Positioning is when you endeavor to create a unique impression in the eyes of the customer. You want your brand to have a place in the customer’s mind that makes it different and desirable.
Unlike brand strategy, which only outlines how the brand should behave, positioning focuses on the placement of your brand in the market. Because the market is constantly shifting and changing, a good positioning strategy must incorporate techniques that handle those changes.
Everything in business is constantly changing: the markets, your competitors, your audience, and marketing channels too. Throughout that, you must define your brand’s unique value to the market.
Why position your brand?
It gives you more freedom to experiment within the context of your brand. It means that more than just marketing can create aspects of the customer experience, so long as they fall under the unique position that makes your brand different.
It allows anyone in the company to share their expertise, without fear of being off brand.
To succeed, your brand must be memorable. You can figure out how this is accomplished using a series of tools to map the perceptions of your customers and the market.
Traditional Perceptual Map
A perceptual map is a technique that determines where your brand places in relation to the rest of the market based off two variables. Each of these is placed on the x and y-axis of the graph.
In the above example, the variables are affordability and the number of features. To fill out the graph, these two variables will need to be quantified.
That’s easy with something like price. Easily quantifiable and a good place to start.
As you gather this data about your customers, it will become clear if your customers prefer a higher price with more features or fewer features and a lower price tag.
Perceptual maps can also be used to identify gaps in the market and potential partners. That means seeing how your competition rates against you in the area you are measuring or how they rate against each other.
The perceptual map is great for comparing a couple of different variables, but that’s where its functionality comes to a halt. You can’t account for more than two variables on the traditional maps, giving you a limited picture of the customers.
One solution for this is to create multiple maps or to create the type of map listed below.
Multidimensional Perceptual Maps
Unlike the limited perceptual maps, multidimensional perceptual maps can account for more variables.
This makes them useful tools for marketers who not only want to see how their brand is positioned but also those who need to learn to better segment their audience.
Each axis has a different variable, so instead of simply focusing on a number of features and price, you can add factors like ease of use, whether they prefer a desktop app or a web app, etc.
This gives a more rounded vision of your brand and your customers, instead of just focusing on a couple of different variables.
While the two maps listed above primarily rely on data to create, an intuitive map is used by marketers to map their own understanding of the industry.
You can compare this self-assessment tool to the charts you create using the data from your customers. This allows you to see how you may have perceived the market, compared to how it is.
A One Sentence Summary
Once you’ve created a few of these maps using the data you collect about your customers, try to summarize your brand’s worth to them in just one, singular sentence.
That’s right. You should be able to tell someone your brand’s worth in one line.
This is daunting at first, but once you have this sentence established, you have it to go off every time you make a social post or send out an email. You can also hand this off to freelancers and others in your company who want to contribute to your marketing efforts.
But there’s just one more thing…
Keep It Changing
As mentioned in the beginning, brand positioning is an ever-changing concept. This is even more rapid with technology. Social channels fade in and out of style, as does marketing language.
In your brand positioning strategy, be sure you build in a mechanism for change. Otherwise, your position will be out of date, and therefore doesn’t exist. Set a period after which you check in with your positioning. Maybe it’s twice a year, maybe it’s once every quarter. It depends on your brand and the market.
A position without a market is useless. Don’t get left behind. Find your brand’s place in the market and your efforts will be increasingly more effective.