How do you stand out in a crowded marketplace? What makes your business different (and better!) than your competition? Brand positioning is the effort you make to set your brand apart from your competitors. It’s how you position yourself in the mind of your ideal customer to get them to perceive you in a specific way.
Effective brand positioning tells prospective consumers that you are more than, better than, unique, not like all the rest. Is your manufacturing or planning process different? Do you use different materials? Is your finished product higher quality, more durable, or eco-friendly? If you’re a service provider, do your employees have special training and certifications that your competitors don’t?
Being different isn’t enough, though. You need to be different in ways that matter to your ideal customer. If you serve an affluent market, talk about your use of the best, high-end products. If you serve a budget-conscious market, talk about your affordable pricing and financing. If your ideal customer is concerned about the environment, talk about all of the eco-friendly materials you use and your commitment to sustainable products.
In order to find the most effective brand positioning for your organization, you need to ask yourself some questions, and do some analysis of several things, including:
- Who is your audience
- What your consumers actually want
- If your brand is capable of fulfilling their need
- How you fulfill their needs better, or differently than the other guys
- How your competitors are positioning their brands
Developing a Promise Statement
Once you’ve answered the questions above and analyzed the results, you’re ready to develop your own brand promise statement. This is a statement that will be used on your website, in your marketing materials, packaging, customer service, etc.
Your promise statement should:
- Be relevant to consumers
- Be different from your competitors
- Be attainable — within your company’s capabilities to deliver
You may think a promise statement and a tagline are the same thing. They’re related, and both are part of your overall branding strategy, but there are some key differences. Your promise statement puts into writing what you stand for, who you serve, and what you offer. It highlights what you provide that is different from other companies. For example, Gorman Farms / CSA promise is:
The way it should be…
Always fresh & healthy
Always top quality
Always a great family experience
You know they are committed to providing fresh, quality organic produce for members of their CSA.
A tagline, sometimes known as a slogan, is shorter, and can be witty, inspirational, or simply descriptive. The hope is that it’s memorable. The idea is that your tagline is so closely associated with your brand that people don’t even need to hear your company name, but can identify you from your tagline. That takes time and consistency, but if you have a good tagline, it can happen. For Gorman Farms, it’s “The Gorman Difference.”
Tagline Examples from Well Known Companies
Walt Disney World – “Where Dreams Come True”
Jet Blue – “You Above All”
United Airlines – “Fly the Friendly Skies.”
Apple – “Think Different.”
Nike – “Just Do It.”
Target – “Expect More. Pay Less.”
Kay Jewelers – “Every Kiss Begins With Kay.”
Kentucky Fried Chicken – “Finger Lickin’ Good”
M&M – “Melts in Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands”
Your brand positioning may change over the years, especially if you add or delete products and services, or change your focus to a different market segment. Your brand positioning should also change to reflect changes in the marketplace, technological advances, and changes in benefits to the customer.
But changing your brand positioning is not the same as reinventing your company. If your brand has spent the last decade promoting the luxury and exclusiveness of your product, you would not want to suddenly start talking about how affordable you are. The new message would be unlikely to convince anyone. and it would almost certainly undermine your previous marketing efforts.
Your brand promise and tagline are key components of your overall brand strategy, and it’s important to be consistent throughout all of your contacts with potential customers. That includes:
- Your website
- Your social media channels
- Your email marketing
- Your printed materials – business cards, brochures, direct mail, etc.
- Online and print advertising
And in personal interactions with customers, whether that’s with sales, customer service or you as the business owner, you and your employees need to keep your brand positioning and your brand promise in mind. Everyone needs to be on the same page, so to speak.
If you’re looking to update your brand positioning, or you’re a startup looking to get off the ground, you might consider working with a branding company that has experience in brand development, brand positioning and market research. Outsourcing certain aspects of your business gives you more time to focus your energy on running your business.