5 Vital Brand Positioning Factors to Drive Commercial Success
In a crowded marketplace, it is essential to create robust brand positioning, so your brand stands out. Even if your marketplace is not currently crowded, if your business model is attractive, and it generates high revenue then it will likely become more crowded over time. Competitors will move in to grab a slice of the action and take market share, which could squeeze your brand. That is why brand positioning is essential.
Standing out through the quality of your product or service is all very well. But it’s not enough on its own because this lacks strong ‘ownable’ differentiation. In truth, the right quality is merely an expected baseline amongst your customers. You also need to be able to explain what makes your product or service really credible, trustworthy, special and compelling to potential and existing customers. That is why branding strategy is important, no matter how good your quality or business idea may be.
Branding strategy defines:
- Who you are
- What you stand for
- Why you exist
- How you’re different and
- Why you’re the perfect choice for your ideal customers
Brand positioning is a structured approach to making your brand stand out in a way that’s most relevant to the market, emerging trends and your target customers. It is not difficult, but it is essential to your business’s success and ability to generate higher revenue with bigger margins. It is also important for building brand loyalty, which enables you to turn a single sale into a long-lasting relationship.
Related: 21 Brand Trends for 2021 You Can Leverage to Achieve Higher Revenue
Here we’re sharing five important factors you need to know about how brand positioning enables you to build, develop and manage a strong brand. Consequently, strong brand positioning drives your ability to achieve higher revenue, expand market share and build brand IP asset value.
Every successful large and small brand uses a brand positioning approach – but the good news is it doesn’t have to be difficult to evaluate and apply. Brand positioning is an essential part of your brand’s future success, so it is worth investing time now to get it right.
1. Strong Brand Positioning is What Enables Your Brand to Beat and Keep Leaving Competitors Way Behind
To stand out as the preferred purchase option, a brand needs to be differentiated from its competitors. That can be difficult to achieve whether in a highly competitive B2B service business or in a busy B2C retail environment. But it is even harder to apply effectively in a homogenized online marketplace. For a B2B services firm, it can be even more challenging. Consider honestly, what sets your smart people claiming to have an intangible solution apart from a competitor’s smart people claiming the same thing — in the eyes of a potential client or customer?
Brand positioning is a demarcation of what your brand offers that makes it unique. It’s a way of setting out your stall differently relative to your competitors because it explains why your brand is credible and valuable to offer that. When target purchasers are making a decision, they ought to be attracted by your ‘differentiation factors’ (achieved through your positioning) in a way which makes them choose you over a competitor. That is the litmus test for effective brand positioning.
For some businesses, pricing is crucial. A lot of brands spend a lot of time optimising their pricing strategy. That can be important, but price on its own is not brand positioning. If you are competing solely on price, you are not a brand: you are competing as a commodity. However, price can be one part of a wider set of elements which comprise a brand positioning.
Walking seems like the easiest thing in the world once you can do it – but it probably took you months in your early life to figure out how to do something which looks so simple from afar! Similarly, brand positioning follows a relatively simple structure. However, it can take time and effort to articulate it effectively. Small differences in direction or tone can have a big impact on what a brand does. Your brand positioning should be what sits underneath and drives your brand activity both from a marketing and design perspective.
To see the power of this, consider as a case study Zespri. Kiwifruit are basically a commodity. By building a brand which positions them as kiwifruit experts, Zespri is able to charge a premium. It’s building on elements which aren’t unique to them, but through careful selection and communication it is able to sustain a differentiated brand positioning.
Related: How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market
We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively, particularly in hostile markets, so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:
- Build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
- Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Leadership Mastermind here. This is a live, interactive programme online where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our online half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand-building essentials. Ask about our Personal and Corporate Leadership Brand Alignment Masterclass
Want a DIY solution? check out our how to build a brand eprogramme here and our how to audit your brand yourself eprogramme here
“I really appreciate Lorraine’s energy and passion. Although good branding includes so many facets, Lorraine is able to simplify the process and make it so much more tangible for any company to put into practice.”
