What is brand positioning?

January 23, 2023 | B2B Marketing, Branding and Rebranding, Positioning and Messaging

Like this? Share it.

A successful brand captures the essence of what makes a product or company unique. When you build your brand, you also need to look around and see how you are different from your competitors.

Brand positioning is figuring out how you compare to other options in the marketplace. It’s critical to set yourself apart from the competition.

what is brand positioning?

There’s always more than one business that a buyer can choose from. And as humans, we like to categorize and rank. So we do that with business options, too.

For example, there are probably many pizza places in your city. I might say in Portland, Maine, “Pizza Villa has been around for decades. They are classic. Flatbread has unique flavors. Monte’s serves Roman style, and Pizzaolo has those big, thin NY slices. Domino’s might work if you don’t want to wait and don’t want to pay a lot.”

All of these places serve pizza, but each is different than the others based on how they cook their pizza, the toppings they offer, whether it’s available by the slice, at the counter, sitting down or delivered, etc.

Why brand positioning matters

Imagine I’m a personal fitness trainer and have developed a core workout that can be completed in ten minutes. That sounds pretty good until I remember 8-minute abs. I should not position my training by how fast it is. Instead, I should look for other ways to stand out. Maybe the exercises are safer than other programs or can be done at your desk, or I’ll focus on a specific group of people, like women who have recently given birth.

Similarly, when you develop your visual identity or logo, you want to be sure that it’s distinct from your competitors. Even if your favorite design or color scheme seems perfect for your visual identity, it would be ill-advised to use it if it is too similar to a competitor. You don’t want to be confused with any other business.

How to understand or create your brand position

Your brand position is all about how you relate to other options in the marketplace. Start by researching your competitors. Create a list of your competitors and then describe how you are different.  

You may be smaller, bigger, more complex, more simple, more convenient, full-service, etc.

If you recognize that some of your differentiators put you first, make that benefit front and center. If you are the smallest, the most convenient, or the fastest, put your focus on it. 

You may find that you have some universal differences, or you may squeeze in between. For example, a Honda Civic is positioned as a small, durable, economical car. A Ferrari is a fast, expensive sports car. A Lexus is in the middle, fancier than many basic cars, but not ultra premium either.

Of course, it all depends on what you’re comparing yourself to. Some consider Lexus a ‘fancy’ Toyota because Toyota makes these cars. But Toyota decided to position the Lexus brand as a more luxury brand than the cars they sell under the Toyota brand.

Focus your positioning on your closest competitors. Burger King differentiates itself from McDonald’s, not from a Michelin-starred restaurant.

How brand positioning helps your business

Understanding your brand position and pushing or elevating your differentiators is helpful in many ways.

Know what features and benefits to emphasize

Your product or service likely has many features and benefits. It can be challenging to know which ones to talk about first. Once you compare your product or service to your competitors, you’ll see where there are similarities and what are most distinct. Brand positioning is all about capitalizing on differences.

For example, Jiffy Lube’s name fits perfectly with its core offering, which is fast oil changes. People may go there for an oil change but find another mechanic if they have more significant car issues. 

Compare your visual identity

When you are reviewing your competitors, also look at their visual identity. Look at what colors are in the logo or their website and what symbol or graphic is in their logo. You may want to review their website, social media postings, signage, or decor.

Remember that customers are reading, scrolling, and swiping quickly. First impressions, like color, have a considerable impact. Choosing a color or design style that stands out from other options in the marketplace will make your brand more memorable.

Take advantage of marketplace gaps

Back to the pizza example. Imagine you want to start a pizza restaurant and realize there already are quite a few in your city. Then, it’s time to figure out where there is still an opportunity. Maybe you can choose a different location. Perhaps you can stay open later than anyone else. Maybe you elevate pizza into a five-star meal. 

When you identify a gap in the marketplace, you can build your brand around what’s unique, and it becomes a business advantage.

Make your brand stand out

Your brand will be most successful if it’s unique and memorable. It takes many repetitions for people to understand and remember your brand. Ensuring that you are different than your competition will make it easier for your brand to stand out.

Let’s Talk