Why Brand Positioning is Key to Successful Brand Strategy

The Positional Elements of Brand Strategy Part 1

The Key to Successful Brand Positioning and Why you Need It

Brand positioning is key to successful brand strategy because it drives everything from brand design to the business choices we make around, for example, capability, tools, communication and HR.

The holy grail, whatever your business is to move away from factors that commoditise your business and trap you in a race to the bottom on price. Conversely, differentiation allows you to levy a premium for your offering, whether you sell products, services or a mix of both. This all depends on differentiation and should particularly be focused on businesses operating in a very competitive business terrain, which let’s face it, is a high percentage of many companies. Certainly, in the professional services and home and lifestyle sectors, this is very true.


Why the positional elements of brand strategy are key to successful brand positioning

But what are the things that allow your business and offering to be differentiated? Let’s take a quick step back and consider some core ideas around what constitutes a successful brand strategy and some foundational brand positioning truths.

1) Understanding Brand Imperatives 2) Differentiators may be found outside the offering 3) what brand positioning is 4) why it’s integral to brand strategy, and 5) why your business needs it


1) Brand Imperatives

Brand strategy is based on what we define at Iconify as Brand Imperatives, foundational elements of building a sustainable brand – Purpose, Principles, Perception, Personality, Position, Proposition, Promotion, Promise. These are defined with the purpose of carrying them into the operational, functional and delivery realms of business in an integrated way, to ensure consistency between what your brand stands for and how it operates, so that expectations set by your messaging and promotion can be met through the capability built within your business to do so.


2) Differentiators may be found outside the core offering

What sets you apart does not have to be intrinsically in the offering but may in fact be in methods, delivery or even based on relationship.

Positioning is an imperative of the brand that defines the space within which you believe the sum total of what your brand and business are about can matter. It;s the space where everything that differentiates your business and lends such a slant and pivot to what you offer as to make it difficult to compete with on the terms you set as to what is so special about your brand. People buy feelings and benefits, advantages and emotional crutches; they buy satisfaction and gratification, not just the products and services they buy from you. These are simply a means to the end they ultimately seek.

3) What is Brand Positioning?

Al Ries makes it clear that this positioning is an alchemy that happens in the mind of your customers as a result of the perceptions driven by your business about the benefits people gain from your offering. Your business must be positioned in a favourable ‘space’ relative to your competition where a synthesis of what the customer believes they want, what they need, and how your offering delivers on those.

To do this effectively, you need to KYC – know your customer, which can be done through research and conversation.


Positioning strategy, the Customer and CX

Positioning Strategy is the plan and techniques of defining, ascribing and winning the right position and while it is an integral part of brand strategy, we believe brand strategy encompasses ideas beyond just positioning.

This is because it’s one thing to build the perception, another thing to carve out the position but it’s another thing again to maintain that position sustainably. That must be supported by the capability that references and protects the foundation, meaning and power of that position through how your business operates.


4) How brand positioning is integral to brand strategy

The position can not exist in a vacuum and is not tenable without consistent and excellent customer experiences that encourage your customers to move beyond adoption to advocacy. This is because it’s very possible to become positioned by accident or as a matter of course, which leaves a lot to chance and your business at the mercy of those who can spend significant amounts on ad revenue to rebut the position you hope for. Businesses that hope to become brand must work proactively to identify a position to own and deploy communications and marketing signals to do that in an integrated way.

5) Why you need it

Where the favourable and compelling idea of your business lives in the mind of your customer is where your brand is born. Before this idea is adopted, you are just a business. Once a strong view is formed that will lead to the contemplation of adoption or advocacy, your business becomes a brand. This is brand positioning. This is ‘why’ brand positioning and the necessity to explore the positional elements of brand strategy and the key to successful brand positioning.

You need it because you win by contending in a busy market place as a leader and a remarkable player due to differentiators that can be found in your business through brand strategic tools and techniques.


In the beginning …. or 100 years ago or so

When we think about brands, we think about Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Xerox, Colgate and the like, thousands of brands we are all familiar with, whether we are adopters or not but what these brands have had above all is time. Even Apple, often seen as a Wunderkind has been around for more than four decades. They have had time.

They have also had something else that is truly special. They have had a story.

But there is one other thing that they have all done. They have spent millions building and cementing their position. This means that if you haven’t got 40 – 100 years to establish your brand and billions in ad spend, you really need a positioning strategy; you need the special story and you need to do your utmost to found that position in the minds of your customer. You do that, you are no longer competing on a commoditised basis. Which means recognition and resonance. You will have adopters and advocates. Brand love and loyalty follow and the bottom line, follows this – revenues will increase and keep increasing predictably. That’s the story of brand.

In the Positional Elements of Brand Strategy Part 2, we will look at some more exciting ideas to help determine a positioning strategy

Chinenye Ikwuemesi

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