Marketing Communication Specialist
2. Brand Positioning Always Starts With an Insight
Think about what you do when you purchase something. You may start with a functional need, for example you need cheese as part of your ingredients to make a meal, you need to service your car or your business needs to print some documents. Or, you may start with an emotional need, for example you are having a difficult day and want to reward yourself with something which makes you happy.
Either way, you are starting with a need. Brands answer needs, so this is the start of any brand positioning statement. We must first understand what is going on in the mind of the target customer that brings them to a consideration set including your brand.
Related: Branding Psychology in Adversity – 7 Ways You Can Embrace Behavioural Shifts to Grow Your Business
To help brand thinking, we capture this as an insight. In fact, the customer may never articulate the insight in the same words. It is our version of what we understand to be going on in their minds. We can gain this from our existing understanding of a path to purchase. It is also useful to interview customers, as well as possible customers who decided against your brand. This is often easy to do – in a B2B environment, when you pitch to a possible customer, they often proactively offer feedback on their decision process and how your brand performed within it.
A strong insight is firmly rooted in a need and/or want. Note that the customer might not realise themselves that they have this need or want, although it could be discernible from their behaviour.
These can be simple functional insights such as “I want to quench my thirst” or “I want to protect our workers from hearing loss” to higher order emotional insights such as “I wish I had more confidence at public events” or “I don’t like losing sleep worrying about whether our accounts are in order”.
The insights sit with the customer not the brand – just because a lot of other brands might have a solution to a particular insight does not mean it can’t be a powerful insight to underpin your brand positioning.
Related: Using Buyer Personas to Increase Your Business Profitability
A B2B case study is business support provider Williams Lea Tag. They clearly understand the power of insights in forming a winning band proposition and even have a customer insights programme where they interview customers to understand their needs and wants in-depth.
“An exceptionally talented individual. Lorraine Carter, Persona Branding and Design has a wonderful ability to ‘horizon scan’ for any business and then bring them on a journey that delivers value to their Balance Sheet.”
Technology Ireland & ICT Skillnet
3. Brand Benefits are Central to Successful Brand Positioning
What makes a brand positioning stand out from its competitors is how it answers an insight or customer pain point. We refer to the “benefits” a brand offers. These are a sort of call and response mirror to the insight. So in simplistic terms as an example, an insight could be “I wish I had more confidence at public events”, a brand may offer the benefit of “making you feel more confident when you meet people at a public event”.
Related: Boring Brand? How To Create a Unique Brand and Market Positioning
A brand can and typically does offer multiple benefits. Some may be more important than others, but a brand positioning should capture them all. Consider for example a B2B accounting software solution with the insight “I don’t like losing sleep worrying about whether our accounts are in order”. Stopping the loss of sleep is one benefit. But that wouldn’t be enough to sell in a sophisticated solution like this – it would likely also need to deliver on other benefits, for example its usability with client employees, its ability to match up to accepted accounting standards, its price point and so on. So typically a brand positioning will include multiple benefits, although some will be more important than others.
A case study is the personal finance comparison site Money Super Market. The functional benefit of a financial comparison site or broker can be hard to differentiate from that of competitors. Money Super Market elevates itself to the higher order emotional benefit of feeling “money calm”. This is a simple but powerful way to deliver against the insight that even for people who are not actively worried about money matters, there is often a nagging discomfort about the potential risks of financial missteps. This emotional benefit in their brand positioning helps set them apart from competitive brands.
Related: What’s a Brand Guide and How Can it Help Your Business?
Are you a business leader, manager, or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate or build your brand strategy, so you can effectively achieve the best brand positioning to increase your sales? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding masterclasses because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value, so you can command a premium.
