The best brands in the world have one thing in common: They stand apart from their competition.
From their logo designs to their product messaging, brands like Xero, Apple, Google and Slack differentiate themselves from their competitors to be instantly recognizable and build a loyal customer base. Brands that don’t get their positioning right can struggle to get noticed.
The process of determining these unique components of your brand is known as brand positioning.
In this article, you’ll learn what is brand positioning in marketing and its importance, plus how four successful companies use it.
The definition of brand positioning: The space your brand occupies in the mind of your buyers and the market. Essentially, it’s what makes your brand different from competitors and how customers perceive that difference.
A brand’s positioning comprises several elements, including (but not limited to) its name, identity and price point. These elements are woven into a narrative, also known as brand messaging, that teams from marketing and sales to customer operations can use.
Building targeted, consistent messaging is key to turning customers into lifetime fans.
Furthermore, a trusted brand has a competitive advantage. A recent Edelman survey found 81% of respondents need to trust a brand before they’ll buy something from them. Transcending generations and income brackets, today trust is fundamental in just about everyone’s buying decisions.
This is why strong brand positioning is important for any marketing strategy.
Let’s use two hypothetical software products as an example.
Product A is made by an established brand that offers B2B companies a way to automate marketing activities using API integrations.
Product B offers a no-code solution to connect apps without building from scratch.
No-code triggers don’t need an engineer to implement and will save a company time setting up automations. The brand that makes Product B can use this reasoning to market it as an efficient, easy-to-use automation tool that doesn’t require a specialist. It creates points of difference between them and their competitors (Product A and similar solutions), highlighting the value for the customer immediately and giving Product B a unique platform to build trust.
Now that we’ve covered the definition of brand positioning, what is a brand positioning strategy? An effective brand positioning strategy comprises elements like your brand’s identity and its price point. It ultimately separates your product from your competitors.
Whether or not consumers are aware of it, they make instant decisions about a brand from its messaging and positioning. If your brand fails to make an impact or doesn’t instill trust, it’s unlikely to take hold in a customer’s mind, permitting them to move on to a competitor.
With a brand positioning strategy, you’ll be able to:
Market your brand to stand out from competitors. Brand positioning allows you to highlight everything unique about your product. It also explains why your brand is a better fit for your target customers than your competitors.
Remain consistent with every sales and marketing message. Even in saturated industries, brands can still create messaging that’s unique and true to their overall marketing goals. A brand positioning strategy helps keep your messaging consistent with your product, so it’s instantly recognizable to your customers, no matter what platform they see it on.
Piecing together different brand elements makes it easier to tell a story about why it exists and who you are there to help.
Using Pipedrive as an example, here are five elements to consider:
Use your product’s differentiation points to build a competitive brand position. Think about how your product helps your customers reach their goals or solve their problems in a way other brands don’t.
If you’re not sure what this is, ask your customers. Customer research through surveys and interviews can give you insights into what your customers like the most about your product. It’s a critical part of honing your message to speak directly to your customers’ needs.
Incorporate your high-quality value proposition into your own brand positioning so it resonates better with your target demographic. This is where customer research comes in. Avoid overcomplicated business and marketing jargon and talk about your product like your customer does.
For example, here’s how Pipedrive talks about our product on our homepage:
“The all-in-one sales platform for growing revenue.”
We don’t talk about the product itself in technical terms but in a way that our target audience can quickly relate to. Sales and marketing professionals can easily see that Pipedrive helps them consolidate and manage daily tasks while growing their bottom line.
Incorporating your brand’s identity into your positioning is just as important as product features or price.
In a crowded industry, your brand’s look and feel, its tone of voice and its story can set it apart from your competitors.
Defining a brand identity is an important process involving multiple components, like market research and design. It usually isn’t solved in one afternoon.
You can get started by answering questions like:
Why is your brand different from your competitors?
What does your brand stand for?
Why did you build this product?
What value do you want your target audience to get from your brand?
Keep your identity consistent by creating a brand book or brand guidelines that house rules like your logo use instructions, values and mission statement.
Here is how Pipedrive incorporates identity into its brand positioning:
“Pipedrive is the first CRM platform made for salespeople, by salespeople.”
We want our target audience to know that Pipedrive was built with insider knowledge of the industry, so we’re best positioned to solve those unique everyday challenges.
Your company name should be instantly recognizable and reflect your brand personality. You can also rename your product and its features to stand out.
For example, the creators of Zapier knew they wanted to include “API” somewhere in their product name so their target audience would recognize its core functionality. The brand had also decided to name automations “Zaps” instead of “triggers” to help set it apart from competitors.
When it came time to nail down the company name, the founders merged zaps and APIs to form the name “Zapier”.
Choosing the right brand name takes some thought. Wherever you land, it should be purposeful and ideally highlight the problem your product is solving.
A large part of your brand positioning marketing strategy will revolve around your unique selling point (USP) and your tagline.
Our USP at Pipedrive is simple:
“Pipedrive is the first CRM platform made for salespeople, by salespeople.”
Our co-founders were salespeople, so they knew what a CRM for salespeople needed from experience. To demonstrate this to prospects, we embedded it in our tagline.
As we’ve said before, consistency is key. This is especially true when it comes to your brand’s marketing strategy. Your USP and brand identity will need to be reliably the same everywhere your customer comes into contact with your brand. Shortening your brand positioning to no more than a few lines can help everyone on your team remember it.
Finally, think about your price point and how your target audience will perceive it.
Pricing can be a major factor in a prospect’s decision-making process. When you charge a higher price than competitors in your industry, your positioning strategy can help convince your target market it’s worth it.
