Brand positioning

As a branding agency with a strategic focus we are always faced with the topic of brand positioning. There are questions such as what is brand positioning about and why is it important?

Simply said it is about what a brand stands for and how it can differentiate itself from competitors. To determine target groups, markets, pricing, distribution or quality is not enough. It is rather about giving the brand, not the product, a clear profile. Brands with a clear profile are more desirable and relevant to the target audience. Not only consumer goods but also services or investment products benefit from positioning. It also does not matter whether you are providing luxury, premium, affordable or discounted goods. Positioning a brand works for all sectors and levels.

Brand positioning is important if you want to achieve long term success. This is exactly what the Volkswagen Group has put at the top of its current group initiatives called the ‘driver of change’: “Sharpen positioning of brands”.

It is important for companies to take their brand positioning into consideration when developing and launching marketing campaigns. Marketing and Corporate Communications must reflect a brand’s positioning. This can be done in a very obvious or in a more subtle way. It also makes sense to see how competitors position their brands and what target audiences they aim at. If you don’t position your company or brands clearly enough you will aim at too many audiences and as a result, hit only few of your targets or none at all.

There are no limits in defining a brand’s positioning. It can be about lifestyle, dreams, attitude, performances, innovation, technology and many more. Even less emotional topics such as low price or value for money can be a way to position your brands.

Your target groups may not always see your brand positioned the way you do. There is the way you want to be perceived and there is the way your target audiences perceive your brand. If you want to find out how your brand is perceived by your customers and target groups; doing market research is a good way. Ideally both, the inside and the outside perception should match. Then you know you have done well. If you find out there is no match you should reassess what caused this difference of perception.

A brand’s positioning needs to be of relevance to your target groups. Isn’t it obvious what energy drink people that perform extreme sports would choose? Red Bull does not sell an energy drink. They sell a specific world or dreams that aim at sports people that like the extreme. The brand is relevant to them. Red Bull’s positioning is so clear and strong that no other energy drink brand should try to follow in their footsteps. It just would not be the ‘real thing’. But that does not mean another energy drink brand with its own distinctive positioning could not be successful.

It is important that a brand positioning is defined with a long term focus and should not be changed often. Only if a brand’s positioning appears to be weak, a change can be taken into consideration.

In order to support brand positioning through corporate and marketing communications, it is a good thing to have a brand tagline. It’s a short statement that reflects the essence of the positioning. There are some very good examples in the automobile-, sports-, beverage-, service- and finance industries. A brand that changes its tagline every two or three years makes it clear, that the right positioning has not been found yet. It is even better to have no tagline than a weak one. The tagline must be well thought through. It needs to be short and catchy and reveal the brand’s core strengths and differentiates it in a unique way from its competitors. It should not consist of more than five to six words.

Power Brand International wishes you ‘happy positioning’.

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