How to Develop a Brand Positioning Strategy: 7 Key Steps
Developing a strong brand positioning strategy is a secret weapon that will help your business stand out in a crowded market. Without a clear understanding of what sets your brand apart from the competition, you risk getting lost in the noise and failing to connect with your target audience.
A strong brand positioning strategy helps you define your unique selling proposition and communicate it effectively to your target customers. It also enables you to develop a brand persona that resonates with your target audience and creates a memorable brand experience across all brand touchpoints. Ultimately, having a well-defined brand positioning strategy helps you build trust and loyalty with your customers, leading to increased brand recognition, customer retention, and business success.
In this blog post on how to create a successful brand positioning strategy for your business, we will walk you through the key steps to developing a killer brand positioning strategy and how to execute it in the real world so that you attract and retain your ideal customers. Ready to take some notes? Grab a pen, and let's get started!
Identify your differentiators
What sets your business apart from the competition? What unique value do you offer that no one else can? What is it about your brand that attracts your target customers? Identifying your differentiators is the first step in developing a brand positioning strategy that sets you apart.
Your differentiators could be the specific product or service you offer, the way you offer it, your company culture, your values, your customer experience, or anything else you consider to be a core feature of your organization. If you're not sure what those differentiators might be, start by analyzing your business from the perspective of your target audience. What do they need and want from your product or service? How can you fulfill those needs in a way that no one else can? How should interacting with your brand make them feel?
At Quill Creative Studio, we understand the importance of identifying your differentiators and building a brand positioning strategy around them. That's why when we work on a branding project for a client, we start from the very bottom and work up. Our brand positioning workshop begins by helping businesses uncover their unique features and attributes, their functional benefits, and their emotional benefits.
Take Apple, for example. Their branding is almost always on point, and it's because they've spent years zeroing in on:
- Their key attributes and features — sleek, minimalist design, user-friendly interfaces, and seamless integration across devices
- Their functional benefits — improved user experience, increased productivity, and convenience.
- Their emotional benefits — their products evoke a sense of exclusivity, creativity, and innovation.
Zeroing in on these pillars is what the brand positioning workshop is all about. We'll work to narrow down the core differentiators and identify how to encapsulate them in a brand positioning statement, which will then inform your brand strategy, brand identity, and ongoing brand management.
Identify your competition.
Part of figuring out what unique differentiators will work for your business is knowing who your competition is, which is why market research is your BFF when it comes to putting together a brand strategy. Conducting a competitive analysis to understand your competitors' strengths and weaknesses and an industry analysis to identify trends and opportunities will go a long way in building a brand identity and strategy that stand the test of time.
Pay attention to the language your competitors use to describe their offerings. What common claims and words are they using to describe their products or services? What words are popping up frequently when researching your specific industry? Make a list. Okay, now throw that list away and vow never to use those words again.
By avoiding the language of your competitors and steering clear of buzzwords and cliches, you will set yourself apart from the competition and build a brand positioning strategy that showcases your unique place in your industry.
Identify your ideal customer persona.
Who is your ideal customer? Like when honing in on your differentiators, you'll have to dig deep, going beyond surface demographics like age, education, and income to answer this question. What are their behaviors and preferences? What do they care about? Where do they get their information? What types of brands are they loyal to? What are their habits? What problems do they have, and how can you appeal to them emotionally with your service or product as the solution?
If you’re just not sure who that ideal customer is, or you feel like you’re making assumptions about your customers that you can’t back up, consider conducting a survey of your current customers or your community. A survey can take some of the guesswork out of identifying a target customer by providing you with hard data about the behaviors and demographics of your audience. And because we all know that it can be like pulling teeth to get people to complete surveys, consider offering an incentive like a free gift or coupon to complete the survey.
If you’re still finding it challenging to zero in on that ideal persona, working with an experienced, effective branding agency like Quill can streamline the process for you. Because of our experience working with a variety of brands across an array of industries, we're pretty darn good at helping our clients create a unique brand that resonates with their ideal customers.
