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Wondering how you can build a winning brand positioning strategy?
In this guide, you'll find everything you need when it comes to positioning your brand correctly.
Here’s what we’re covering:
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
Have you ever thought of a product and immediately related it to a particular brand?
Think bandage and Band-Aid. Cola drink and Coca-Cola. Or tissue paper and Kleenex.
What do all these companies have in common?
A strong brand that not only sticks in the customer’s mind, but also manages to convey what it is, why the customer needs it and how it stands out from other, similar products.
This is exactly what effective brand positioning is all about.
Brand positioning is the process of placing your brand at a unique point in the minds of your customers.
Below is an example of a positioning map.
Think of this ‘map’ as your customer’s mind.
Notice how each of the three brands occupies a unique place on the map. Brand positioning is the process of establishing and maintaining this position for your own brand.
Positioning affects how customers perceive your brand; from its purpose and benefits to what makes it different from the competition.
In the example above, Brand A is clearly perceived to offer higher quality than Brand C, but at a high price. Brand B, however, also offers higher quality than C, but at a much lower price than A.
Your brand should always strive to position itself as:
The extent to which your brand manages to position itself in these three domains will ultimately determine its success.
Brand positioning is important for various reasons, all of which can help strengthen your brand and make a positive impact on your bottom line.
Here are 5 benefits of brand positioning.
Crafting a brand positioning strategy requires you to first identify your target audience, and then fully understand their likes and dislikes, how they perceive your brand and what they think about your competitors.
This understanding helps you create highly personalized and targeted campaigns that your customers are more likely to respond to.
A well-positioned brand is more focused on the problems they’re solving for their target audience and the market they’re tapping into.
The more dialed in your brand is to your customers’ needs, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate your value proposition and brand story.
No matter what you’re selling, your customers probably have other options.
So, why would they choose your brand over anything else? What makes them grab your product off the shelf and not the one placed next to it?
Differentiation, that’s how.
Brand positioning allows you to find your own, unique place in the market, and then communicate that uniqueness to customers to distinguish yourself from the competition.
For example, you could position your brand as providing good quality at an affordable price. Or you could position it as a luxury brand that charges more because it’s so exclusive.
Pricing your product can be tricky if you don’t know what your customer is willing to pay or what your competitors are charging.
Positioning helps you identify exactly who you’re competing with, and what your target customer is willing to pay for the perceived benefits you’re providing.
Brand positioning is also useful for justifying your chosen pricing strategy. Why is your brand priced lower or higher than your competitors?
Understanding what your brand stands for in the eyes of the customer helps you create more focused creative campaigns.
When your target market is too broad or there are too many competitors in your niche, it’s difficult to come up with ideas that stand out.
Creating a positioning strategy helps you find a concentrated niche and narrow down your target market. This makes it easier to come up with creative ideas that help you achieve your goals.
Positioning is only one part of the equation that is your brand strategy.
To effectively position your brand, you need to make sure you fully understand where you currently stand, who your target market is, what you can and cannot promise, and more.
Below are 8 steps to creating a winning positioning strategy for your own brand.
If you’ve been around for a while and are thinking of repositioning your brand, you should first assess where you currently stand in the minds of your customers.
This can be done in various ways.
One way is to conduct surveys and get first-hand customer feedback on questions regarding their perceptions about your brand.
Then, visualize your survey findings and share them with your team to help define your current brand positioning.
You can use the survey template below for that purpose.
Another useful technique for unearthing your current positioning is to analyze your own marketing and sales figures.
This internal research can help you find answers to the following:
A third way to gather information about your current brand positioning is to practice social listening.
This research can give you valuable insight into what customers think about you in general and in relation to your competitors.
This step is often the first one for new brands that are just starting out.
Identifying your target market is a crucial step in effectively positioning your brand. It helps you narrow your focus so you can better meet the needs of your customers.
Conduct research on the type of customer that’s most likely to buy from you, and create a buyer persona using the template below.
This will help you pinpoint exactly who you’re selling to in a broad market.
Make sure you include details about your target customers’ demographics, interests, likes, dislikes, habits and goals.
An important part of researching the market is studying the players in it. Dig up data on your competitors and find out how they’re positioning their brand.
Subscribe to their newsletters, check out their website and social media profiles and analyze their content across various mediums.
What products or services are they offering? Which of their marketing campaigns are popular among customers? What kind of language, tone and imagery are they using?
Use this template to organize competitor information and share it with your team.
You can also use social listening to keep track of online conversations about your competitors. How do customers feel about their products and services? What complaints do their customers have? What are they raving to their friends about?
Understanding your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses will help you identify a gap in the market and create a more effective positioning strategy.
The next step is to study your own organization in detail so you can identify what you’re good at and where you’re lacking.
One way to do that is by conducting a SWOT analysis.
Customize this SWOT analysis template and share it with your team separately or include it in your strategy document.
Conducting a SWOT analysis will make it easier to go after the right type of brand positioning.
For example, if your company’s production process is costly, it can be difficult for you to offer low-priced products and position your brand as affordable.
In the same way, if your company is good at research and developing new products, it might be easier for you to position yourself as an innovative brand.
