What to do when you want your brand to be the one

6 steps to creating a differentiating position for your brand
  1. Survey your competitors

Visit the sites of all main competitors for each of your major markets. Look at their messaging and try to reverse engineer what each one’s position is. Write down their position and make a note if you feel the position has or is likely to gain any traction in the market.

2. Develop a hypothesis

You don’t create positions so much as you anticipate and occupy them. Start by looking at the positions occupied by your competitors in each major market. Have they missed any? Are there any unclaimed positions within the category that would be relevant to both your value proposition and your target segment? Make a list of possible positions for each major market you serve and see how they fit. Arrive at a short list of two or three for each major market that are defendable and feel right for your brand. It’s fine if the position is the same in every market, but you should not set out to make it that way from the start. Brands are positioned in relation to your target’s beliefs and perceptions, along with the other options available to them. These are typically different from one country to the next, therefore, a brand’s position is often different from country to country.

3. Talk to your target

You should now have a list of several possible positions that highlight not only your value propositions, but also your entire brand offer. You also have a list of what you think are your competitors’ positions in each market. Time to put both to the test with a third party who can investigate your target to:

  1. Confirm the category and who prospects perceive as the major players in that category.
  2. Describe how prospects distinguish / position the various brands in their own words.
  3. Describe how prospects distinguish / position your brand in their own words.
  4. Arrive at a description prospects feel best distinguishes your brand.
  5. Assess and discuss the appeal of your list of potential positions.
  6. Assess and discuss the believability of your list of potential positions.

4. Define your position

The results of the target interviews should have provided insight into what positions are relevant to your target. Your own assessment should have indicated what areas you can excel in. Combine these to define your position in plain terms. Remember, this is a strategy statement, not a tagline or headline. Like other strategy statements, your desired position will never be seen by the outside world. Your priority is clarity and accuracy, so don’t try to make it fancy. To ensure a good fit with your value proposition, you can try to write your position as an extension of it, using the template below. However, if you find the template too restrictive, simply use in your own words.

For (your brand’s broad target market) who (statement of main problem you address) (your brand name) excels at (statement of main solution you provide) because(primary support). Like (three leading competitors), we (main point of parity). But unlike them, we (main point of differentiation). Therefore, in/for (specify market segment), we would argue that we are the only (position name) brand in the category.

5. Support your position

Next, for each market’s position, list all the proof you have that directly supports your position. Prioritize the points that your target in that market indicated would be most convincing. These will be used to communicate the position in a believable manner.

6. Communicate your position

Positions are built on communication. Brands communicate in thousands of different ways, from the advertising and packaging to customer service and pricing plans to the way corporate offices are decorated. Your position should form the backdrop against which all your communication takes place. It should define your tone and manner and be developed into a communication theme that frames all your communication and your relationship with the market. It should be reinforced with the way you communicate and interact with your online audience. It should also be reflected in the way you choose to profile your brand.

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