Positioning 101

Written by Alex Valderrama, Founder and Principal of Cranium Agency

Today we will cover the initial steps necessary to begin positioning your new brand. Although our focus will be on new a brand launch, this exercise can also be used for existing brands with the goal of repositioning.

I often read articles about positioning. They mainly cover the end result of a strong brand position and cite taglines which are used to connect with their prospective customers. What many fail to focus on are the initial steps necessary for a strong positioning. We will cover an initial fundamental positioning exercise every company should go through. Note: this exercise is one part of a series of branding activities which should be completed to define a strong brand position accurately. Other brand activities that are necessary include integration of business goals, SWOT statement, understanding your brand essence, company/product description, culture, etc. These are needed because they help to define the final outcome of a strong position through which campaigns and taglines are created. While we will not cover other major exercises, I hope this article helps you get started thinking about your brand position.

Although positioning can be one of the most challenging aspects of defining where a brand can compete, often many marketing professionals get caught up on the nuts and bolts of running a marketing campaign. They sometimes do not consider the larger strategy. Positioning a new brand is essential to the broader business strategy and helps to clarify overall branding and business goals. A strong brand position is also imperative because it helps to drive the brand story that is meaningful, unique and engaging.

Below are four steps that will help you to begin understanding where your new brand is positioned in comparison to your competitors.

1. Know your competitors. Take a look at your top competitors and make a list of their differentiators (what makes them unique and different). Do you see a trend? Are there any that stand out from the rest? Defining these characteristics and top brand points will help you to understand where the competition is.

2. Define your uniqueness. This typically starts with identifying your differentiators and digging a little deeper to determine what brand characteristics are unique to your brand. Also, know what differentiates your brand from the competitors.

3. Compare and contrast. Once you have defined the unique points of the brand, plot them on a graph and compare them to your top competitors. The outcome will be the basic fundamental “positioning” of your new brand.

4. Position your brand for success. Once you have plotted your brand points against the brand points of your competitors, you should have a more clear understanding of where your brand can honestly compete. Several factors should be taken into consideration to finalize your positioning statement. As mentioned above, an integration of your business goals, SWOT statement, understanding your brand essence, company/product description, culture, etc., should be used to help define your new brand position. These are necessary because they will offer additional insight into your new brand and will also contribute to defining an accurate and honest brand position.

Finally, a strong brand position should reflect an emotional connection between your new brand and your customer. Additionally, there should be a good balance between your new brand position and your client’s needs. The process of getting there is sometimes challenging, but the benefits of clearly understanding your new brand and your customer’s needs are necessary for a successful new brand launch.