Blog header image: Brand Positioning 101 article.
Brand Management

Brand Positioning 101: What It Is and Why You Need It

June 21, 2021 7 minute read
What does 'brand positioning' really mean? And how can you take steps towards creating a unique and memorable brand position?
Blog header image: Brand Positioning 101 article.

Brand positioning is so much more than how well your logo stands from other companies. It’s how your brand’s vision, product, and identity are strategically positioned in a market saturated with other companies. And, more importantly, it’s what you’re known for in your customer’s mind. Your audience ultimately decides where you sit compared to your competitors.

If you want your customers to think of you first when they’re ready to buy, you have to position your brand with a clear, strategic foundation. For example, many people automatically think of Warby Parker when looking to buy glasses online. We’ll take a closer look at what they did to create their unique brand position later in this article. But first, let’s get a little more specific about what brand positioning actually is, the advantages of doing it well, and outline a simple brand positioning framework to help you get started.

What is brand positioning?

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Brand positioning is the space your brand and products hold in the market and in the minds of your customers. To say it in another way, Phillip Kotler, marketing author and professor, defined brand position as “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.”

What do you want your customers to think of when they hear your company’s name or see your logo? For example, you may want to be known as “the go-to brand for high-end electric trucks.” Easy to say, hard to do. To make that simple statement into a reality, you’ll need a clear strategic approach, a playbook of tactics, and to present your brand consistently across all channels to get the advantages of brand positioning.

Advantages of brand positioning

A unique and memorable brand position comes with a long list of advantages. At the top is the reward of being the company people think of first when they want to buy the product you sell. That often takes years, even decades, or the creation of a whole new market (think of brands like Coke, McDonald’s, and Tesla). Even if you can’t achieve that top spot you can still reap the rewards of a strong brand position.

  • People think of your brand first when they are ready to buy
  • Clear differentiation from the competition
  • Strengthened connection with your audience
  • Better understanding of your customers’ challenges 
  • Higher relevance in conversations about your market
  • Customers feel good about paying your higher price point
  • Faster internal decision making around branding and product mix — now you have a clear understanding of who you are and what you sell

What is an example of brand positioning?

When you think about ordering high-quality glasses online, who do you think of? There’s a high probability Warby Parker rings a loud bell. Even if you didn’t know what they sell, you still likely recognize the name. That’s a strong brand position and they created it by creating a customer experience no one else thought was possible. People wanted to buy glasses online, but they needed to try them on first. Warby Parker figured out how to solve that problem and it made them one of the most well-known US e-commerce brands.

Can you even think of a Warby Parker competitor? Pair Eyewear, Fedon, and Lenskart are the big ones. Ever heard of them? Chances are you haven’t. Warby Parker created such a successful brand that the general public doesn’t even know the names of most of their top competitors. Now, your company isn’t likely to earn this strong of a brand position, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to work and create a clear brand positioning framework. 

Brand positioning framework — what you need

Brand positioning strategies come in all shapes and sizes. If you work with an agency, you’ll likely end up with a nicely finished brand position book with Venn diagram images showing your brand amongst your competitors. But you don’t need to invest in an agency to create your own brand positioning strategy. Start by thinking about where you want to focus. Is your brand position going to be based on customer service, price, quality, convenience, or some new experience or product? Walk through the following steps to create a simple brand positioning framework.

1. Competitor identification and research

Who are your competitors? You know, the same companies that you talk about in meeting rooms. Which one created the customer experience you had on your roadmap before you got to it? Who are the brands that customers turn to when you’re out of stock? Go research them. 

Identify five of your immediate competitors. What problems do they solve? What do they do better than you? Worse? Take a look at their visual brand, their website, and their mobile experience. Make notes about what they’re doing well and what you think they’re missing. Pay particular attention to the price of their product, their customer service experience, the quality of their product or service, and the convenience they provide to buyers.

2. Competitive differentiation — what makes your brand unique?

Now that you have your five main competitors identified and researched, direct a critical eye to your own brand. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in all of the areas you outlined for your competitors. Put your company profile side by side with them and see what makes your brand unique. 

Is it the sizing info you offer on your website? The customer service and return policy? The mobile experience? Your product content? Your target price? Define what sets you apart and use these findings as the foundation to craft your brand positioning statement. 

3. Brand positioning statement

Take what makes your brand unique and compress it into a single paragraph that describes your brand position. This will take some rounds of work and lots of winnowing.

For example, Trader Joe’s refers to itself as a “national chain of neighborhood grocery stores.” And this mindset is threaded through their business plan as well — from their approach to budgeting and company growth to the look and feel of their stores. With this level of clarity, Trader Joe’s knows who they sell to, what they want to inspire in their customer’s lives, and how to make other important business decisions. 

Once you refine your own brand positioning statement, the next step is to get clear about the brand elements that can help you define your position in the market. 

4. Brand elements that reflect your unique selling proposition (USP)

With a strong brand positioning statement, it’s time to get clear about which brand elements can help you position your company and products where you want them. Does your tagline line up with your positioning statement? Is your logo really communicating that you sell high-end products? Here are some of the main elements you need to clarify and communicate your brand positioning statement.

Make sure all of these reflect your brand position to the best of your ability.

Create your brand positioning strategy today

Now you know what a brand positioning strategy is, the advantages of having one, and you’ve got a basic framework to start creating your own. You might have a long way to go until your customers think of your brand first when they want to buy your product, but don’t let that stop you from getting started.

Positioning your brand takes coordination, consistency, and lots of content. And managing your content so it can be used efficiently requires the right tools. A digital asset management (DAM) solution helps support and scale your brand management efforts. Request, watch, or click through a demo to see our DAM platform, the Acquia DAM (Widen), in action. 


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