In fact, the Persona Leadership Branding Strategy Mastermind is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the brand building, agile branding strategy process using professional big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results, so you can grow your business faster and more effectively.
The programme enables you to make your brand highly visible, different, credible, trustworthy, memorable and much loved amongst your ideal customers, so you can become more profitable and leave your competitors way behind. Be The One — your ideal customers’ favourite brand of preferred choice commanding a premium.
If you want a tailor-made solution specifically for your brand then we also provide inhouse bespoke Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Intensives working with you and your team, so you can grow your business faster and more profitably. Contact us to discover more [email protected] or +353 1 8322724
4. Credibility is Earned so Brand Positioning Must-Have Reasons to Believe
So far, even with insights and benefits, there still might not be enough to differentiate your brand from another. Think about the benefit “making you feel more confident when you meet people at a public event”. That could be the benefit of a perfume brand, a toothpaste brand, a mouthwash brand, a clothing brand and more. Even within toothpaste, different manufacturers could all reasonably say that this was a benefit their product delivers.
The next step in brand positioning is to identify or generate “reasons to believe”. These are exactly as they sound – reasons for target customers to believe that your brand delivers the benefits you claim. This is where brands can more readily differentiate themselves.
For example, one toothpaste brand might claim that it has a unique formulation or ingredients. It could also claim that it performed better in tests. It might rely on an endorsement from a professional body or celebrity. Even a claim that it is the market leader could be enough – many customers may think that if so many other customers bought it, that is social proof that it must do what it says. That is not true just for consumer categories – it is reflected in the old B2B adage “No-one ever got fired for choosing IBM”.
Related: How to Build a Premium Tech Brand, so You’re Not Just Competing on Features, Benefits and Price Discounts
Remember, the reasons to believe don’t have to be believable by everyone. You have chosen a specific target market, so you want your ideal target customers to find them credible, so they believe your brand delivers the claimed benefits.
Whether other people find them believable is irrelevant if they are not your target customer. In specialized markets this can also be important – you need to find out who the decision makers are and likely need reasons to believe that can convince them, even if they are not the actual users or customers.
A simple way to think about reasons to believe is in L’Oréal commercials. The part where the spokesman says “here’s the science” is an articulation of the reason to believe.
A case study is Bennetts, a motorbike insurance broker. Because they specialize in motorbike insurance, they have deeper expertise which makes them more credible as the insurer of choice for motorcyclists. This allows them to focus brand communication on burnishing their bike community expertise so further differentiating them from their competitors.
Related: Profitable Lessons from Luxury Brand Leaders, Brand Positioning for Premium Pricing
“Lorraine Carter has been the catalyst and an inspiration for MGI Learning to clearly define our brand.
Working with Lorraine has been both enlightening and enjoyable. Her blueprint for defining a brand is extremely comprehensive and challenged us to think very deeply about what we offer to our customers and really understand what underpins our success.
Lorraine is extremely knowledgeable, very focused, and supportive, and leads you through the process and ensured we got maximum benefits from the investment we made.”
5. The Most Successful Brand Positioning is Simple, Consistent and Strategically Sound
As you can see, a lot of listening, evaluation, thinking and fine-tuning goes into successful brand positioning. But that might not be obvious when you see it. An effective brand positioning will be simple and may seem relatively intuitive to the customer.
However, something that can be obvious looking back on it might not be easy to get to in the first place. Just as sales professionals often have to navigate false objections to uncover the real ones, in coming up with a strong brand positioning, you often have to dig deep to figure out what are the actionable insights rather than insights which are true but don’t lead you anywhere useful.
Similarly, you need to work with what you have or could have. If your product quality isn’t best in class, for example, you need to choose benefits and reasons to believe that reflect that. That’s why some brands lean more on softer benefits such as familiarity, convenience or simplicity – they are crafting a brand positioning in an area where they can win.
