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What is brand positioning

Over 30,000 products are launched each year. Only a small percentage, about 5% to 10%, succeed. 

That means over 27,000 products fail each year. Often it is due to not understanding your market’s needs and preferences. It’s also hard to get customers’ attention when there are so many different options.

One way to get customers to buy your products is by defining your brand. Who are you? What makes you different? Why should we trust you and how you solve our problems? Those are questions answered in a brand positioning statement.

Can a product’s brand position help increase the chances of success? Yes, because a brand is like a familiar face or logo, and helps your customers understand and trust your product. Having a clear brand position helps you both attract new attention and convince customers to choose your business.

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Measure brand awareness and sentiment using SurveyMonkey's Brand Tracker.

The definition of a brand positioning statement is a description of who you are as a company, what products and services you offer, who your target market is, and what makes you unique.

Brand positioning helps to set you apart from your competitors. Consumers think of brands as an individual identity that they can remember. The Coca-Cola brand is different from the Pepsi brand, even though they are both colas, because they have different looks, tastes, legacies, associations.

Brand positioning could cover attributes of your products (like special features or high quality materials), your customer services, your company (for example, if you support to charitable causes), and more. 

Your brand helps customers remember who you are and how they feel about you. People feel strongly about brands, both positively and negatively. Those strong perceptions will influence how they feel about your new products.

Philip Kotler, the “Father of Modern Marketing” provided a brand positioning definition:

“The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.”

Your brand has to be distinctive and unique. People must know from your packaging, logo, and product design that they will like and enjoy your product. If they read about your product or business in a magazine, they should come away with a clear, crisp idea of who you are and what you do.

The better your customers remember your brand, the more likely they are to buy from you.

As marketers of a product, you want a strong, clear, statement of who your company is and why people should buy from you and not your competitor. Your research, discussions, and observations of the market will help you define what your brand is and who you serve.

Get insights into consumer preferences. SurveyMonkey’s Audience panel can help you understand what consumers think about your brand.

Audience video

A brand positioning statement should be written down, shared, and discussed. It might take days, weeks, or months to come up with a brand statement that people agree on and reflects your market presence. 

Your customers will also tell you what they think about you and your brand. Their feedback is valuable in defining who you are.

Documenting your brand positioning statement is important. One method is to start by filling in the blanks these sentences:

For [our target audience] [our brand] is the one in [our market] that best delivers on [our brand promise] because only [our brand] can [point of evidence of your value].

Here are some examples of brand positioning statements for large, successful companies.

“For the young and young-at-heart, Walt Disney World is the theme park that best delivers on an immersive and magical experience because Walt Disney World, and only Walt Disney World, connects you to the characters and worlds you most desire.”

“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.”

If you have several markets you serve, you will have more than one brand positioning statement.  Make sure your statement connects with each type of customer and offers a solution for their problems.

Start by auditing where you are currently. What are the market perceptions and how do they tie to your marketing messaging? You’ll need to take a step back and consider a few things. Is your messaging believable? Do customers respond positively? Has the market changed, and you need to update your statement?

Who is your target audience? You can start by creating target personas that detail who your customers are and describes what their lifestyle is like. Companies typically have several buyer personas that they sell to. Your brand positioning might be different for each one.

You’ll also want to know what challenges and problems your target market has. Do they value convenience, saving time, or feeling important? Your brand should solve those problems for customers to buy your products.

You’ll also want to assess whether your company has brand equity—meaning the share of attention that you command among consumers.  If you have loyal customers who are both aware of you  and have experience with your products and services, you have built equity. It is the sticky factor that helps attract new buyers. 

SurveyMonkey’s ultimate guide to concept testing can help you do your own concept testing research quickly and easily so that you can see where you stand, test ideas, and iterate.

You will also want to research your competitors to see what their brand identity is. This will help make sure your brand positioning statement is different so that your customers can clearly identify you. In markets that are highly competitive, you want to make sure you stand out in the crowd.

First, you want to identify your key competitors. Who are they? What is their market share in your industry? What key benefits do they offer?  Why do customers like them? What makes them unique and trustworthy?

The answers to these questions will help you understand what they are doing right. It will also tell you where you can do something better.  You may also discover that there is a gap in the market that shows an opportunity to sell new products and services. See how Allbirds conducts their brand tracking in the video below.

Allbirds

Netflix filled a gap in the market by letting customers watch movies at home without going to the video store. First, customers could order movies online and receive DVDs by mail of their favorite movies. Later, the company shifted to streaming. The result? They filled a market gap, created a competitive advantage, and put their competitor, Blockbuster Video, out of business. Their brand aligned itself—first and foremost—with the convenience of its customers. A reputation that customers were happy to pass along to friends and family.

Other factors to look at include your competition’s marketing, messaging, and pricing. 

For marketing, what channels do your competitors use? Are their products available in-store, online, or both? Do they advertise on social media, use television ads, or use a multi-level marketing program? You may want to use the same or different approaches if they are effective.

What is their messaging? How do they communicate what their product does and why it is unique in the market? You will want to have a voice of your brand that is your own, not a copy of someone else’s message.  

What is their pricing structure? Are they premium products with a high price tag? Or are they the low price leader? You’ll want to develop a pricing strategy that is profitable for your company yet competitive in your market.

Your marketing strategy should address your competitor’s strategy as well as your own. It will take time to research your own and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.  

Detailed research on your competitors will help make your brand identity clearer and more appealing to your ideal customers.

What makes Coke different from Pepsi?  Is it just the taste? The ingredients? Or is it just a perception? Between the two brands, they spend more than $2 billion a year to promote their brands and attract customers.

In your position statement, you can include what factors make your product unique. You’ll need to make sure that the difference is true (you didn’t make it up), valuable (your customer is willing to pay for it), and provable (you can verify your claims).

To point out how your product is different you can emphasize different features that benefit your customers.  Below are some differences and the products that use them.

  • Protects or improves you or your life (a home alarm system or insurance plan)
  • Works perfectly under pressure (an SUV driving up an icy mountain)
  • Is statistically impactful (a software solution that improves customers’ productivity by a quantitative amount)
  • Is guaranteed (an electronic you can return for a full refund)
  • Is used by celebrities (a beauty product)
  • Wins a head-to-head comparison (a cleaning product in a side-by-side analysis)
  • Makes the world a better place (an eco-friendly product or one that serves a social initiative)

Your brand should stand out from your competitor in terms of value, performance, packaging, and other aspects. It will help customers value