In the world of marketing, where everything seems to have been done repeatedly, something that has never been more important is your brand positioning statement.
It is ultimately your key to success, your chance to shine, and an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Ultimately, it is a chance to position yourself.
But what exactly is a brand positioning statement?
It is an expression of how a given product, service, or brand meets a specific consumer’s need in a way that its competitors cannot or do not. So ultimately, positioning is a process of identifying a target market niche for a product, subsequent end, and getting it settled in that area.
What is a positioning statement?
To put it simply, positioning is the concept and idea that separates you from the competition. So the marketing position statement that you present represents what you want your audience to understand and explains why they should choose you.
Your brand positioning statement also reveals why you’re in business and gives your target audience a little insight into your purpose and values. Therefore clear a marketing and positioning statement is at the forefront of your marketing strategy. It drives the words and phrases as well as the look and feel of your visual and verbal system.
Therefore, brand positioning also requires your complete focus, a commitment to a specific niche, target audience or idea.
Your brand and marketing strategy will not work if you are trying to be all things to all people.
Who does it apply to?
If you are a company that offers a professional service, then your positioning statement should reflect your organization’s culture. It should also let potential clients know why existing clients keep coming back to you.
Manufacturers, on the other hand, may want to position their product lines to solve a problem that fits a niche that is empty. So you might have a different positioning strategy for different product lines, depending on the target audiences and the purpose of the product line.
The process of creating a positioning statement is identifying categories to organize each idea and its particular benefits. Bear in mind; the customer is not actually buying the drill but rather the hole it creates. Therefore listing the features and functionality of the product is not as valuable as understanding the purpose and outcome that the product provides.
What are 4 elements of a positioning statement?
All marketing tactics and strategies require a well-thought-out and well-constructed positioning statement to help sustain focus. Therefore, every decision must be critiqued by how well it supports the positioning statement. Some of these decisions include the product or service itself, advertising, packaging, promotions, etc.
The positioning statement is one of the main tools for agencies to manage clients and clients to manage agencies. Positioning statements are also for internal use and should not show up in marketing copy.
The positioning statement consists of four elements, which are the target, the differentiator, the category and payoff. So let’s take a closer look at these:
It makes perfect sense that you should be aware of your target audience and also where to find them before rolling out your marketing strategy. In most cases, the target market is determined based on certain criteria such as geography, demographics, psychographics, needs, etc. Once again, not everyone is an acceptable criterion.
Multiple features and benefits should never serve as differentiators. However, the unique features and advantages of the product will provide support for the main differentiator. For example, stating that your company is “the global leader” is a weak differentiator and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, state the reason why your company is the global leader.
Additionally, stating that your company has the biggest turnover or the biggest market share is also poor differentiators. Ultimately, what we’re trying to say is that the differentiator must be stated from the target markets’ perspective.
Potential customers require a frame of reference when gauging a proposed service or product. So naturally, you’ll want to know the context in which you evaluate. Potential customers want exactly the same thing. This can ultimately be achieved by declaring a common market or category where you play.
Some examples of a category are machine parts, lawn services, metal fabrication, digital television, PCs, tablets etc. Your potential client needs to be able to place your offer into a context, or else they will not spend any time evaluating your offer.
This part of the positioning statement joins the differentiation with the requirements or the goals of the target market. So in simple words, you need to tell your target market how your differentiator is going to help them achieve the outcome that they want.
So not knowing what your target market wants to achieve may present a big problem. In fact, it may put a real spanner in the works for you. You need to have a meaningful positioning statement, and in order to do this, you need to understand the target market intimately. Therefore a positioning statement involves real market research and not just hearsay.
10 brand positioning statement examples
While most consumer-facing ads are subject to change, something that never dies is the brand positioning statement behind them.
Here are a few good examples:
Coca-Cola is one company that offers a variety of refreshing options for consumers looking for high-quality beverages. Each Coca-Cola drink creates a genuinely positive experience for consumers when they enjoy a Coca-Cola beverage. Coca-Cola, unlike other brands, inspires happiness and makes a positive difference in their client’s lives. Ultimately, the brand is highly focused on the needs of customers and consumers.
For tech-savvy computer consumers who want the top of the range computers, laptops and mobile devices, Apple provides cutting-edge technology. The company promotes accessibility and inclusion for all and commits itself to source the highest quality products and materials.
Perhaps one of the companies that does the best branding is Walt Disney World. In fact, they are so good that they hardly need to brand themselves anymore. In fact, every single piece of investment goes back to the brand promise, which is to magically make your dreams come true. This is apparent from the moment you drive in because once you do, you know that you’ve reached the most magical place on earth.
Chipotle is a company that promotes food with integrity. They provide real premium ingredients for consumers looking for delicious food that’s also ethically sourced and prepared as freshly as possible. The company’s dedication to cultivating a better world by eliminating GMOs and offering responsibly raised food is what sets them apart from their competition in the food industry.
What really gets to the heart of the matter is JetBlue’s tagline – “you above all.” Since your flight experience is highly important to them, they will do whatever is required. Therefore JetBlue offers standard extras free, where their competition would automatically charge you extra.
For consumers who are looking for premium ingredients and that perfect cup every time, Starbucks offers the best coffee and espresso drinks. Not only does the company value each interaction, making each one unique, but the brand itself commits to the highest quality of coffee in the world.