Once you’ve clearly identified your brand positioning it then drives brand communication, packaging, design execution and portfolio strategy. So it needs to be consistent over time. If it is soundly considered in the first place, that is easy to achieve. A brand style guide then helps you ensure that the key elements are communicated in the right way repeatedly across all channels on and offline.
Brand positioning is a key part of your brand strategy and should match your brand ambition. Instead of reverse engineering a brand positioning from your current product or service line up, it’s better to take a step back and reevaluate what you would ideally want it to be.
Brand positioning is an essential strategic process used to help your business achieve stronger differentiation so you higher revenue, stronger customer loyalty and referral, larger market share and bigger brand IP asset value.
Related: How Branding Strategy is Different to Marketing
If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a profit powerhouse.
- Schedule a chat — we can meet in person online
- Let’s consider a customised plan for you
- And perhaps implement the plan together
- Contact us [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)
Lorraine Carter is a branding expert and international speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy expertise that solves problems — using agile branding strategy underpinned by professional big-brand know-how — so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind.
She enables you to differentiate, achieve higher revenue, expand your market share, build IP brand asset value — make the complex easy as ABC so you can Transform Your Brand & Increase Your Sales — Be The One, the brand that’s most credible, trusted and commanding a premium so you’re highly profitable and leaving your competitors way behind.
Ask about the Persona Leadership Branding Strategy Mastermind — live, interactively, face-to-face online.
Brand positioning is critical because it enables a brand to stand out from its competitors, to win and keep winning profitable business, so you consistently achieve stronger profit margins and higher sales.
It shouldn’t look complicated and doesn’t have to be complicated to get the optimal brand positioning – but it does need to be done right, for maximum impact.
Start with a clear understanding of what drives your target customers — the deeper insights of what really matters to them at an emotional level, so you can then offer appealing benefits aligned with ‘true’ reasons to believe — all of which must be especially credible for your product or service.
You’ll then be better able to build a resilient business that achieves higher revenue consistently, expand your market share and build brand IP asset value.
“We participated in the Persona Leadership Branding Strategy Mastermind Programme live online. The 12-week program suited us as the weekly accountability spurred us on to get work done between sessions.
We found the flow of the course appropriate for the development of the brand through the various areas of the business. Already, we have developed our Customers Personas and our Brand Persona adding value to the business.
The course has helped us make more astute decisions in the business such as restructuring our product offerings, so we grow more profitable lines and remove those with lower margins.
Lorraine is very helpful and accessible as a tutor with follow up after each live working session and the half-day masterclass. Most of all the clarity achieved has been most invaluable.
In the first two weeks of March 2020, before Covid-19 required us to close, we were 300% up in our online sales compared to the whole of March 2019 and after reopening April 2020 we were back to 108% by the end of May 2020 — results achieved from applying our brand strategy.”
Questions to Consider
- What sets your brand apart from its competitors?
- What customer needs and wants does your brand answer or fulfill?
- How does your customer feel as a result of that? What are their emotional drivers?
- Why is your brand especially well-suited to perform that role?
- How do you communicate that effectively?
- Could you use a brand audit to help you re-evaluate your brand positioning, so you can make it more effective?
Your Persona Client Satisfaction Guarantee
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- You’ll know each step of your brand building journey before we start because we’ll discuss it, document it and agree on it with you before work commences
- You’ll have timelines, key milestones and deliverables to evaluate and approve for each stage and part of your brand building process
- Because we know the unexpected sometimes happens we can make adjustments along the way if you need it and if something extra is requested we’ll ensure you’re fully appraised about what that entails before committing
- As we achieve pre-agreed objectives you’ll be able to evaluate your brand building work and strategy in progress, coupled with the outcomes to ensure return on investment
Get in touch today because we’d love to enable you to re-evaluate and build your standout, powerhouse brand so you can Be The One — increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind.
Email us [email protected] or ring us +35318322724 (GMT 9:00-17:30) and ask about the Persona VIP Brand Strategy Re-Evaluation.