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Brand Positioning 101: How to Dominate the Market

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Consider this. When you get a papercut, do you look for a bandage or Band-Aid? Do you look something up, or do you Google it? Are you thinking about going to get some coffee or some Starbucks?

Person saying - You know what? Just Google it.

That’s what successful brand positioning looks like.

The product and the brand become interchangeable in the minds of the consumers, and you often use the brand name to refer to the product that it sells.

If you want your customers to think about your product and brand first when they’re looking to buy, your brand positioning needs to be on point. In this guide, we’ll talk about what brand positioning is and how to set your business up for success!

Table of Contents

What is brand positioning, and why is it important?

More than a logo or a tagline, brand positioning deals with how your brand stands out from the numerous alternatives available to the customer.

This distinction could be technical, emotional, or qualitative differences in products. We will expand on this later.

Depicting different brands that consumer mind think of

Source: Medium

The following reasons highlight the importance of brand positioning:

  1. If done properly, brand positioning can help make your brand synonymous with your product. Your buyers will think of your brand first when they are ready to make a purchasing decision.

  2. When you use your brand positioning to celebrate how your product solves a certain problem or need differently than your competitors, customers will sit up and take notice.

  3. You can use brand positioning to establish yourself as a luxury brand selling a quality product that customers will be happy to pay a higher price for.

  4. It increases the strength of your brand. A strong brand position can serve as a base to elevate other marketing collateral.

The importance of brand positioning can be summed up thus: it explains who you are, what you bring to the table, and why your customers should buy from you instead of anyone else.

5 types of brand positioning strategies

You can position your brand in several different ways to get yourself noticed by your customers. Given below are five ways to do so.

1. Value-based

Value based brand positioning focuses on the value of the product in the minds of the customer.

Yoda GIF with text - "My precious"

You can position your brand to have greater value than your competitors in the minds of your target customers. This is achievable by either providing a higher quality product (which would intrinsically have a higher value) or just using clever brand positioning to convince your customers that because your product is more expensive, it is of greater value to them.

2. Quality-based

You can use a quality-based positioning strategy when you want the quality of your product to be the focal point of your brand position.

Premium quality often comes at a premium cost. However, customers would not mind paying said cost if you can convince them that your product is worth it.

You can show the high-end quality of your product by focusing on superior craftsmanship, best quality materials, even the use of sustainable practices, which make it more expensive to produce. The premium quality of your service can be demonstrated through raving testimonials, off-the-chart ROI, and fantastic end results.

3. Price-based

Price-based brand positioning presents your product as the most affordable ones in the market.

When you present your product as the lowest priced in the market, you can generate a large customer base because none of us like spending more than we have to, and tend to choose the lower priced item among a selection, quality remaining the same across the board.

A drawback of positioning your brand as the most affordable option is that customers may view the quality of your product as inferior to the competition.

4. Competitor-based

Competitor-based brand positioning directly compares your brand to the rest of the competition and proves that you are better than them.

A good example of competitor-based brand positioning can be seen in the mobile phone market. Whenever a new model is released, the brand positions itself as having better features than the others. It often compares itself to other brands’ models to emphasize its superior specs, design, or even the variety of colors it comes in.

In competitor-based brand positioning, the messages are usually straight and clear and address the competition directly, though some may indirectly refer to competing brands in their marketing campaigns as well.

5. Differentiation-based

Brand positioning that is differentiation-based relies on marketing the product’s uniqueness or innovative features compared to the rest of the products in the market.

Tesla’s brand positioning is a great example of a differentiation-based brand positioning strategy. Before Tesla, there were no active, fully electric luxury vehicles available for purchase. Now, they are a leading brand pioneering self-driven electric cars.

Automobile brand map - Depicting Tesla, Audi, BMW, Mercedes in different category

Source: Slideshare

Customers who value innovation and uniqueness will flock to your brand if you use this brand positioning strategy. However, the one downside of differentiation-based brand positioning is that a lot of customers might be hesitant to buy your product because of the lack of history of use. You can ease your customers’ fears by providing them with information about the research and testing that went into developing your product.