A SWOT analysis also helps you combine information from your competitor research with your internal audit in the form of threats and opportunities.
You can even do complete competitor SWOTs to see exactly where you stand!
When you’re done jotting down your strengths and weaknesses, you might notice there’s some kind of overlap between you and your competitors.
You might even spot positioning opportunities in the form of competitor weaknesses and your own strengths.
Use this opportunity to craft your unique selling point and value proposition — what makes you different from your competitors? How will your product add value to your customers’ lives?
When you’ve found your true calling, sum it up in the form of a mission, vision and core values. Use this template to share with your team, post on your website and even pin up in your office.
For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and one of your strengths is that your food tastes really good. On the other hand, your weakness might be that your products are a bit pricey as you use only high-quality ingredients.
While your competitors’ food might cost less, you can capitalize on your strength and position yourself as a high-quality brand for those who value great taste.
Your value proposition and competitive advantage here would be that you’ll offer your customers an unforgettable taste that they won’t find anywhere else.
Once you’ve gathered all kinds of data about your brand and the market you’re operating in, it’s time to articulate it in the form of a brand positioning statement.
A brand positioning statement is a one- or two-sentence statement that nicely sums up:
Here are 3 examples of brand positioning statements from popular brands:
“Mailchimp is an all-in-one Marketing Platform for small business. We empower millions of customers around the world to start and grow their businesses with our smart marketing technology, award-winning support, and inspiring content.”
Mailchimp’s positioning statement is concise yet descriptive enough to address all three elements in just a couple of short sentences. The product? A marketing platform. The target market? Small businesses. The benefit? Business growth.
“Slack is the collaboration hub that brings the right people, information, and tools together to get work done. From Fortune 100 companies to corner markets, millions of people around the world use Slack to connect their teams, unify their systems, and drive their business forward.”
Our remote team at Visme loves using Slack, and so do the millions of other business teams that make up Slack’s target customer base. Their positioning statement also does a great job at summarizing what Slack is (a collaboration tool) and how it brings value to their customers (connect, collaborate and grow.)
“Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 68,800 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better.”
Hubspot’s positioning statement is more elaborate than the other two examples in our list, but it still does a good job at capturing the essence of what their product is (software), who it caters to (companies) and how their customers benefit from it (attract, engage and delight customers.)
Here’s a customizable template that you can use to jot down your brand positioning statement, define the aspects of your positioning and share with your team.
Great, you’ve done all your homework — now it’s time for execution.
Your brand positioning is useless if you don’t communicate it properly and on all the right channels.
Start by visualizing your customers’ journey and taking note of all the touchpoints they come across with your brand.
For example, your customer touchpoints could include your website, landing pages, social media, marketing emails, print media, paid ads, press releases and more.
Your messaging across each and every customer touchpoint should be aligned with your brand positioning. Most importantly, it should be consistent.
If you’re trying to position yourself as a luxury brand with a high level of sophistication, make sure your content and design across all mediums is aligned with that.
Use the right colors, tone of voice, language and imagery. Avoid using clashing content and visual design. If you only publish high-quality product photos on Facebook, don’t start sharing memes or low-quality, poorly edited photos on Instagram.
If you’re using Visme, it’s easy to keep your visuals consistent with your brand positioning, regardless of which person on your team is using the tool.
You’re able to upload all your brand elements, like logos, fonts and color palettes, create your own templates for social media and presentations, and much more.
Here’s a snapshot of Visme's Brand Kit, which helps you store all your brand assets in one place.
But brand positioning is not just limited to customer touchpoints.
It should also reflect in your company’s culture and every business decision you make.
This is why you should also ensure your internal communication strategy is aligned with your positioning strategy.
Whether it’s employee communication, events, or internal marketing design and copy, it should be consistent with your positioning and brand identity.
Just because you’ve started executing your brand positioning strategy doesn’t mean your work here is done. How do you know if what you’re doing is actually working?
The only way to know is to constantly monitor and evaluate.
Keep track of online conversations surrounding your brand, conduct surveys and polls, and gather real-time feedback from your customers, such as after a sale or during a support conversation.
If something doesn’t seem to be working for you, you’ll be able to spot it right away and take the necessary action to prevent it from doing any serious damage to your brand.
But remember, it’s always a good thing to experiment with different, creative tactics to execute your brand positioning. Just make sure you’re evaluating your actions as you go.
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To get you inspired for creating your own brand positioning strategy, we’ve collected five examples of popular companies and how they position themselves in the market.
Let’s get right to it.
The first example on our list compares two of the biggest ride-hailing apps. While both Lyft and Uber offer similar services, they position themselves quite differently.
Business-oriented, sleek and luxurious.
Uber entered the market with its “black car” service to distinguish itself from the traditional yellow taxis. That was one of the first moves to help position Uber as a luxury ride-sharing service.
Uber's tagline at the time was “Everyone’s private driver.” This only furthered the luxurious brand image of Uber in the minds of the customers.
The company also experimented with helicopter and boat rides, again catering to the upper, elite and business classes.
Although their tagline has changed twice since then and they’ve also introduced services like food delivery, Uber still uses a sleek and sophisticated visual identity, such as a minimalist logo and a black-and-white color scheme.
