Brand positioning feels like the concept out of a sci-fi movie. If you’ve watched the movie inception, you know how it’s like planting an idea into your prospect’s mind.
It’s about getting into your customer’s head but not with electric shocks or hypnosis. By entering their minds with empathy.
It’s possible with a conscious effort. Likes of which the marketing world calls Brand Positioning.
More often than not, it becomes the reason why people prefer your brand over your competitors.
Why should you even care about positioning your brand?
In simple words, it’s a game of perception. The way people see you as a brand is much more favorable when it goes in the direction you intended.
Positioning is how you control the narrative. Once you have that, the ball is in your court.
People are going to talk about your brand one way or another. Positioning helps you ensure that they’re talking the way you wanted them to.
Let me make it easier to understand.
There are a bunch of smartphones in 2021 that are priced at a premium. Usually called the flagships.
And still, most people remember Apple as a premium smartphone brand. Do you know why?
Because their positioning is not based on price inflation. It is based on conscious brand positioning with each step of the way.
Their deals & discounts,
and a ton of other essentials.
After a while, you can’t see. Only feel. That’s what the purpose of branding is.
Apple is sure that they occupy a little space in your head that says “iPhones are premium products.”
Pricing is just one way of being called a premium brand. The narrative is second, and that’s what positioning helps you get.
The most important to note here is that brand positioning is the only way you survive in a saturated market.
When people say it’s a high competition market, it means you either innovate to a level never seen before. Or build such a strong cult that innovation doesn’t matter anymore.
Think of it this way- If there were no brand positioning, there would only be one brand in every category. Smartphones, laptops, apparel, or even restaurants.
But, is there just one of everything? Absolutely not. Because people want to buy what they relate to. Not a standardized one-size-fits-all brand.
People love to express themselves with products, and your brand becomes the expression.
This might leave you with a question,
Where should I start with my brand positioning strategy?
Don’t sweat it. I like to see it as more of an evolutionary process than a revolutionary one. Starting out, you should focus on three things:
- Core Values & Offer: You must have started your business with some USPs in mind. It’s time to let them out in the open and communicate clearly what differentiates you. Based on this communication is how you’ll find your voice in a million brands.
For Eg: Out of a million T-shirt brands in the market, your brand doesn’t necessarily need to focus on fashion.
It can touch upon subjects like sustainability, environment friendly, and fair labor practices.
- Competitor Research: The best way to learn is to observe people who’re already doing it. Look at how other brands in your niche are doing their thing. Double down on key strategies, and identify positioning gaps.
For Eg: Let’s say yours is a beauty brand and, your competitors’ nail down their positioning by being vegan.
You can start a brand with similar products but tie it to a sense of individualism and identity.
- Market Research: If you believe in the statement “customer is king,” you’re on the right track. Apart from researching your competitors, you need to know what people want. If they are in the market for something specific, figure out how can you fill that specific gap.
For Eg: Starbucks is the world’s most famous coffee brand. But it does not have a subscription service that can deliver new flavors to you monthly.
A simple survey will help you find out the need in the market, and that’s how you identify gaps. (Brands like Sleepy Owl coffee are doing it well.)
A real-life account of brand positioning I observed:
I started using Slack for a couple of days.
Heads up! I’ve used discord for quite some time and, I realized that both of them are 90% the same, in terms of cold-hard features.
Have different channels/servers
Have voice and video capabilities
Have bots for automation
Serve online communities for seamless communication
What’s the difference, then?
Some features are specific to both platforms. But, other than that, the main difference is how it makes you feel.
The beauty is with brand positioning. It’s so strong that gamers don’t want to climb the invisible fence to come to Slack. And working professionals don’t see discord as a professional communication tool.
The branding mask is so tight that most people don’t even realize how Peter Parker is, in fact, Spiderman.
So, I’ve realized that Branding is basically everything. Literally.
If you control the narrative, you control the market. And, indeed, the consumers.
Just like humans are made out of a billion atoms, your brand is built on the same conscious efforts. Positioning is like putting the first atom in place.
Innovation can be creating something from scratch. Or re-creating something from a completely fresh perspective.
We’re living in the golden age of information, so it’s obvious that markets are going to be saturated.
What’s not so obvious is how you can take a saturated market and sprinkle brand positioning over it. That’s what businesses need to focus on more.
If there could be a MIP (most important points) for starting a business today, it should go like this:
1. Develop an MVP
2. If it’s truly something new, market it hard.
3. If it isn’t, start with an aggressive brand positioning strategy first.
4. Everything else
You get the gist, I hope.
With that, here’s a question!
What’s your favorite thing about your favorite brand?
Let me know in the comments.