By choosing a positioning strategy, you promise something to your customers. You need to ensure that you deliver on that promise.

Related guide: How to Best Leverage Your Product Differentiation Strategy

Examples of effective brand positioning

Let’s look at a handful of brands and their strategies to understand how they have managed to stick out from the competition.

Bumble vs Tinder

Bumble started out as a dating app focused on bettering the female user experience. It quickly expanded beyond just a dating platform to an app that could let users make meaningful friendships and professional connections.

Tinder vs Bumble app page

Source: Winter Words

Bumble’s brand positioning strategy is differentiation-based. It offers something no other dating app was offering in the market during its inception - a chance for its female user base to be in control of the interactions on the app.

Tinder, on the other hand, has adopted a leadership-based approach. The brand highlights a long history, a massive user base, and overall popularity as its focal marketing points. .

Apple Music vs Spotify

The Apple Music vs. Spotify debate has been going on forever.

Spotify takes a price-based approach to its brand positioning. Although its Premium subscription plan’s prices are nearly identical to that of Apple Music, it also has a free plan that makes it more accessible and affordable to people who do not want to pay to listen to ad-free music.

Apple Music boasts of a more quality-based approach. Their entire brand positioning is about quality and exclusivity. Apple Music also has a much more extensive song library than Spotify, along with more exclusive features in its subscription plans.

McDonald’s vs Burger King

The relationship between these two huge fast-food franchises is a fantastic example of two styles of brand positioning competing with each other.

Burger king Whopper burger vs McDonald's Big Mac burger

On the one hand, there’s Burger King. They often take digs at McDonald’s in their marketing stunts. They’ve positioned themselves in a unique way in the market, and their communications have even won awards, to say nothing of customers all around the world.

On the other hand, you have Mcdonald’s. Their brand positioning is more of a leadership style approach. They tend to distance themselves from the competition and do not respond to digs at their status as ‘king.’

3 steps to create a memorable brand position

Creating memorable brand positioning is difficult but achievable. It becomes easier if you are trying to enter a market that has less competition, as there are fewer brands vying for attention in the customer’s mind. That’s not to say that forming impactful brand positioning in a saturated market is impossible.

1. Determine your current brand positioning

Are you marketing your product as just another one in a sea of similar ones, or are you offering something unique?

To determine your current brand positioning, you need to

  • identify your target customers and the message your brand is sending to them

  • look at how well your brand is performing with respect to others in the same niche

Taking stock of your current brand positioning will give you valuable insight into which direction to take your brand next.

2. Study the competition

Once you have analyzed your own brand positioning, the next step is to identify your strongest competitors in the field and study theirs.

Take a look at

  • how your competitors have positioned their brands in the market

  • the kind of customer feedback they’re getting

  • their strengths and weaknesses

  • the marketing strategies that they are using successfully

  • their price points

  • the message they’re sending to customers

Your competitors’ brand positioning will give you invaluable insight into how you can successfully position your own brand in the market and the mistakes you need to avoid.

3. Identify your unique value proposition

Competitor research will reveal certain patterns. You’ll find most businesses going for the same angle to position themselves in the market, having similar strengths and weaknesses, or even similar marketing strategies.

How can you cut through the noise and bring something new to the table? Can your product or brand create an emotional connection with the customer that your competitors don’t have?

Figure out what makes your brand unique, and use that as the focal point of your brand positioning. Tell your target audience how and why you are the best choice to fulfill their needs or to supply them with the product or service they require.

As long as you create a positive connection with your customers that no other brand has, you have successfully positioned your brand to occupy a unique place in their minds.

Conclusion

A good brand positioning can mean the difference between being a household name and being just another product in the market. That doesn’t mean you need to make an overhaul each year. From time to time, you should revisit your brand positioning to check whether it is still relevant and able to connect with your customers. Want to learn more about how you can create demand for your brand in the market? Read our guide on-demand generation here.

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