your food, making you feel important and appreciated. They don’t have a whole host of offerings like McDonald’s, which allows them to offer fresh, high-quality ingredients at a decent price point. It keeps people coming back for more.
Brand positioning is at the highest level of something you’ll look for in a branding company. Certain companies only offer the visuals, such as graphic design. Some offer the creation of your taglines, messaging, and website copy which makes people associate you with certain phrases. Positioning, however, incorporates your business plan and the structure of how you present yourself to the world.
When you’re searching for a branding company, make sure what they’re offering (and asking) is what you’re searching for (and are willing to invest in).
Experienced firms that offer full branding packages can range from $10,000 to $50,000 (or upwards), depending on their size and expertise. For example, a firm specializing in small-town restaurants is going to charge something different than a company that works with brands such as Coca-Cola and Tinder. Do your research and choose a company whose offerings fit your goals.
Both agencies and in-house branding offer brand positioning services that have their place in the market. The cost range can vary, as do pros and cons, including how well they deliver on results.
The phrase, “Let’s get a new set of eyes on this,” applies here. There’s no match for a fresh perspective and outside inspiration. People who work for your business, but aren’t directly related to it, have an objective opinion that prevents tunnel vision.
Using a separate team also brings in the experience of every other company the team has worked with. They know how other competitors are faring in the field and how to use that knowledge to benefit you. They also come together with skillsets that are greater than anything your in-house team has since brand positioning is their specialty.
The price point is often flexible, too, with teams offering packages based on what you can invest at any given time in your business plan (plus, you don’t have to pay for their insurance premiums, extra office space, supplies, overtime, etc.). An agency is almost always guaranteed to get you your product on time, or will be able to give you accurate measurements of how long something might take if it’s going to stretch out over time.
An in-house creative team means you need to put aside a significant portion of funding to supply employees, benefits packages, office space, training, and development resources, etc. It can seem more cost-effective at the beginning, but when factored in, it often ends up costing more than you originally planned.
In-house branding can keep a team connected and provide a deep understanding of what your brand is working toward. You know your employees are dedicated to the mission and vision of your brand. You’re also on your own timeline, which can be seen as a benefit or as a hindrance if it’s too easy for the tasks to get pushed off in favor of more pressing internal matters.
Almost always, a hybrid approach is the way to go. Most companies find success hiring a team of experts that offers brand positioning services relevant to many areas. The consultants should know how to help guide your internal resources and employees to make the right decisions throughout the process.
A hybrid approach values what your internal team brings to the table. There are benefits to people who know your company and who have real-world experience with your brand. There is a benefit to choosing a branding team that does this day in and day out. You can invest in an internal, creative employee who works with an outside team that allows for scalability up and down based on the ebbs and flows of your profit.
Matrix Point is well-positioned to help you with your brand positioning strategy. We know how to identify your company’s UVP and how to position your brand in the market for success. As a specialty consulting firm, we help you navigate the complexities of marketing yourself in a digital landscape.
When you choose someone to help you with your company’s strategy, you want to know that they will help you accomplish your goals. We know the importance of brand positioning and have helped companies across the board make themselves known in their industry. Our team of consultants, privacy and compliance experts, and engineers work together to analyze data, predict future trends, adapt to change and challenges, and help you outperform your competition.
Reach out to us for a consultation. We want to show you how to create brand positioning and how we can bring your business to the top to maximize visibility, profits, and long-term success.