7. Whole Foods
Whole Foods positions itself on the promise of the world’s cleanest, best, most ethical, most sustainable and healthiest ingredients in America. In fact, they guaranteed that their ingredients are connected to local farmers and to the earth.
Amazon is for customers who want to purchase a range of products online and receive speedy delivery. Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping experience for all customers. The company sets itself apart from other retailers selling online due to its customer obsession, commitment to operational excellence as well as a passion for innovation.
Nike provides consumers with the best sports apparel and shoes made from the highest quality materials. Ultimately, Nike portrays itself as a company for high-quality and fashionable apparel. In fact, this is one of the most advanced companies in the apparel industry because of their commitment to innovation as well as their investments in recent technologies.
McDonald’s is for customers looking for a quick service experience as well as exceptional customer service. McDonald’s is one of the leaders in the fast-food industry due to its consistency across thousands of convenient locations, as well as the friendly service offered. The company’s dedication to customer satisfaction, as well as improving operations, is what has managed to set them apart from other fast-food chains.
Beautycounter’s positioning statement says that they are a leading movement for a future where all beauty should be clean beauty. Their collective mission is to get several products into the hands of everyone and they are powered by people. Beautycounter’s mission is to formulate, advocate, and educate, holding themselves to unparalleled standards of safety. This is all because they stand by their belief that beauty should be good for you.
12. JW Marriott
This is a luxury resort and Hotel chain that believes that customers should travel brilliantly. They position their brand as the luxury hotel chain that truly understands its customers’ experience. They also claim that they hire the best, most highly trained, and most qualified hotel staff. Therefore with a luxury hotel chain that understands its customers’ requirements exactly, you can indeed travel brilliantly.
13. Thrive market
This is an online, membership-based market that creates the healthiest, highest-quality, and most sustainable products available for every type of budget, lifestyle, and geography.
Brand positioning statement template
The brand positioning statement is used as an internal-only document. So it is not a tagline; however, it still needs to be short to be clear and memorable to staff. As mentioned earlier, the positioning statement should contain four elements. So let’s revisit those four elements:
- The brand category
The industry, vertical or category that your brand operates in, is usually pretty obvious, but it can be beneficial to think about this. This is because your product could overlap into multiple verticals, or your category might have subsections within it. So determining the exact space in which you fit in and operate will help focus your direction as well.
- Target audience
When it comes to the target market, you may have more than one. However, it pays to focus on your main target group. Before deciding on this, it’s a good idea to work out who your most valuable customers are.
- Customer benefits
When we speak about customer benefits, we are not referring to the shiny new feature that you are happy with but the actual benefits to the customer. Basically, the benefits the customer will receive by being your customer.
- Confidence that your brand will deliver
By not having brick-and-mortar stores, your brand could potentially be the most cost-effective option available. Whatever the reason, there has to be something backing up your claim. For example, a software company may have highly advanced technology that provides better functionality.
So now that we have established the four elements of a great brand positioning statement, it’s time to let you know how to fit them into the following brand positioning template:
(Brand) is a (1) company that provides (2) with (3) by (4).
For example, Coca-Cola is a refreshing beverage company that provides a variety of beverages to people with active and busy lives. It does this by serving the best and most delicious beverages made from the highest quality ingredients.
Brand statements often confused with positioning statements
More often than not, marketers mix up positioning statements and other types of company statements. This, however, is understandable since they are managing and maintaining messaging foundations and have a lot of multitasking going on. However, to get rid of the confusion, we’ll compare and contrast positioning statements with some of the similar company statements out there.
Tagline vs. brand positioning statement
Both of these types of statements are memorable and snappy, however, the tagline is an external declaration that can be seen by customers, while the positioning statement is a purely internal process. Additionally, a tagline takes center stage on a social media ad or homepage and tends to change over time.
Positioning statements remain behind the scenes and is an amazing message that informs every tagline iteration. It is the foundation of the brand and, therefore, does not frequently change like the tagline.
Mission statement vs. brand positioning statement
The mission is the core of the business, and therefore the mission statement defines what you do today. However, it has more to do with the internal perception of the band. The mission statement is intended to shape the company’s culture and is used in hiring materials as well as the about page of the website.
So some of the questions that come to mind when you think about a mission statement is, what does the customer get out of supporting you? How is your brand meeting the customer’s needs and expectations?
Value proposition vs. brand positioning statement
Vision statements and value propositions are used almost interchangeably. The same way that vision and mission statements are used. The value proposition focuses on the advantages the customer experiences from an emotional and functional perspective. The value proposition is then used to create the positioning statement in the deeper essence of the brand and determines why it serves customers better than any of its competitors.
Elevator pitch vs. brand positioning statement
An elevator pitch is something that you do on the spur of the moment. It’s often in response to “what does your company do?”.
The positioning statement, on the other hand, is not a rant and not something that you can explain quickly. It is the essence of the brand and requires deeper thinking and reasoning.
Vision statement vs. brand positioning statement
This is the statement that defines where you are going tomorrow. It’s ultimately the future of the business, and as the mission, the vision statement is about the internal perception of the band. It helps the team move forward, achieving a common goal together. So while the positioning statement brings in some of this, it’s more about the customer’s viewpoint. The message is more competitive than aspirational and ultimately boils down to why customers should remember your brand above the rest.
The Final Word
Lots of these companies target a broad range of customers; therefore, it is a good idea to create separate statements for each segment that you are targeting. Once you get your positioning statements fully developed, you can begin advertising and marketing your brand and also creating a consistent message across all platforms.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.