There are over 250 footwear brands worldwide, but which comes to mind first when someone asks you to name a shoe company? Whether you say, Nike, Adidas, or Puma, these top-of-mind shoe brands all share something in common—mastering their brand positioning.
A brand is more than a logo, a tagline, or a color palette. It’s every interaction that your customers—and future customers—have with your company. The marketing and design teams at companies like Apple, Mcdonald's, and Lululemon know that those interactions need a solid foundation.
That foundation is brand positioning.
Do it right, and your brand becomes the iPhone (when people think of smartphones) or Heinz (when people think of ketchup).
Do it wrong, and your brand joins the ranks of the forgotten brands that might have had the right product but couldn’t find a way to connect with customers (here’s looking at you Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Zune, and Pan Am Airlines)
This post will break down what brand positioning is, help you figure out your brand positioning strategy and then help you craft the perfect brand positioning statement.
Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, defined brand positioning as the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the target market's mind.
Kotler pushed for marketing to become a discipline back in the 1960s.
Nowadays, the best brand positioning does more than create a positive perception—It informs customers about what your product or service does and positions it as the right choice based on price, value, benefits, and the problem it solves.
Take these two brand positions:
Which one creates a positive outcome for the audience?
The goal of brand positioning is simple—you want customers to think of your business whenever they need what you offer.
To verbalize your brand positioning, you need a brand positioning statement.
To visualize your brand positioning, all the work you put into the statement will help to create your brand package guide.
A brand package helps your design team create assets that communicate a cohesive message across all your marketing touchpoints—from slide decks to your website, packaging to billboards.
Before you whip out the pen and paper, let’s quickly talk about strategy.
Why do we buy what we buy at the supermarket? Peanut butter, for example, is just peanuts (yeah, sometimes oils, salt, and sugar), but why do we reach for one over another?
Top brands know the best strategies consist of points of differentiation and similarity between competitors and their target customers.
Follow these steps to find your customer:
Follow these points to understand your competition:
source: Jiffy Behance
Choosing the type of brand positioning you use demonstrates your USP while also highlighting weaknesses in the competition.
While it sounds straightforward, there are multiple ways to position your brand based on the overall market, your customers, and the competition.
Here are three of the most popular positioning strategies you can use:
Use the napkin analogy for brand positioning statements: If you can’t write down what your product does and why it’s valuable on the back of a napkin, it’s too long.
That said, the process to get to the napkin starts with a full plate of messy food.
The perfect brand positioning statement is a short, snappy, and succinct description that answers:
While this might seem like a mission statement, there’s a significant difference.
Your mission statement is something you share with the outside world.
Your brand positioning statement is for your team. It’s the foundation of your brand and shapes how you, and your organization, speak and interact with your customers.
Whether you’re a new brand with a blank canvas or looking to refresh an existing brand, you’ll start by understanding your brand’s position in the market.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (we promise it’ll be shorter than a thousand miles, it’s just an analogy)
Your brand positioning statement starts by asking:
Pro tip: Only asking for internal input on these questions can result in a sampling bias.
Therefore, experts recommend surveying current and potential customers to understand how they view your brand and how they feel about the problem you’re trying to solve.
Your goal at this stage is to discover gaps in how you want people to perceive your brand versus how they actually perceive it.
Imagine you’re a boxer preparing for a fight. Champion athletes and coaches know that investing time in researching and analyzing how their competition plays (or punches) will help you win.
The same logic works for crafting your brand positioning statement.
Choose five to ten of your closest competitors and conduct a thorough brand audit of their services.
Create a spreadsheet to build a competitive analysis on what they do right, where they have gaps, and where you can find an edge to position your brand above theirs in the market.
A brand positioning map is a tool to help you see the relative position of competing brands based on how customers perceive them.
These maps are two-dimensional charts where you plot out your competitors according to the criteria that drive brand selection. These criteria will vary by brand and category and include quality, price, value, or taste.
Here’s an example:
Imagine you’re a new pizzeria competing against Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s. In your competitor analysis, you spot differences in terms of price and quality.
On the brand positioning map, draw an X-axis with “inexpensive” on the left and “expensive” on the right. Then, on the Y-Axis, write “premium” at the top and “budget” at the bottom.
You can plot each company on the map based on what you know about their menus’ prices and quality. Mapping out these different criteria lets you visualize how your business differentiates and find a customer base you can grow.
Methodology: Based on the current price of large cheese pizzas from each establishment and reviews from around the world wide web.
One of the core parts of your brand positioning statement is detailing the features, advantages, and benefits your brand provides and what your target customers gain from picking your brand over the competition.
While a feature is easy to understand, many people confuse the advantages and benefits—an advantage is what the feature does and how it helps, and the benefit is how the consumer will ultimately use your product or service.
Saying what you do better, though, is only half of the work.
You also need to back up how you deliver on those claims—how do you guarantee the best price, the highest quality, or the ease of convenience?
This is the part of your positioning statement that becomes your brand promise. It typically lives at the end of your statement.
Break that promise, and you’ll lose your customers’ trust, but keep the promise, and you’ll turn customers into advocates.
Brand positioning statements are supposed to be short, but that doesn’t mean they’re quick and easy to craft.
There’s no one way to write your statement—each one is unique to the brand writing it.
Here’s an easy fill-in-the-blank template for creating brand positioning statements if you need a little inspiration.
[Your brand name] is/delivers [the core benefit that separates your business from the rest] for [your target customer/market] because [why they should believe you].
Your statement might not fit it perfectly, but it’s a simple way of understanding the critical elements that go into a brand positioning statement.
For consumers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery, Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site. Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence.
Tesla helps environmentally-progressive people who want to protect their environment and save money over the long haul. Tesla uses software to update their model automobiles and solves the environmental issues of using gasoline by going electric. It is for customers who want a combination of savings, innovation, and awareness.
Once you’ve created your brand positioning statement, it’s time to go back to the beginning and test your statement with potential customers.
Getting feedback will help ensure you have the right core message before creating your brand package and assets. The best statements shape all your messaging.
Getting it right is critical.
Creating great brand positioning gets every employee thinking in the same way and executing on the same promises.
Offering something different and separating yourself from the competition are critical tactics to generate demand for your brand and trust in what you deliver.
It keeps you in your lane, connects to your ideal customer, and focuses your efforts on them to yield better results.
If you are looking for professional help, we have you covered with our branding services.
Join our community of 30,000 who receive the best in design and marketing content, weekly.
Get high-quality creative, ship campaigns faster and stand out from the competition.
Never say no to another project request. Get a hassle-free creative partner that can keep up.
Allow your in-house creatives to focus on more strategic projects. Get new ideas & continuous design inspiration.
Increase your design capacity without additional hiring and with fewer vendors to manage.
Get a demo and discover how 450+ ambitious companies and 2,500 energized fans use Superside to free themselves from the shackles of limited budgets, broken processes and stretched in-house teams.