A common question among marketers has always been the difference between branding and positioning. Many believe they are synonymous with each other, while others know they are different, but aren’t sure which is which. This confusion will hopefully be remedied within the following discussion.
WHAT IS POSITIONING?
Let’s begin with what is involved in positioning. It is best defined as a means of analyzing a market in an attempt to discover a niche that can be occupied by a brand, product, or service. Utilizing traditional marketing techniques such as competition, promotion, or price, a marketer will create a distinct impression in the mind of the customer.
Positioning is something that occurs in the minds of a target market. It is the market’s perception of a company, product, or service that market researchers manufacture in an attempt to sway consumers away from competitors in the same industry. This concept relies on consumer comparisons and analysis of products currently existing in the marketplace.
The concept of branding relates to how consumers perceive a company or product. It is the relationship of the company with its target market in regards to consumer experiences. Branding is what differentiates one company from another and builds customer loyalty.
Branding is intended to evoke positive emotion from the target market. It is the thoughts and feelings of the consumers that form the basis of their impression as a result of their experiences. To read more about the benefits of branding for small businesses click here.
BRANDING VS. POSITIONING
The intimate relationship shared by branding and positioning form the foundation of any marketing campaign. Positioning paves the way for branding in a battle to occupy the consumer’s mind and overshadow the competition. The ultimate goal of positioning is to lure the market to a company, product, or service by forming an emotional connection between customers and a product or company.
Consumer experience with a company is ultimately the determining factor between success and failure. The focus should be in establishing a positive brand image by first positioning then analyzing what makes a company different from its competitors. This difference will then translate into a benefit for the customer and build brand loyalty.
THE POSITIONING PROCESS
A brand positioning strategy is a deliberate and proactive process that uses promotional tools in an effort to outshine your competitors. The ultimate goal is to convince your target market that your brand offers superior value to that of competing products. The process involves seven basic steps that must be utilized in identifying a brand’s uniqueness and differentiates a company from its competition.
- Current Positioning. Determine how the brand is currently positioned in the marketplace.
- Direct Competitors. Identify all direct competitors within your industry.
- Competitor Positioning. Analyze how each competitor has positioned their brand.
- Positioning Comparison. Compare your positioning to that of your competitors to evaluate your uniqueness.
- Idea Development. Develop a clear positioning plan.
- Craft Statement. Compose a definitive brand positioning statement.
- Test Statement. Test the efficiency of your positioning statement.
THE BRAND POSITIONING STATEMENT
This is a declaration that should communicate your brand’s unique value in relation to your direct competitors. In creating your statement, you should identify your target market, their needs, the product name, product category, and key benefits of the product. In addition, it should include alternative products from competitors and what makes your product different.
EVALUATING YOUR POSITIONING STRATEGY
An effective strategy can be evaluated using a specific set of criteria. It must differentiate your brand from all competitors, should match customer perception of your brand, enable growth, identify the unique value your brand offers to customers, be definitively different from your competitors, focus on your core customers, and be memorable as well as motivating.
In addition, your strategy must be consistent with all areas of your business, easy to comprehend, easy to duplicate, promote long-term success, be believable, credible, own able, resilient to counterattacks from competitors, and enable more effective marketing decisions.
A good product will normally sell itself. Your product’s quality can be the focus of your positioning strategy. Building your brand image around durable and reliable products will attract the interest of discerning customers that are willing to pay more for a quality product.
Many strategies employ a value-oriented idea. Best value, low price, and affordable are expressions that can be used in building a value-based position. Using this strategy can be more difficult to achieve because a good amount of the competition tries to promote value.
A company can also differentiate itself by offering superior service. This strategy can be challenging due to the human factor. Obviously, people make mistakes, experience fatigue, and are simply not perfect. All of this will have an impact on your success; therefore, few companies choose to utilize this type of strategy.
Using a non-product or service-related strategy is also an attractive option. In this type of position, you can emphasize environmental responsibility to position your company. You could also employ other qualities not based on solutions including philanthropy, social responsibility, or conservation. This type of approach is relatively easy to employ and is widely used by various companies.
YOUR CUSTOMER’S MIND
Instilling brand positioning in your customer’s mind must start within your business. Every experience with your company must be positive in building a strong relationship and maintaining an exemplary impression with the consumer. Every person in the organization must be the perfect example and reflection of your position.
Many marketers leave the door to uncertainty open in failing to follow through on their promises. Everything you do must be an expression of the strategy you choose to employ in positioning your brand. It takes a strong will and conviction to actively position your company as a brand consumers can rely on to stand by their word.
You must examine who you are and compare it to the desires of your customers. This is the essence of positioning and helps in keeping a positive impression. Only then can you be truly positioned in the mind of the consumer, for this is how a great brand emerges and survives through the years.