If you’re offering more features, better customer support or higher quality, this is the place to highlight it.
Alternatively, if you’re underselling the competition, you can let customers know why your product or service is still high quality.
Once these elements have been decided on, begin crafting a brand positioning statement. You might be familiar with company mission statements, but what is a brand positioning statement?
In a sentence or two, your brand positioning statement should clearly articulate what makes your product unique from your competitors and why your target prospects should pick you. A brand positioning statement outlines exactly what your company does, who your product is for and how it’ll help your target audience reach its goals.
A brand positioning statement can take many forms. For some, it’s a paragraph; for others, it’s a single line.
Taking all of the elements above, use this template to craft the bones of a compelling brand positioning statement:
[Your brand name] is a [define your product in your customer’s voice] for [describe your target audience]. It helps [describe the problem it solves] so your company can [describe the benefit to your customer].
Using this template, here’s what Pipedrive’s most basic brand positioning statement could look like:
Pipedrive is a CRM created by salespeople for salespeople. It helps users visualize their sales processes so your company can get more done and close more deals.
Instruct all teams to use this brand positioning statement to guide their actions. From marketing to sales to customer success, the brand positioning statement keeps your brand consistent.
To build a compelling new positioning statement, take advice from some top-performing brands.
Here are four famous brand positioning examples from the most successful B2B and SaaS companies on the planet. Each of them has used market positioning, storytelling and identity to grow their companies.
Zapier is a tool that enables companies to automate repetitive tasks between two or more tools in their tech stack without writing any code.
When Zapier launched in 2011, its goal was to extend the functionality of apps so users could integrate features and be more productive. Instead of hiring an engineer to connect APIs between tools or manually writing code, Zapier empowers its users to build connections themselves using “Zaps”.
Here is Zapier’s brand positioning statement:
Connect your apps and automate workflows. Easy automation for busy people. Zapier moves info between your web apps automatically, so you can focus on your most important work.
Why Zapier’s brand positioning statement works
Zapier’s USP is that its customers don’t need to learn how to code to make their tech stacks more productive.
The brand understands that some daily activities, like exporting information, can be time-consuming and monotonous, and employees would love to focus on more valuable work.
Zapier’s brand positioning statement focuses on what it can do for its customers. The message is compelling for selling Zapier to decision-makers because they can easily draw the line between “most important work” and their bottom line.
Slack is a team communication tool. It competes with big players, like Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts. It was certainly not the first chat application on the market, but it rose to fame despite this, thanks to excellent positioning and a strong product offering.
Here is Slack’s brand positioning statement:
Making work simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Slack is the collaboration hub that brings the right people, information and tools together to get work done. From Fortune 100 companies to corner markets, millions of people around the world use Slack to connect their teams, unify their systems, and drive their business forward.
Why Slack’s brand positioning statement works
Slack reinforces this message constantly when talking about its communication tool. The brand has tied its product to its identity and uses goals like productivity and happier work environments to target broad customer markets.
Most companies strive to do what Slack’s brand positioning says it can help them with, like being more connected and working together as a team. Essentially, it helps them stay connected while staying out of their email inboxes.
Slack’s brand positioning statement also uses social proof to emphasize its effectiveness. By mentioning Fortune 100 companies, Slack reinforces that some of the most successful brands on earth already trust its product to help with communication and team bonding.
It allows Slack to capture a huge target market. Large corporations, startups and mom-and-pop businesses alike use Slack to reach the same goal: driving their business forward.
When Trello launched its Kanban board software in 2011, it didn’t just market it to large corporations or tech companies.
Trello branded itself differently by appealing to a problem that most people experience (being unorganized) and giving them a solution (better planning).
Here is Trello’s brand positioning statement:
The way your team works is unique – so is Trello. Trello is the flexible work management tool where teams can ideate plans, collaborate on projects, organize workflows and track progress in a visual, productive and rewarding way. From ideation to planning to execution, Trello manages the big milestones and the day-to-day tasks of working together and getting things done.
Why Trello’s brand positioning statement works
Trello’s brand positioning statement doesn’t focus on the product; it talks about the people it’ll help (people managing and collaborating with teams).
Trello’s brand positioning statement revolves around its flexibility, organization and collaboration enablement. Noting activities that people with teams do every day (brainstorming, planning, executing tasks), they quickly connect to the struggles in the minds of the target market.
Trello offers a way to do it better. With 50 million users, its brand repositioning is working.
Xero’s software targets two ends of the bookkeeping spectrum, from business owners to accountants.
The tool allows business owners to manage their cash flow and taxes and integrate them into other apps in their existing tech stack. Accountants can also use it to manage clients and compile tax returns for customers.
This is why the platform has built a handy positioning toolkit. It houses documents that make it easier for partners (accountants and other tools) and business owners with teams to communicate Xero’s benefits.
Here is Xero’s brand positioning statement:
Spend more time doing what you love – wherever you like – while Xero helps you grow a more efficient, professional, successful business.
Why Xero’s brand positioning statement works
Xero recognizes that most people look at its product (accounting software) as something tedious and boring but necessary. For this reason, they avoid talking about their product and focus heavily on the benefits to their customers.
It’s this omission that humanizes the platform and helps it stand apart.
By focusing on business growth and time to do more enjoyable activities, instead of accounting software features, Xero’s brand positioning statement encourages its target market to rethink its approach to accounting.
Building trust in your brand helps sell products and grow your business.
The way you position yourself in the market will impact how your customers perceive you. By creating an identity that your customers can relate to and telling a compelling story about your product, you can build a unique brand with a loyal following.
Create a positioning strategy and think about your target audience to help tell a story that will make your brand instantly recognizable.
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