By understanding your audience's unique characteristics and needs, we can develop a brand persona and promise that speaks directly to them. This helps build brand loyalty and makes marketing your products or services easier to the people most likely to buy them.
Stress test your key features and attributes.
Now that you've done some of the nitty gritty work of discovering the essence of your brand, it's time to see if it holds up. You may feel like you don't need to stress test your branding before fully committing, especially if you've spent a lot of time researching and brainstorming. However, taking the time to do so now can prevent potential issues down the line, and is an important step in creating a successful brand positioning strategy for your business
Stress testing your key ideas, messages, and strategies can help you identify any areas that your competitors could easily claim. If you find that your competitors could claim the same benefits or features, it's important to go back to the drawing board and get more creative with your brand positioning strategy. Ask yourself tough questions such as "Is this really unique?" or "Is this truly valuable to my target audience?"
By stress testing your key features and attributes, you can identify potential weaknesses in your branding and make necessary adjustments before launching your brand to the world.
Create a visual identity.
Whole books could be, and have been, written about creating a visual identity for brands. There's no question that it is a foundational part of creating an impactful brand story. But when it comes to your brand positioning strategy, laying down the foundation comes first. After you've identified differentiators, competitors, and ideal customers and fully stress-tested your key ideas and messages, you can move on to creating a brand identity that aligns with and supports your overall brand position.
When creating that visual identity, work with an experienced creative branding agency with the graphic design and branding chops to take your brand positioning statement into its next phase. Look for an agency with a diverse portfolio of work across industries, showcasing many different styles and types of collateral. By working with a branding studio that has experience working with a wide variety of businesses, you can feel confident that you're partnering with professionals who have a breadth of knowledge and perspective.
Live your brand promise.
One of the most important things to remember (and one that is often forgotten) is that your brand is more than just the differentiators you write down or a logo you put on the letterhead. Your brand is a promise to your customers and should guide every aspect of your business. Living your brand promise involves delivering on your promises consistently, from your product or service offerings to your customer service to your internal company culture. Your brand should be felt across every customer touchpoint and every company operation, and what's more, it should feel authentic.
When you consistently deliver on your brand promise, you build trust and loyalty with your target customers, leading to increased customer retention, positive word-of-mouth referrals, and, ultimately, greater business success. When you build a company culture that delivers on your brand promise, you attract employees who are invested in your business because they have a workplace that aligns with their values and beliefs. This means you're more likely to retain top talent that will help your business continue to grow successfully.
Regularly review your brand strategy.
An effective brand positioning strategy is not set in stone. Yes, at its core, your brand should be built on a solid foundation after rigorous research and creative effort, but regularly reviewing your brand positioning strategy or performing a SWOT analysis will help you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changes in the market.
An annual, bi-annual, or even quarterly review can help identify new trends and opportunities that may indicate a change in approach is necessary. Customer preferences and behaviors can also change over time, so it's important to keep your ideal customer persona up to date and relevant to your current offers as well as the current market.
Finally, your competitors may also change their strategies, which can impact your own positioning and differentiation. By staying aware of your competitive landscape, you can make informed decisions about how to stay ahead of the competition.
Luckily, if you've worked with a creative branding agency like Quill, you've already got a built-in review team. Brand management is one of our key services because we believe that once we put a brand into the world, it should keep working for our clients. By regularly helping you audit your current brand strategy and activation plan, the expert brand strategists at Quill Creative Studio can identify areas that need to be updated or retooled and create new strategies and collateral for future brand initiatives.
Let's talk about your brand positioning strategy.
Developing an effective brand positioning strategy is critical for any business that wants to stand out from the competition and connect with its target audience in more meaningful ways. Developing a brand positioning strategy that truly works requires expertise and experience, which is why working with an experienced creative branding agency like Quill Creative Studio is the best way to ensure that your brand positioning strategy is crafted with care and precision.
If you're ready to take your brand to the next level, let's chat!