Brand Positioning Standards and Practices - Part 3: Brand Positioning Strategy Development

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Posted Nov 30, 2011
Susan Gunelius

So far in the Brand Positioning Standards and Practices series, you've learn what brand positioning is and how and why you need to conduct brand positioning research to develop an effective brand positioning strategy. Now, it's time to dive deeper into that brand positioning strategy, and that starts with defining what your brand positioning strategy is and how it should be used to build your brand.

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brand positioning

In simplest terms, your brand positioning strategy defines the space your brand owns in the market and in consumers' minds as well as your goals for that brand. Additionally, it defines why you want to reach those goals. What are the strategic reasons why those are the right goals for your brand position? In other words, you need to prove in your brand positioning strategy that the direction you set for your brand is the correct one.

Your strategy should include much of the information you gathered during the research phase discussed in Part 2 of this series. For example, it should define who your competitors are, describe the market where you’ll be doing business, who your target customers are, what is important to them, and how you can meet their needs in a different way than other brands.

Once you develop your brand positioning strategy, you can develop a marketing plan and tactics to bring that strategy to life and set you on the road to achieving your brand positioning goals. Don't be tempted to put the cart before the horse and jump straight to tactics. Strategy must always come first.

The Power of 3 Words

Branding expert and author Jack Trout advocates the simplest brand positioning strategy possible. He believes that the best and most successful brands occupy very specific positions in consumers minds, and those positions can be translated into a brand positioning statement of no more than 5 words. He wrote a post on Branding Strategy Insider a few years ago that is still 100% accurate today where he said:

"I have never seen a great brand positioning strategy that needed more than three words to define the brand. Any more than that and the probability of achieving any kind of impact on the market turns almost immediately to zero."

Great branding focuses on the two or three things that mark the brand out as different. Great positioning always consists of unexpected words born from research, forged through heritage, and destined to differentiate. I cannot tell you what those words should be, but I can tell you that if you are claiming 'innovation' or 'excellence' in your positioning, you will achieve the opposite.

The trick is creating a brand positioning statement that accurately encompasses your brand within three words (or as close to that as you can get). Think of it this way, consumers don't have the time, patience, or desire to sift through cluttered messages to get to the meat of the matter. If your brand position isn't clear, concise, and believable, it will have no chance of snatching a space in consumers' minds for more than a nanosecond. Your brand positioning strategy has to set the focus and direction of your brand in a way that is instantly meaningful to consumers.

The Importance of Brand Focus to Strategic Planning

Many brands fall victim to the "jack of all trades, master of none" trap, but broader is never better when it comes to brand positioning. The trick is finding the specific differentiators that set your brand apart from the competition. This is particularly challenging when you're entering an established market with a clear market leader. Don't try to attack the leader head on. Instead, identify opportunities for you to differentiate your brand. Create and own a new place in consumers' minds with a focused brand position.

facebook mark zuckerberg

Remember when Facebook first came on the scene? Mark Zuckerberg's original positioning strategy for Facebook wasn't to attack MySpace head on. Instead, Facebook was positioned as a social space online for college students. That description is just six words. AYTM Co-founder David Handel suggests a concise positioning statement for Facebook could be, "the world's social graph."

There are many ways to create a new space in an existing market. If you can't be first to market, think of how you can be different or better in a very specific way. Less is more when it comes to developing your brand positioning statement. Once you have that statement created, you can put together a strategy that includes specific short-term and long-term goals for your brand with confidence that you can actually achieve them.Up next in the Brand Positioning Standards and Practices Series is Part 4 where you'll learn about repositioning. In the meantime, follow the links to read Part 1 to learn what brand positioning is and Part 2 to learn about brand positioning research.

.Images: stock.xchng, Flickr

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