What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is what your customer thinks of when they think of your brand. 

More importantly, it's how your brand is perceived in the context of what the alternatives are or might be. Why is this important? Because it can be the differentiating factor between choosing one product (yours) vs. another. 

Volvo is a famous example of using positioning well. Volvo's brand positioning is "safety". They have managed to own that word in the car category. Ask anyone what the safest car out there is and (in their minds) Volvo will be at or near the top of the list. Volvo "owns" that positioning in our minds and anyone looking for a safe car, will give Volvo a good look. 

Brand positioning, by its nature, is a narrowing of scope. You can't position your brand broadly. It would be really hard for Volvo to be both the safest AND also the best performer. BMW owns that distinction. It positions itself using the tagline "The ultimate driving machine". They sell to a very specific group of people that value performance and will pay for it.

Positioning can illustrate value 

Now, you don't have to be a brand with a massive advertising budget to position yourself well. 

In the juicing category BluePrint, the cold-pressed juice brand that hit the scene a few years ago, used positioning to set it apart from other juice brands and command nearly double the price of other juices. How did they do that? By positioning it as a juice cleanse instead of just juice. They also used simple and minimalist branding to stand out as something different when compared to all the other "crunchy" designs that were out in the marketplace at the time.

It turns out, there is a group of juice drinkers that will pay more for the experience of completing a multi-day juice cleanse, then they would for just another bottle of juice - even if they drank the same amount of juice over the same period. 

This same segment (or tribe) also happens to like simple, minimalist design. So when they see BluePrint's packaging in the store, they might say to themselves something like: "What's this? This looks different".

That's exactly what I thought the first time I saw it in the store. The next thing I noticed was the price. "Ten bucks for a bottle of juice!" That was too much for me, so I did not buy their product that day - I'm not part of that tribe of people that values juice cleanses.

I like minimalist design, and so I noticed the packaging and was drawn towards it, but the price was too much for me, and I've never done a juice cleanse so that part of it didn't sway me. However, it did persuade my wife. She likes fresh juice, appreciates modern design and has done juice cleanses in the past, so she's willing to pay a premium for it.

When you think about the hassle of buying the fruits and veggies, doing all the prep work, and then the clean up of a 5-day juice cleanse, paying $10 a day seems more worth it.

Using the frame of reference (positioning) of a cleanse, illustrates that value more clearly.

Positioning for professional services

You can also use brand positioning in other types of businesses. Run a service-based B2B company? Narrow your service offering and you'll likely be able to charge more for the service. Specialists always gets paid more than generalists. 

Think about it. If you had a heart condition, would you pay more to see the top specialist in the country? You probably would. 

Here are a couple of examples of service based companies that specialize:

  • A company that specializes in Powerpoint and Keynote presentations for executives
  • A company that solely creates infographics for Fortune 100 companies
  • An individual that coordinates events with sponsorships for the tech industry

Notice how specific those are? If you were in need of that particular service, wouldn't you want a specialist? You'd likely pay more for it too. 

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Have you thought of any ways you can position your brand in the minds of your customers that is different from your competition?

Have questions about how to position your brand? I want to hear from you. 

Leave your questions in the comments below.