Branding is often considered the “soft” part of marketing. You can almost imagine a founder sitting on a rock in a remote desert, reaching a moment of mystical inspiration when he or she, through deep meditation, finally finds the words to express a feeling that resonates with us in a deep way. But in today’s world, as you prepare to launch your product, you may want to consider a more measured approach to your brand positioning. In a prior blog post, we took a deep dive into Market Evaluation, where we provided analysis tools to assess whether the market has potential profit in the short and long term. Such an analysis is key to determining a solid positioning statement. Every piece of content you produce thereafter — whether it’s a logo, a social media campaign, or product design — should all be in line with the brand positioning and reflect a consistent brand presentation. Therefore, the positioning statement must be clear and focused enough to assist your team's decisions on subsequent marketing efforts. Keeping on track with brand strategy is helpful for new startups as well as established brands that are in the process of rebranding.
Hubspot provides a concise template for a positioning statement: For [your target market] who [target market need], [your brand name] provides [main benefit that differentiates your offering from competitors] because [reason why target market should believe your differentiation statement.”1 Along with market evaluation, there are several factors we can look at to help develop a strong core positioning statement.
Start with a brand positioning map
Brand positioning maps help in assessing each competitor’s strengths in the landscape as well as possible opportunities for a newcomer. Draw two axes in the middle of a piece of paper or on a board. Name each of the two characteristics/dimensions that come to your mind when thinking of brands in this space. For example, you can name the y axis “price” and the x axis “ease of use “ or chart “quantity” versus “quality,” “innovation” versus “reliability.” Next, plot specific brands in each of the four quadrants created by evaluating where they are in terms of these two dimensions compared to other brands. Who is the brand with the highest price and lowest ease of use?” Who is the brand with the lowest price and highest ease of use? You will start to get a picture of where each brand is in the space. If you perform this exercise a few times with different dimensions and plot the brands you are competing with, you can gain insights on gaps in the market. Such insights can assist you to describe the desired future position of your brand.
Through analysis of a positioning map, you may find that there is a new target audience that is not being addressed by existing brands in the market. For example, Yellow Tail, the Australian winemaker, did not try to compete for the attention of wine connoisseurs. Rather, the company created a social drink accessible to wine drinkers and non wine-drinkers alike with a positioning statement centered around being fun and approachable. This branding strategy in which a company seeks to fill areas of the market that are far less crowded is called Blue Ocean Strategy.
Make an emotional connection
While analyzing the market is important, you should not neglect the emotional aspect that a brand holds in the hearts of its loyal customers. “Emotional motivators” 2 can be used to predict purchasing behavior. Instead of investing in making dissatisfied customers into satisfied ones, companies may want to direct more of their money to moving their customers along a path from being highly satisfied to being fully connected. In a comprehensive research done by Harvard Business Review,3 a retailer quantified and scored the emotional impact of its different touchpoints with its customers along its varied marketing channels. Through statistical modeling, the retailer discovered the most influential touchpoint combination at each stage of the customer journey. It then optimized the messaging across each stage and in the process significantly improved its bottom line.
Creating a memorable brand positioning statement that resonates can be achieved through a combination of data-driven analysis and creativity. Through different exercises such as positioning maps and filling out positioning templates, you can explore and uncover the valuable nuances behind what uniquely defines your brand and makes you stand out in the crowd.
1 Craft a Positioning Statement With This Template & Examples/Hubspot
2 The New Science of Customer Emotions/Harvard Business Review
3 The New Science of Customer Emotions/Harvard Business Review