If you cut your finger, do you ask for a bandage or a Band-Aid? Have you ever caught yourself saying you would “FedEx” something instead of express shipping it? Making a Xerox instead of a copy? Though varied in their function, all those companies have something in common, excellent brand positioning.
Brand positioning is basically the image a customer holds in their mind of you, your company, or your product. The closer that image is associated with quality and credibility, the better that company’s brand positioning. Band-Aid, Xerox, and FedEx are all so ubiquitously associated with their respective functions that people use the company name as a verb. In the customer’s mind, a bandage and a Band-Aid are one and the same.
Here, we’ll go into what brand positioning is in more detail and technically define the term, then explore the ways good positioning can bolster a business’s success.
What’s Brand Positioning?
Brand position is the process of positioning your brand in the minds of customers relative to the competition. Though it involves elements like taglines, logos, and design, it isn’t defined by any one of these things. Rather, it’s the image they form as a whole when a potential customer thinks of your brand. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors, why they should choose your brand over all the others and keep coming back.
According to the marketing blog HubSpot, brands with consistent, good positioning see an average increase in their revenue of 23%. It also results in higher customer loyalty. When people equate your brand with quality and reliability, they don’t need to go anywhere else.
Take the pump company Gardner Denver, for example. In 2013, a company made a bid to buy Gardner Denver for $3.4 billion. You might not have heard of them, but their contemporaries had, and that value translated into a sky-high offer. In fact, the annual report on that company’s value that year calculated that almost half its value (43%) was “goodwill and other intangible assets.”
So, how can you position your brand? Start with a brand positioning statement. Ask yourself questions that will help define your product, your business, and your voice.
- Who are your target customers?
- What value do you want your brand to bring them?
- How do you want them to think of your company?
- What are your values, and what makes you different from the rest of the businesses in your market?
All these things can help make up a detailed and successful brand positioning statement to serve as your North Star.
“We all like connecting with brands that sound and feel authentic to us,” said Matylda Chmielewska of LiveChat’s partner program told HubSpot. “Instead of building a complex lingo that no one will be able to understand, just talk human. Start with researching who your audience is and use their language.”
Once you’ve got your statement down, you’ll want to determine who your competitors are and research them to find out what they’re doing and how you can either differentiate or do it better. Once you’ve got your statement and an idea of where you stand in the market, test it out. Determine what works and what doesn’t, then iterate and update accordingly.
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How Can Brand Positioning Help My Company?
Now that we know what brand positioning is and how to start formulating it for your business, let’s talk about some of the specific benefits offered when it’s done correctly, highlighted with some solid brand positioning examples.
It differentiates your business.
As we discussed above, good brand positioning can help you stand out in a potentially crowded marketplace. You can offer a product similar to others and still succeed by filling an unmet need within that space or providing a higher level of service than people conventionally get. Banking app Simple, for example, created what could be the first all-digital bank at at a time when major banking institutions like Bank of America were still struggling to get their apps off the ground.
Good positioning breaks through the static of the market.
When you target the buyers, you know will be the most receptive to your message and get the most out of your product, you cut out a lot of the background static of the crowded seller marketplace. With every business and entrepreneur trying to get their product in front of people’s eyes, being smart about who you reach out to can work wonders.
It simplifies decisions for the consumer.
Most consumers aren’t overly excited to comb through myriad offerings for the same product. Good brand positioning can help make it easy for them to choose you by communicating why you’re different from the competition, and therefore best for them, as quickly as possible. Jet Blue set itself apart from Delta Airlines’ more traditional ad campaign aimed at business travelers by emphasizing what was fun about flying, and why they were the best ones to serve it up.
You can compete on value instead of price.
If you offer a product of higher quality and you can communicate that message convincingly, you can justify charging a little more for it. Chipotle took aim at Taco Bell this way in an ad campaign, highlighting the fact that, though Chipotle’s food was fast, it was more natural than what Taco Bell could offer. They decided to use the quality of their food instead of trying to beat their competition on price.
It can amplify your image.
Since part of brand positioning is looking at your competition, you can use what they’re doing to make more informed decisions about the appearance of your brand; elements like your logo, colors, and design. You can also figure out how to better attract your customer. What do they respond to aesthetically? Do they prefer a minimal appearance or something more boisterous and colorful? That will depend on your product and potential customer. When Dollar Shave Club entered the razor market, its main competitor was Gillette, a long-established and recognizable brand. So, what did they do? They didn’t copy Gillette’s image of highly produced ads featuring svelte male models. Instead, they ran ads featuring “everyman” type guys who spoke to the viewer like a drinking buddy, positioning themselves as the regular guy’s quality razor company.
With a good brand positioning strategy, consumers will seek you out instead of the other way around. A reputation for consistency and quality, earned through offering a good product or service that fits a need, can cement you in a customer’s head as firmly as Xerox or Band-Aid. If you were taking notes while reading this article, you might want to consider a career in business, and St. Ambrose University’s online Bachelor of Business Administration Program is a great place to start.
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