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brand positioning: how to settle in the customer's mind

How much does a world-class violinist earn? It depends on how they market themselves. Joshua Bell plays on a 1713 Stradivarius violin worth $3.5 million. At the peak of his career, The Washington Post asked him to participate in a social experiment. The world's best violinist played on the most beautiful violin in the world... outside a metro station. Thousands of people passed him by and he earned only $32 per hour. A few days later, he played at the Boston Concert Hall and earned $60,000 per hour.

So, it turns out that the same musician played the same music on the same violin with such different results. What influenced the outcome? In one word, positioning. If you are a professional musician but position yourself as a wandering artist playing in the subway for pennies, your "clients" will treat you accordingly.

Companies must clearly articulate the position they want to occupy in the consumer's mind, without using confusing metaphors. A concert performer or a wandering artist? Truly successful brands can be easily described with one sentence, and some with just a couple of words. The clearer we understand the role of a brand in our lives, the more often we turn to it and choose it.

Let's figure out how positioning can help a brand take its place in the minds of consumers.

What is brand positioning?

Positioning is a set of company attributes that answer the question of why a product or service should be purchased from your company. In simpler terms, it is the process of creating your brand in the minds of your customers.

Is it necessary to define your positioning? After all, everything seems to be clear. You sell carpets, we do branding, and the third party sells milkshakes. But if you don't do this - define your clear position - then the customers will do it for you. You will remain just a carpet seller among thousands of others, we will be just one of hundreds of branding agencies, and milkshakes are already sold everywhere - why should people come to you? The absence of a position is also a position, but it is weak and losing.

There is one more thing: you may have a weak position, an unclear message, and while you think everything is great, you spend money and time on advertising and promotion, losing both. Imagine that marketing is an amplifier. You told one person about your idea and they didn't understand what's so special about it. You told ten, and they also didn't scream with excitement. What do they understand? And then you take a marketing amplifier, spend money on it, and tell the same thing to 10,000 people. Their reaction is unlikely to be different.

So your positioning should be:

  • - clear and straightforward,
  • - well thought out,
  • - preferably tested and confirmed by research.

What will thoughtful positioning give you?

At worst, you lose money and time. But what do you get if you formulate and broadcast your position correctly?

Disassociation from competitors: allows you to stand out and be remembered.

People may not come to you for carpets - but they will come if you position yourself as a carpet manufacturer with naturally dyed threads.

Synchronization of all communication: employees responsible for creating communication materials will be on the same wavelength, which saves budget and time for implementation.

They come to us not just because we are a branding agency, but because we specialize in research - each specialist in their expertise and all in a complex, which minimizes incorrect hypotheses in project development.

Simplification of brand perception by the audience: we occupy a shelf in the consumer's mind as "the cheapest," "the most useful," "the first," "the assistant," and it is much easier to remember and associate at the right moment.

They will drive through traffic jams and around corners for milkshakes because only you make them according to original American recipes.

What positioning to choose?

Unlike the popular misconception, brand positioning is more than just a catchy phrase or a bright logo. It is a strategy that allows you to distinguish your company from competitors. In your strategy, you can focus on different components.

Price. This strategy means prevailing over competitors in the price range. And here, the point is not only to offer the lowest price; it can be about the highest price and "fair prices for fair goods" in the average price segment.

American giant WalMart chose a price positioning strategy in its time. Its strategy includes such components as the maximum range and minimum, striving for wholesale, prices. To achieve this goal, the company's founder, Sam Walton, tried to avoid intermediaries by purchasing goods from the manufacturers themselves. In addition, he reduced prices, earning less profit than competitors. Walton believed that in the long run, this would be compensated. And so it happened, and the company became one of the largest in USA.

Innovativeness. If you base your product on innovative technology, then your positioning strategy should also be built on promoting your technologies. However, there is one small caveat with an asterisk: you must either be confident that your technology cannot be replicated, or be prepared for a constant technological race with your competitors.

Faberlic built its strategy on innovativeness — "the world's number one oxygen cosmetics," Geox — "breathable shoes," and Tesla's security technology for cars.

Audience. This strategy shows your audience that they are unique and in a way, chosen in the context of your product.

Pepsi demonstrates this position coolly with the slogan "Next generation." And a noteworthy archival example of such audience positioning appeared in 70s car advertising: LADA — for a young and active audience, Moskvich-Kombi — for families thanks to its spacious trunk, and as for Volga — for a conservative but fashionable audience, close to the Soviet nomenclature.

Uniqueness — the fastest way to create a special image in the minds of buyers. However, today, creating a unique product is difficult due to an overabundance of similar offerings in a developed market.

But once upon a time, a small soda production company decided to make a unique taste for their drinks and position their product as unique, attributing it to healing properties. Now, the Coca-Cola brand is one of the most recognizable and popular in the world.

Benefit in money, time, or sensation — such as "first month free" or "turnkey assembly + delivery." But there is also a caveat here — your competitors can easily copy this strategy, so you must always be on guard or make your benefit unique.

The chewing gum Orbit positions itself as providing a snow-white smile and protection against cavities, the chocolate bar Snickers satisfies hunger, and Tele2 encourages customers to "exchange minutes for GBs".

Competition. The main goal of this positioning strategy is not only to differentiate oneself from the competition based on some characteristic but also to divide the audience into followers of one's brand and others. This can involve trolling and teasing competitors, veiled comparisons in advertising, and even explicit claims of superiority.

Burger King's pursuit of its main competitor, McDonald's, has already become commonplace. For example, Burger King cleverly used McDonald's advantage to its own advantage in one of its ads. In France, there are only 45 Burger King restaurants compared to more than 1300 McDonald's. It would seem that the latter are in the lead. But Burger King released a video encouraging people to drive to their restaurant while stopping at McDonald's on the way, since Burger King's products are worth it.

The Hidden Factor in Successful Positioning

The human factor always remains one of the most important in branding and communications. And it's not just about accurately targeting the audience or communicating with customers, it's about the team.

Half the battle is coming up with positioning and developing a strategy for it. The success of implementing this strategy will depend directly on the efforts of the entire team. Do you think a football team will win a match if the defender's task is to run six laps around the football field, the goalkeeper's task is to catch four balls, and the striker's task is just to be handsome and move photogenically in front of the camera?

Choose a team with a common goal and shared values, but it's also important that the people working on the brand's development believe in the chosen position.

So what's the bottom line?

Companies often work separately on their visual image, reputation, and product quality. Positioning is designed to bring all of these elements together. Only by adhering to a unified position or idea can a strong, competitive brand be built that will stick in consumers' minds and resurface when they need to make a choice.

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