Brand positioning is the active process of positioning your brand in your customers’ minds. Note the word ‘active’.

Make no mistake, if you don’t actively position your brand, your customers will do it for you—and you’ll run the risk of being sidelined by your competitors.

Your brand, once it hits the marketplace, will take on an almost lifelike persona to your customers. They will think and feel a certain way about it. These thoughts and emotions will influence how they act.

If you haven’t positioned yourself to appeal to your ideal customers’ thoughts and feelings, who exactly is your brand aiming at? Take the proverbial positioning bull by the horns and maximise your marketing potential with a targeted and directed approach.

Brand positioning from your customers’ perspective

“Why are you the best option? What can you offer me that no one else can? How do I know you mean what you say?”

When we make purchasing decisions, we don’t consciously have these thoughts, but the essence of them is what drives us to choose one brand over another. There are literally endless options available to us in today’s market. That’s why it’s so important to clearly illustrate how you will solve the problem your customer is having. If you don’t, they’ll just find someone who does.

However, it’s not just about making your brand stand out. You also have to demonstrate to them that you back up your claims and provide evidence that you follow through on your word. Proving yourself is just as important to your brand positioning as catching their attention in the first place.

Five questions to help you position your brand effectively

What we buy is driven by our thoughts, values and emotions. Most of the time we already know which brand we are going to buy. We’ve already established an emotional connection to that brand driven by how they have positioned themselves in order to appeal to us.

So how do you actively position your brand towards your target market?

A great place to start is to answer these five questions:

  1. From an emotional and a rational perspective, what does your brand offer your customers?
  2. What pain point does your brand help your customers to address?
  3. What results and outcomes can your customers expect?
  4. Who are your products/services for?
  5. Why are you the brand to choose?

Brand position and product positioning are two distinct things

Go into the supermarket cereal aisle and there are rows upon rows of cereal boxes. On the front of each box you’ll see numerous statements such as high fibre, low fat, no added sugar, organic… the list is endless. While this is partly brand positioning, as it’s targeting particular niches in the market, it’s mostly product positioning. These statements are focused on the attributes of the product that are going to appeal to a consumer’s preferences and desires. Brand positioning, on the other hand, will tap into a deeper emotional connection.

Let’s look at fashion as an example. In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about the social and environmental impact of fast fashion. Clothes are often made by exploited garment workers who are expected to work under appalling conditions. There are also growing concerns about the sustainability of the fashion industry with its depletion of non-renewable resources and generation of excessive waste.

If these issues are important to someone, they may boycott brands who don’t address their concerns. As a fashion brand, if you went against the grain of the industry and didn’t produce ‘fast’ fashion, you would benefit from positioning yourself in this way. Essentially, you’re connecting with your customer’s values and belief systems to build a strong emotional connection.

Get into your customer’s shoes

Tune into the head and heart of your customers. What do they care about? What motivates them? What problems are they looking for solutions to solve? For themselves yes, but also for the other things they care about beyond their immediate needs. You want to pre-empt their rationale by directly addressing what they think, want and feel.

But, don’t forget, you also have to show them that you mean what you say. What are you doing to address those things that they care about? Harness these elements to position your brand and watch the impact that it has on your marketing efforts.