It is important to come up with a brand positioning when introducing a new product or brand. This will guide the marketing mix strategy and help marketers make better decisions.

A brand’s positioning strategy is the backbone of the brand strategy and determines whether the brand will be successful. If the positioning strategy is in line with the needs and wants of the target market, the brand will be successful. However, if the positioning strategy is wrong, even a good product can fail.

What is a Brand Positioning Statement?

The reason that customers usually buy a specific brand is because that brand is positioned well, even if the product does not differ significantly from the competitors’ products.

Positioning creates a connection between the customer and the business. This connection will always stay in the customer’s subconscious mind, and will make the customer think of the company whenever they hear about any of the company’s products or a particular feature which makes it stand out.

The positioning statement has many conditions to fulfil in order to be effective:

  • Firstly, it must be simple and easy to remember. 
  • Secondly, it has to be clearly oriented towards the target group. 
  • Thirdly, it has to contain a value proposal that is credible, relevant and unique for that target group. 
  • Lastly, it has to include a clear frame of reference against competitors and be flexible enough to accommodate potential changes. 

Brand Positioning Basics: What Is Positioning?

Positioning is the central idea of your marketing plan and the most important part of your branding strategy. In other words, positioning is the process of creating a company offering that is relevant to a specific group of people.

The concept of positioning has evolved over time and has become one of the key concepts in any marketing strategy. This allows us to identify a brand’s target audience and develop a value proposition that appeals to them.

Characteristics of a Good Brand Positioning Strategy


The positioning strategy you decide should be relevant to the customer. If the customer finds the positioning irrelevant while making the purchase decision, you will lose.


Your message should be clear and easy to communicate in order to make your coffee brand stand out from the competition.


If it’s not credible, it gets found out and ditched. And if it’s not sustainable, the competition will eventually creep in. A strong brand is one that has a unique, credible, and sustainable position in the customers’ mind.

This position should be unique, or it is of no use. If it is not credible, it will be discovered and abandoned. If it is not sustainable, the competition will eventually creep in.


The product should have a unique feature that is desirable and that can influence the customer’s decision to buy it.


A promise should be something that can be delivered. If a promise is not kept, it will lead to a negative opinion of the brand.

Points of difference

Your customer should be able to easily tell the difference between your brand and your competitor’s brand.

Recognizable Feature

The unique feature of your product should be recognizable by the customer. This includes keeping your positioning simple and in a language which is understood by the customer.

Validated by the Customer

Your positioning strategy won’t be successful until you get validation from the customer. They are the ones who will decide if you stand out or not. Therefore, try to see things from their perspective when deciding your strategy.

The Evolution of Marketing

The marketer is always changing to adapt to the environment, much like the theory of the ‘selfish gene’. This means that they are constantly in competition with other companies to try and survive, while the consumer’s environment is also constantly changing.

Benetton, Nike, Tango, The Body Shop, and Virgin are all examples of brands that have been successful because of the “selfish genes” of their creators, who have been focused on survival. In biological evolution, gene mutations or irregularities are responsible for the step-changes in development.

In marketing, break-all-the-rules advertising campaigns or breakthrough product inventions are often what make a company or product recognized. These rules are only seen as rules once they’ve already been broken.

The 5 Stages of Marketing Evolution

The market and environment need to be understood thoroughly in order to identify if your product needs positioning and to build the right positioning. Global marketers have realized that marketing differs across different parts of the world.

Commodity Selling

The manufacturer has no need to develop a brand name or advertise their product in this market because they are assured that their product will be sold and there is little to no competition.

The manufacturer does not segment their customer base and only cares about sales volume and price. They have the power and as long as the product sells, they don’t care about consumers.

The Birth of Marketing (Brand as Reference)

When a manufacturer is faced with competition and customers have a choice, marketing starts.

The branding process begins with the stamping of the maker’s name on the product. The goal is to make the product more noticeable or more attractive to potential buyers. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as making it more colorful or changing its shape.

If a company is selling a product that is new, they can use what is called a “straight sell.” However, if there is competition, they will have to use a “hard sell” which can be annoying to customers who are already familiar with the product.

Classic Branding 

A brand’s personality is no longer determined by the manufacturer, but by the brand itself.

The transition from marketing to classic branding is never seamless, for consumers or companies. The focus shifts from hawking the product to winning over the customer. This involves studying consumer emotions and letting them guide the branding strategy.

Customer-Driven Branding

This market is more developed than most. The brands that were founded during the second stage are now probably the leaders in their categories. As the market becomes more crowded, some brands have the potential to become iconic.

Postmodern Marketing 

Postmodernism in marketing refers to the growing awareness of consumers about marketing techniques and their increased individualism. This results in consumers being less susceptible to marketing campaigns and more likely to make individualistic choices.

Steps of Building the Right Brand Positioning

Market Assessment & Market Research

Before you can begin to build your brand, you need to have a thorough understanding of the market you want to enter. This includes understanding the industry, your consumers, and your competition. Only then will you be able to identify a space for your brand to fill.

