What is brand positioning

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.

in-article-cta
How do your consumers view your brand?
Measure brand awareness and sentiment using SurveyMonkey Audience.
Learn more

What is a Brand Positioning Statement?

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.

Why is Brand Positioning Important?

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

How to Create a Brand Positioning Statement

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.

Review your current brand positioning statement

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.

Do competitive research

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 customers 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.

Uncover what makes your brand stand out

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 your brand, trust you, and buy your products.

in-article-cta
Does your brand positioning stand out?
Isolate differentiators and areas of opportunity with SurveyMonkey’s Audience panel.
Learn more

Testing Your Brand Positioning Strategy

Your brand positioning strategy will depend on your companies products, goals, and market.   

Some companies will position their product based on product characteristics. It might be the fastest, most technologically advanced, have a unique shape, or be the first on the market.

For instance, the Apple iPod was introduced in 2001 as the only way to “fit 1,000 songs in your pocket.” It had unique characteristics and was the first of its kind on the market. It was later followed by more innovative products from Apple, expanding their brand to more consumers.

Frequently, companies will sell their product based on price, often a low price. They may offer rebates, coupons, discounts, and other incentives to get people to buy their product. This has become especially relevant as many businesses move toward subscription-services. Price can be a strategy you’re consistently evolving, especially if you’re offering a service or digital product. 

Another marketing strategy is to position the brand as a quality or luxury product, commanding an above market price. Chanel and Gucci have positioned themselves as high fashion, high priced quality goods. Ferrari’s brand positioning states that it “fuels a world of dreams and emotions”. Tiffany’s has its signature light robin egg blue boxes that support its brand promise of “beautiful design makes a beautiful life.”

Other products may have a unique use or application. Your customer might need products that are specific for their curly hair or dry skin. Services that appeal to a specific clientele can also fall in this category. Diet foods for ketogenic or other brand name diets can also be unique.

Products can also be positioned to take on the competition. The Wendy’s restaurant chain opened in the late 1960’s in response to average quality hamburgers in the fast food market. They aim to “to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers” and distinguish themselves from the top competitor, McDonald’s and their former motto, “I’m lovin it.”

Conduct a brand positioning survey

Once you have developed your brand positioning statement, you should test it. One way to test your approach is through a brand positioning survey. It will tell you if your market positioning is accurate and how people perceive your product.

in-article-cta
Ready to test your brand positioning statement?
SurveyMonkey’s consumer panel, Audience, can help you try different marketing positioning before you launch it.
Get started

Your survey can be as extensive or focused as you want. You can first ask if the respondent recognized your brand. If they do, then there can be a detailed list where you can help understand their emotions and impressions of your products and services.

Survey questions ask how unique, innovative, honest, exciting, or reliable your brand is. Based on these results, you will get an understanding of what perceptions customers have of your brand and help you reposition it if necessary.

Why is a brand positioning survey important?

  • It will validate your assumptions about your target market and how your product is different from your competition.
  • It will save you time and money so you don’t launch a product that no one wants.
  • It will let you know if your customer likes your brand and will buy from you.
  • It can keep you from being one of the 95% of new products that fail every year.

Your brand positioning isn’t a one time event. You will want to revisit it as your products change or you recognize new shifts in customer tastes or market trends.

Examples of Positioning Statements

Apple believes their customers (their target market) are innovative, imaginative, and creative and willing to pay a premium price for computers and phones. They love to connect with customers and provide value through innovative products like iPad and iPhone.

Trader Joes offers a “nationwide chain of neighborhood grocery stores”. They’ve built a loyal following of shoppers who love to have fun while buying high quality foods at low prices. From their Hawaiian shirts to Fearless Flyer ads, shoppers are fiercely loyal to this chain for over 50 years.

Nike became memorable with its “Just Do It” tagline. But they also look to the future, stating that “we dare to design the future of sport”, setting them apart as innovators. Michael Jordan earned over $1 billion from all the Air Jordans sold to people who wanted to be “like Mike”.

Southwest Airlines offers a unique flight experience, particularly due to their employee promise. Employees promise to “demonstrate my Warrior Spirit by striving to be my best and never giving up. I will express my Fun-LUVing Attitude by not taking myself too seriously and embracing my Southwest Family.”

Salesforce proudly explains, “We bring companies and customers together.” It’s a simple tagline for a sophisticated software solution, and it clearly describes the platforms major benefit, while also nodding to the company’s famous emphasis on community. 

Should you conduct brand repositioning?

A company performs a brand reposition when consumers’ desires change and the company must change their brand identity in the marketplace. Changes to their product, pricing, or promotion will also change to meet consumers’ needs.

When should you reposition your brand? Consistently! Your customer base is constantly growing and evolving, and you’ll need to keep up with those changes in preferences. That doesn’t mean doing a full reboot, but it might mean adding a new layer to your brand identity. 

The more you measure, the better prepared you’ll be to keep your audience engaged and focused on your brand.

Get started with your market research

Global survey panel

Collect market research data by sending your survey to a representative sample

Research services

Get help with your market research project by working with our expert research team

Expert solutions

Test creative or product concepts using an automated approach to analysis and reporting