Friendly, cool and relaxed.
Lyft launched at a time when Uber was already under the spotlight for harassment cases and fraudulent drivers.
But their success could largely be attributed to their strong brand positioning strategy — the total opposite of Uber’s luxurious, even “pretentious” brand image.
Lyft arrived at the scene as a friendly, casual and ride-hailing service for the average joe.
They incorporated this positioning in everything, from the bold and playful visual identity, their brand name (play on the casual ride-sharing word ‘lift’) and even the mustache they used to add to the car grills.
Lyft also focused a lot on personal interaction. They encouraged passengers to sit in the front seat like a friend rather than in the back seat.
The company snatched a large market share by appealing to a broader, younger and more casual market — people who were looking for an affordable, safe and fun ride-sharing experience rather than a luxury car service.
We all know that both Mercedes-Benz and BMW are luxury brands that sell expensive cars.
But did you know that both brands position themselves differently and aim to solve very unique customer needs? Read on to find out how.
“Sacrifice Nothing.” Luxury, prestige and attention to detail.
Mercedes-Benz has always placed a strong emphasis on comfort and sleek design in their cars. Here’s a promo video for one of their cars that does exactly that.
Their cars are classy and sophisticated, and even their tagline shows us they’re all about perfection and attention to detail.
The closest brand archetype to Mercedes is The Ruler — old-school, timeless and elegant.
“The Ultimate Driving Machine.” High-quality engineering and performance.
Unlike Mercedes, BMW has always focused on superior engineering and performance in their cars. This positioning is also reflected in their tagline, “Ultimate Driving Machine.”
BMW’s brand archetype is closest to The Hero, which focuses more on performance, competence and ambition.
Hero brands need to constantly innovate when it comes to their products, which is exactly what BMW does better than Mercedes.
Our third example talks about two of the most mainstream sports brands. While they both compete with each other in some areas, each brand's positioning is a bit different.
“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Nike positions itself as the leading manufacturer of athletic apparel, footwear and accessories. The brand caters to a very specific target market: players.
Their marketing communications also focus more on athletics than lifestyle.
For example, most of Nike’s brand partnerships are with popular athletes, such as Christiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer.
“To be the best sports company in the world.”
Adidas has a larger product portfolio than Nike. Instead of catering to a niche market like players, they offer ‘sporty’ products for everyone.
The brand's positioning is more of athleisure and lifestyle brand than Nike.
This difference is also evident in their marketing communications.
Adidas partners with athletes for their sports product range as well, but they’ve also worked with celebrities like Kanye West, Kylie Jenner and Beyonce to market their streetwear sneakers.
Zara and H&M are both fast-fashion retailers selling affordable apparel and accessories.
While they may seem like similar brands — they’re often located close to each other — they position themselves differently in a few ways.
Affordable clothing to help you stand out and make a statement.
H&M positions itself as the fashion brand for a younger, more tech-savvy crowd, including Gen-Z, focusing on inclusivity and bold statements.
This reflects in their marketing strategies, such as heavy investment in online advertising and social media marketing along with designer collaborations like H&M x Versace and H&M x Sabyasachi.
Minimalist, sophisticated and innovative fashion at a mediocre price.
Zara positions itself as a cost-effective alternative to luxury clothing brands.
They focus a lot on innovation, releasing new collections within short time spans and with a limited supply so it’s difficult to come across someone wearing the same shirt or pants.
Zara targets people with a more sophisticated dressing preference, while H&M offers more casual options.
Their marketing communications are different too. Take a look at the two emails below.
Their emails reflect different customer needs. If you look at Zara’s email on the left, you’ll notice an emphasis on the style of the new collection.
In contrast, H&M places the price of their clothing articles front and center, focusing more on affordability than style.
Two of the biggest retail giants in the world, Amazon and Walmart have very different value propositions and positioning strategies.
“A wide range of products online with quick delivery.”
Amazon has always positioned itself as a brand that puts convenience at the forefront.
From their extremely broad target audience (everyone), easy checkout, a wide range of products and perks like fast delivery and a generous return policy, Amazon has always focused on delivering great customer experiences.
The company also invests heavily in personalization, from targeted advertising and email marketing to tailored product recommendations on their website.
“Everyday products at the lowest possible price.”
Unlike Amazon, Walmart focuses less on customer experience and more on everyday products and low prices. This is apparent in everything, from their business model to their positioning statement.
Walmart has invested heavily in opening lots of brick-and-mortar stores around the world. They’ve also become a household name for cheap products near you.
In a world where brands are competing at a global scale, creating an effective positioning strategy is key to the success of your business.
But what most marketers forget about is that staying consistent with your positioning strategy is just as important as planning and executing it.
Keep all your communications aligned with your brand strategy with Visme — a content creation and brand management tool.
Upload your brand elements, such as your logo, typography and color palette, and use them across all your designs. You can also save your designs as templates so any member of your team can hop in and edit them quickly and easily.
Visme’s robust design tool also lets you create animated and interactive visuals that will engage your audience and help you stand out from your competition.
Sign up for a free Visme account today and take it for a test drive!