Why should I choose you? What makes you so special? Why should I care about you? You say you’re the best option on the block? Prove it to me.” These are the thoughts of your customer.
Brand positioning is defined as the territory you occupy in your customers’ mind relative to your competitors and whether those customers believe you’re the best option to meet their needs. How can your company address your prospective customers’ desired outcomes in a way that no one else can?
You won’t find positioning statements on a package, website, or store shelf. Rather, it’s an internal exercise that drives all the key decisions in an organization. It defines what you say, where you say it, how you say it, and who you say it to. It guides what you produce and how you market and sell it. Effective brand positioning relies on competitive research and analysis, consumer insights, and an honest evaluation of where your business stands and fits in the marketplace.
Your customers are at the center of the process.
We live in a time of unlimited choice. Whereas we used to have a few options to choose from, suddenly we’re overwhelmed with seemingly endless possibilities. It also doesn’t help that we’re bombarded with over 10,000 marketing messages a day. Brands face the challenge of rising above the din and proving their worth. Once a brand has captured the audience’s interest, they want to know immediately that it can substantiate its claims. If not, they’re going to move along—and it can take a lot of effort and marketing to get them back.
Let’s play out the choice and proposition game in an example. Let’s say I go to the supermarket to buy brownie mix because it’s been that kind of day, and I’m standing in the baking aisle, dumbfounded. Rows of brownie mix boxes all seem to shout: Buy me! I’m chewier than that guy next to me! I require fewer ingredients! I’m organic! I’m paleo! My box is biodegradable! My mix includes real chocolate chips! Kim Kardashian once ate me!
Suddenly, I’ve become Ellen Burstyn fleeing a growling refrigerator in Requiem for a Dream.
Brands have to do more than shout from the rafters why they’re special. They have to establish an emotional connection with their customers, backed by practical and unique selling points before the customers have even set foot in the store. When I’m in the baking aisle, I already know whether I’m grabbing Duncan Hines or Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free mix because of the five key questions: 1) What does the brand do for customers from a rational and emotional perspective? 2) What pain point or problem does the brand solve? 3) Why is this the brand to solve these problems? 4) Who does the brand make these products for? 5) What outcomes or results will customers experience as a result of buying this brand?
Your brand has to be more than a box of brownie mix on a shelf that momentarily captures passing interest. Brownie mix is a product that has tangible, practical attributes, but a brand conveys both emotional and practical characteristics. A brand has to establish an image, personality, and reputation before a customer buys into the physical manifestation of it, i.e., the products. I opted for the organic brownie mix instead of the commercial version because the organic brand tapped into what I value and expressed it in the products it produces.