In a crowded market place, it is critical to differentiate your brand and make sure you understand how you can position your brand in the right way to attract the right kind of customers, conversions and ultimately larger market share. Brand positioning is a critical element of your business success and requires some careful thought and attention.
In this post, I will outline some fundamentals of brand positioning and a few tips on how to formulate your own brand positioning statement.
But why brand positioning?
When you are competing in a crowded market place – and these days it is almost every market segment – if you move forward blindly without a proper strategy in place, you may end up leaving money on the table or worse, have a business failure on your hands. To create the right impact on your target market’s psyche, you need to figure out a way to dictate the perceptions of your ideal customers. This alignment of perceptions and creating the connection in the minds of your customers is brand positioning.
Establishing the right perception that aligns with your customer’s world view is brand positioning. This starts with a deep understanding of your target market is and then identifying how to best to communicate to this audience and connect with them both at the rational and more importantly on an emotional level.
Positioning is all about the emotional connection that you can form with your ideal customers. How do you appeal to their sensibilities and ensure that they think of your brand when it comes time to chose. This is also called top of mind strategy.
Here are a few examples that will help you understand how brands position themselves. I talk about both the winners and losers in a few market verticals.
The Automobile Market
When it comes cars, what is the difference between a Toyota and a Lexus? One is positioned as the affordable car and the other is positioned as a luxury item. What about Volvo? They chose to position themselves as the safest cars! BMW positioned as superb engineering and performance while Audi is all about sexiness.
Mercedes-Benz on the other hand has struggled with it’s positioning in the last few years and hence it’s market share has been eroded. While it started out as a luxury brand, over the years bad brand management and leadership meant Mercedes tried to enter the low end of the market and ended up diluting it’s positioning. Today it is not sure what it’s positioning is.
The Airline Industry
Virgin has the strongest brand positioning in the airline industry at the moment. They get it. It is no wonder other airlines have been playing with loss of public trust and toying with bankruptcy all these years. Richard Branson, with his personal branding and charisma has truly created a world class airlines. On the same vein Emirates Airlines have been thought of as the most valuable airline in the world. Emirates is all about luxury and they position themselves appropriately.
What about Delta Airlines? Don’t get me started. All I can say is that they have positioned themselves as the most irritating and hassle-full airlines. At least that is how the public perception is, if the tons of feedback on social media is any indication. Over in Europe, you have the low-cost airlines such as RyanAir or EasyJet who enjoy a lot of negative publicity because of their tricky positioning targeting the lowest end of the market and then doing things to push their profits – which do not go well together and are bound to make customers unhappy!
The Fashion World
The fashion world is full of positioning exercises. In fact positioning your fashion or clothing line is quite critical because of the highly competitive nature of the industry as well as the highly fickle mentalities of the audience. So positioning through brand storytelling is the key.
Dunhill for example gained market share by creating and advertising a fantasy lifestyle. Dunhill created for itself an image of the “quintessentially British male” by making its name synonymous with the newly embraced automobile (Tungate, 2011, 509). Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger on the hand neither of them sketched, sewed, or actually designed any original clothes. They were,
instead, the “haute couturiers of marketing,” and exemplified the way fashion in America had changed (Agins, 1999, 82).
Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 is an excellent example of “heritage positioning“. The essence of American style, Brooks Brothers is a legendary brand that prides itself on its guiding principles, outlined in its mission statement, “to make and deal only in merchandise of the finest quality; to sell it at a fair profit and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise” (Hogan, 2011; Palmieri, 2011).
There are tons of examples of failed fashion brands that could not position themselves correctly or were too cute for their own good. Even celebrity brands fail and I will list some here so you can understand how important positioning is. These celebrities had tons of money to throw at their brands but money is not the solution.
“Dollhouse” by Paris Hilton, “Miley Cyrus and Max Azria for Walmart” by Miley Cyrus (SOURCE), “Mblem” by Mandy Moore, “6126” by Lindsay Lohan, “Bitten” by Sarah Jessica Parker (makes me cringe!), “Pastelle” by Kanye West and more.
To be honest I could go on and on giving examples in every industry and market segment but that would not be practical for this article. I will try and update the sections and improve upon it so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back.