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

What Is a Brand Positioning Statement?

Customers usually buy a specific brand 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 can stay in the customer’s subconscious mind and will likely make the customer think of the company whenever it recalls any of the company’s products or a particular feature that makes it stand out.

The positioning statement has many conditions to fulfill 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 proposition 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

Brand Positioning: The Complete Guide to Establishing Your Brand

1. Relevant

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

2. Clear

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

3. Unique

A strong brand has a unique, credible, and sustainable position in the customer’s mind. This position should be unique, or it is of no use. If it is not credible, it will be found out and abandoned. If it is not sustainable, the competition will eventually creep in.

4. Desirable

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

5. Deliverable

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.

6. Points of difference

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

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

7. 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 5 Stages of Marketing Evolution

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

1. Commodity Selling

The manufacturer does not 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.

2. The Birth of Marketing (Brand as Reference)

Marketing starts when a manufacturer is faced with competition and customers have a choice.

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 new product, it 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.

3. 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.

4. Customer-Driven Branding

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

5. Postmodern Marketing 

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

The 3 Steps of Building the Right Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning: The Complete Guide to Establishing Your Brand

Step 1: Market Assessment & Market Research

Before building 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.

C1 – Context

The different stages of marketing evolution will be beneficial 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 apply 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 these factors will affect how you enter the market, the type of products you will introduce, and how you will sell these products.

C2 – Customers

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 their customers. This helps them develop and market products that appeal to their target audience.

C3 – Collaborators

When launching a new product or brand, one important aspect is to clearly understand 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 launching of a new product or brand.

C4 – Competitors

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’sMcDonald’sr King.
  • Indirect competitors are the businesses that sell a product or service in the same category as you. Still, it’s different enough to act as a substitute for your product or service. Like McDonald’sMcDonald’sy.
  • Replacement competitors (also called ‘phantom competitors’) are the businesses that sell a product or service different in category and type than you, but one your customers could choose to spend their money on instead. Like McDonald’s and brands selling frozen burgers, nuggets and fries.

C5 – Company

Evaluating your own company can be difficult. Business owners or marketers often underestimate or overestimate their capabilities. It would help if you answered 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 image do you have in the market?
  • What’s going on in the markets or with the products you already operate within?

Step 2: 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 dividing the market into smaller groups based on specific criteria. Segmentation aims to create groups of people with similar characteristics, needs, and behavior. This allows businesses to target their marketing efforts better.

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. This method would not be successful if there are significant differences among segments.

Market Segments

Segmentation is when you divide the market into groups 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 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. To be profitable in this market, businesses typically charge a higher price than usual. This is because there are fewer consumers in this market.

Step 3: Differentiation & Value Proposition

Definition of Value Proposition

A value proposition explains 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 from 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 and Have a Strong Value Proposition

Frame of Reference

Identifying your frame of reference is important 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

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 how you can stand out from the competition, you need first to make sure that you’re meeting all of the basics.

Points of Difference

The competitive edge of a brand today lies in deep insight and nuanced understanding of the target audience. In a 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.

About the Author Brian Richards

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