The Five C’s Analysis (CCCCC)

Market research is essential to assess and validate the viability of an idea for positioning.


The different stages of marketing evolution will be immensely helpful when you do a context assessment. You know now that each country or region may be at a different stage and even within the same country, some industries and categories may be ahead of the other.

This will help you understand the current state of marketing in each area and make better decisions about your marketing campaigns.

When discussing context, marketers generally refer to the PEST factors. PEST refers to political, economic, social, and technological factors. To be applicable to a market and product, these factors must be very specific.

PEST factors tackle questions such as:

  • What is the political situation in the country where you’re trying to reach out? 
  • What’s going on in terms of legislation? 
  • How does it apply to your product? 
  • What’s going on in terms of growth, unemployment and inflation? 
  • What is the income distribution across different segments? 
  • What’s the status of technology? 

All of these factors will affect the way you enter the market, the type of products you will introduce, and how you will sell these products.


The second C in the acronym stands for customers. Great brands like Amazon and Apple follow a customer-centric strategy in order to meet the expectations and needs of their customers.

The most important aspect of market research for companies is understanding who their customers are. This helps them develop and market products that will appeal to their target audience.


One important aspect when launching a new product or brand is to have a clear understanding of the weight and role each party involved will play in the logistics and execution process.

In the healthcare industry, for example, several parties are involved in the process, such as dealers, doctors, and insurance companies, all of which can affect the launching of a new product or brand.


The most common C is competitors. It’s natural to analyze your competition in the market. Every business does it. Identifying competitors is a tough task. You have to really scan and read the market well and be present. When you identify competitors, you have three types to consider: direct, indirect, and replacement.

  • Direct competitors are the businesses that sell a similar product or service in the same category as you. These are the competitors you most often think about. Like McDonald’s and Burger King.
  • Indirect competitors are the businesses that sell a product or service in the same category as you, but it’s different enough to act as a substitute for your product or service. Like McDonald’s and Subway.
  • Replacement competitors (also called ‘phantom competitors’) are the businesses that sell a product or service that’s both different in category and type than you, but one which your customers could choose to spend their money on instead. Like McDonald’s and brands selling frozen burgers, nuggets and fries.


Evaluating your own company can be difficult. Business owners or marketers often underestimate or overestimate their capabilities. You must answer questions such as:

  • What are your company’s resources?
  • Where does it stand? 
  • What is your company especially good at? 
  • What are your limitations? 
  • Which kind of run image do you have in the market? 
  • What’s going on in the markets or with the products you already operate within?

Segmentation & Finding a Target Group

The main point of segmentation is to break your audience into more manageable chunks. For most businesses, you don’t only sell to one type of customer.

Segmentation Levels

Segmentation is the process of divide the market into smaller groups based on specific criteria. The purpose of segmentation is to create groups of people who have similar characteristics, needs, and behavior. This allows businesses to better target their marketing efforts.

Mass Market

The size of the segments can be varied to fit the needs of the market. Segmentation always starts with the mass market.

This is when you target a general market without specifying any particular segment. This only works well when the preferences of the market are very similar. If there are significant differences among segments, then this method would not be successful.

Market Segments 

Segmentation is when you divide the market intogroups according to age, gender, income, or geographic location. You create a value proposition specifically designed for each group.

Market Niche

Niche marketing means finding a small market segment and catering to its specific needs. This can involve narrowing down your target audience to a very specific group, such as 20-25-year-olds who listen to the same band.

This refers to a market that consists of a small group of individuals with specific needs. In order for businesses to be profitable in this type of market, they typically charge a higher price than usual. This is due to the fact that there are fewer consumers in this market.

Differentiation & Value Proposition

Definition of Value Proposition

A value proposition is an explanation of what makes your product relevant, different, interesting, or generally worth paying for. A product is a set of tangible attributes such as material, composition and features. All of these physical attributes combined with other intangible ones form the benefits that are going to be perceived by customers. Intangible attributes are the values associated with the brand, like trust, image, quality, etc.

Tools to Differentiate & Have a Strong Value Proposition

Frame of Reference

It is important to identify your frame of reference before continuing with your research or building your value proposition. The frame of reference is the market you will be competing in and includes closely related categories or potential categories.

Points of Parity

In order to be considered by customers, your offering must meet the essential attributes in your frame of reference. Of course, these attributes must be essential from the consumer’s perspective.

A common error that startups often make is bypassing the basics and going straight to differentiation. However, this usually leads to disastrous results. Before focusing on ways in which you can stand out from the competition, you need to first make sure that you’re meeting all of the basics.

Points of Difference

Second lesson: The edge of a brand today, lies in deep insight and nuanced understanding of the target audience. In the commercial, Audi refers to other heritage brands in order to show that it understands what its target audience wants.

Audi also shows that it is a sporty, comfortable, and safe option, which are all things that its target audience cares about.


The article started by saying that now is the time to put the actual phrasing for your positioning statement. This is because you have studied and analyzed the competition, the environment, and the customer’s needs. You have also identified your chosen segment and have understood its behavior.

About the Author Brian Richards

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