A Simple Guide to Writing an Effective Brand Positioning Statement

When it comes to business strategy, many companies tend to be reactive, rather than proactive. Managers of all sorts are quick to deviate from the strategic plan for short-term gains, rather than staying the course and pursuing initiatives that match the brand’s strategic objectives.

Writing a compelling brand positioning statement is often the solution to the internal strategic struggles every company faces to some extent.

Brand Positioning Versus Brand Positioning Statement

Before we dive deeper into how to write a brand positioning statement it is important to understand the distinction between brand positioning and brand positioning statement.

Brand positioning is the “mental angle” your brand owns in the marketplace. It is what your brand is known for, which might be different from what you wished for.

Brand positioning is greatly influenced by external factors such consumers’ direct interactions, feedback from friends, or the stuff they read on the internet.

A strong brand positioning can be summarized in a few words:

Google=search

Trivago=hotel search

Southwest Airlines=low-cost air travel

Brand positioning statement serves as an internal guide that illustrates, in a paragraph or two, how your brand wants to be perceived in the marketplace. Its purpose is to summarize what the brand is all about to the company employees and outside partners, and serve as foundation for every marketing decision.

Brand positioning is what you are. The brand positioning statement is want you want to be.

How to Write A Branding Positioning Statement

An effective brand positioning statement (sometimes called “mission statement”) includes your target audience, the brand’s differentiation point(s), frame of reference, and elements that support your differentiation claim. Here is the template suggested by Cornell University:

For [insert Target Market], the [insert Brand] is the [insert Point of Differentiation] among all [insert Frame of Reference] because [insert Reason to Believe].

Let’s explore the four elements in more detail.

The brand’s target audience consists of all market segments that benefit from it. If your brand is sold through intermediaries, such as distributors, dealers, affiliates, then the brand positioning statement has to be relevant to them as well.

Brand differentiation explains how your brand differs from the competition. Some experts recommend making the brand promise part of the BPS. My preference is to explain how the brand is different, rather than listing a promise any other brand can make.

The frame of reference defines the category your brand competes in. This is a very powerful tool as it can help position your brand as a number one brand in a new category, rather than a new entrant into an established one. More on establishing your brand’s frame of reference in another article.

The arguments that support your brand claim are pretty straightforward. Any brand has to provide compelling and credible reasons why its target customers should believe in it.

Can a Brand Have More Than One Brand Positioning Statement?

A brand that targets multiple market segments needs to have a brand positioning statements for each.

Let’s think of the brand positioning statements for a company that markets Eco-friendly household cleaning products through a network of specialized distributors. Here are two possible BPS suggestions for the two segments:

BPS for Distributors:

For our distribution partners, [The brand] is the source of higher profits, by providing the most attractive partner discounts and eye-catching point-of-sale displays that will help move product and increase distributor revenue.

BPS For Consumers

For those who believe in the need to protect our environment, the brand is the number choice for Eco-friendly cleaning products because of its low price and immediate availability.

One brand, two distinctive segments and needs, two positioning statements.

Writing and Effective Positioning Statement: a 4-Point Checklist

It’s about the brand, not the product. Focusing on what makes a product different might be a short-lived statement, as products evolve, change or become obsolete. Additionally, a brand might expand beyond one product category, which will make the current BPS obsolete. A BPS should always allow room for growth.

It’s specific, yet comprehensive. An effective BPS is explicit, thus eliminating confusion. Its purpose is to be relevant to all departments, not only Sales and Marketing. You also want to avoid using clichés such as “we want to be the best at what we do”, or “we offer superior service”.

It’s consumer-focused.  Instead of focusing on what you can do well as a company, focus on the unique benefit your brand provides to consumers.

It provides motivation, focus and direction. This is probably the number one benefit of having a brand positioning statement: allowing the company to focus on what’s important, and discount the rest.

An effective brand positioning statement should bring everybody inside the organization on the same page and pulling in the same direction.

I will leave with two examples from an established brand (IKEA) and a relatively new market entrant (WARBY PARKER) that I hope will inspire you:

IKEA:

At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

WARBY PARKER:

Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

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