If you’re a marketer or work in the advertising field, you’ve most likely heard about the concept of ‘brand positioning’.

In this article, we explain brand positioning in simple terms and the best way to determine how to understand and define your brand position.

Firstly, what is brand positioning?

Brand positioning has been defined by Kotler as “The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”.

In other words, brand positioning describes how a brand is different from its competitors and where, or how, it sits in customers’ minds.

A brand positioning strategy involves creating brand associations in customers’ minds to make them perceive the brand in a specific way. For example, one car brand may be known for luxury and another brand may be known for affordability.

In a competitive market, you need to be known for something special and unique otherwise you blend in and don’t stand out. It is vital to differentiate your brand against the competition so that your business gets chosen first. Without knowing what your USPs (unique selling points) are, how will consumers know what to choose you for?

Large global corporations, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble have many products in the same category and without brand differentiation they wouldn’t be able to sell them. They differentiate their fast moving consumer goods by product features, ingredients, pricing and brand design.

How do you develop a strong brand position?

Step one:

  • Understand what your target market’s motivations and emotional and functional needs are.
  • Understand what drives them to make the purchase decision of your product or service?
  • Understand how the product or service make them feel.

Step two:

  • Understand what the brand strengths and unique selling points (USPs) of your brand are.
  • Once you’ve completed these steps, which involve exploring external factors to your brand, you then need to explore and interrogate what makes your make unique.

Step three:

  • Understand how your key competitors are positioning their brand.
  • What are their brand associations?
  • What makes them unique and compelling to consumers?
  • Are there any gaps that your business can offer that your competitors don’t?

Step four:

The final step in the process is a sense-check to ensure that your unique brand qualities are definitely unique and not owned by a key competitor.

  • Check that the unique qualities of the brand are not owned elsewhere or are a major strength of a competitor brand.
  • Are your brand strengths compelling to the target market? If they are not, then it’s best to park that strength and focus on what your target market values.

Can you have just one unique selling point?

It’s very rare to have one USP or one key differentiator in today’s world. Except for innovators who introduce completely new products or services in a category, most brands need multiple strengths to hand their hat on.

In the majority of cases, it’s a combination of a brand’s several USPs that make a brand differentiated and stand out in market. It’s recommended to focus on 3 to 5 unique qualities.

A brand positioning has to be a reflection of the business

There are three key criteria for judging whether a positioning is ‘right’ for a business or brand:

It must be believable

It must already exist within the company. It must reflect and reinforce current culture and behaviour for staff, and it must be seen to be something that brands ‘could’ say from the outside.

Too often brands attempt to position themselves in a way they believe will interest customers, but in a way that is so far removed from the core of the business, that it is simply not believable.

It must be differentiated

There is little point in saying the same thing as your competitors. It is important that a brand creates its own distinct position within the category.

It must be meaningful

It must be of genuine interest to consumers to drive brand preference and be aligned to their emotional needs.

If you’d like help with defining your brand position in market, reach out to us for a chat. Our brand team would love to help. We also invite you to check out some of our recent branding projects.

Kate Wright

Brand Strategist & Account Manager