As one of the pillars of the “Four P’s” – positioning, product, placement, and price – your brand positioning statement serves as a fundamental part of your go-to market strategy. Before you decide what new features your product needs, what stores you want to sell in, and how much you want to charge, you need to clearly define your product position.
So let’s get started. If your unique value proposition, or UVP, is why your customers should care about you, then your brand positioning statement is the internal equivalents of what you and your team are trying to accomplish. Your brand positioning statement explains the who and why you believe you’re going to be successful so you can tailor each and every one of your marketing efforts accordingly.
Before writing your brand positioning statement, ask yourself the following for questions. To help guide you through this exercise, we’ll use Zipcar as an example.
1. Who is your target audience?
No matter what industry you’re in, start with a customer-centric mindset. Ask yourself who your target audience is, what their pain points are, and what they care about most. Answering these questions will allow you to drill into your target audience’s psyche and understand where your product fits into the consumer landscape. Knowing who you are trying to help and what you’re trying to solve for them will inform almost every other decision you make about your product’s brand positioning.
Example: Zipcar’s audience are urban, tech-savvy commuters. They are usually between the ages of 30 – 50 and fall in the middle- to upper-class socioeconomic brackets. They care about reliable transportation, and may struggle to find reliable public transportation in cities without developed bus or metro systems, or heavy traffic congestion and limited parking.
2. Competitive combat vs. niche interest?
To position your product for your audience, you also need to know whether you’ll be trying to break through your competition’s marketing clutter (in which case, you would be focusing on product differentiators and price points) or whether your product is a niche interest (meaning you’d focus on unique product placement and market education efforts). Do some research about what products fall into your direct competitive and indirect competitive set. Take time to learn about their go-to market strategy and where your target audience overlaps or stands out.
Example: Zipcar was one of the first arrivals to the car-sharing market, but have since been joined by direct competition such as Car2Go and indirect competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Knowing that Zipcar was one of the original market leaders gives them a unique value statement when positioning their brand as a thought leader and experienced service provider.
3. What’s your category and market context?
If you’re redefining or crafting your brand positioning statement for the first time, consider what your share of the industry wallet is. Is your product category new and growing rapidly, or mature and stable? Are people already familiar with products like yours or will you need to spend time educating the market? Are you trying to redefine yourself within a product segment? Is your market necessary (think: toothpaste, food, and gasoline) or elective (think: luxury items, gadgets, and travel).
Example: Positioning your product in a mature market, such as the public transit sector, requires a different mindset than pioneering a new way to commute. Zipcar, and the car-sharing market, is a new category that complements the emerging crowdsourcing craze. The market is growing and Zipcar is a market leader. When positioning their brand, Zipcar will want to focus on maintaining their current customer base while educating new entrants into the crowdsourcing craze about their unique option and value proposition.
4. Why does your product matter?
If you’ve answered the last four questions, you’ll probably have a good idea about why your product matters. This fundamental question is your customers’ – and your – reason to believe in your product. It ties together any remaining value statements or “perks” associated with your product and allows you to write a stellar brand positioning statement that will guide your marketing strategy and product development roadmap.
Example: The finished product for Zipcar reads as follows: “To urban-dwelling, educated techno-savvy consumers, when you use Zipcar car-sharing service instead of owning a car, you save money while reducing your carbon footprint.” This statement clearly explains who needs the product, provides a snapshot into the market context, and tacks on a reason to believe in the product itself.
You may not be able to pack every detail from the four positioning questions into your brand positioning statement, but the essence of your own finished product should explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it will transform the market.
For more inspiration on how to elevate your brand positioning, read about our work and how we’ve helped brands like yours build their brand positioning statement.