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Crafting a Distinctive Brand Narrative

How to build brand positioning that works: what you need to know 

Brand positioning isn’t just a buzzword to be thrown around in marketing meetings; it’s the compass that guides every decision your brand makes in the marketplace. It’s the narrative that tells not just who you are, but why you matter. Whether you are launching a new brand or reinvigorating an established one, a solid brand positioning strategy is your ticket to resonating with your audience and carving a unique identity amidst a sea of competitors.

Without a clear and compelling brand position, crafting marketing messages that highlight your brand's uniqueness in its product category becomes challenging.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the essence of brand positioning, unravel a structured 7-step process to build a robust brand positioning strategy and explore real-world examples that bring the concept to life. 

This article is your roadmap to building a brand that’s not just recognized, but revered. You'll embark on a journey to elevate your brand from being just a name to becoming a narrative that your audience identifies with. Your path to creating a brand that not only stands out but stands the test of time begins here.

Note: If you're looking to reposition your brand in a way that resonates and engages, our expert team is here to guide you.

With a legacy of partnering with world-renowned brands like Porsche, Cartier, and Formula 1, we bring a wealth of experience to the table. Schedule a free brand discovery call with us today

Why is brand positioning important?

Brand positioning is the cornerstone of a successful brand strategy. It's about sharing a brand's values and carving a unique identity in the market landscape. This ensures that the brand resonates with the right audience.

It is about aligning the brand's values, capabilities, and the unique benefits it offers with the expectations and needs of consumers. It's the narrative that sets a brand apart from the competition, creating a distinctive image in the minds of consumers.

Brand positioning is a blend of art and science, balancing functional benefits with emotional resonance. It's about going beyond the functional advantages to touch the lives of consumers, making a difference that's both meaningful and memorable. Effective brand positioning enhances a brand's appeal and positively impacts purchase decisions, laying a solid foundation for long-term brand equity. 

It ensures the brand remains relevant and continues to thrive amidst evolving market dynamics and consumer preferences. Through a successful brand positioning strategy, brands can foster a strong, enduring relationship with their audience, ensuring a consistent and compelling brand experience across all touch points.

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7-Step brand positioning framework process

Here, we'll cover how you can create a strong brand positioning strategy. Through this structured 7-step process, brands can use to craft and refine their positioning, setting a solid foundation for enduring market relevance and consumer loyalty.

There are 7 key steps to effectively clarify your positioning in the marketplace:

#1: Determine how your brand is currently positioning itself

In order to create a brand positioning strategy, you must first identify your brand’s uniqueness and determine what differentiates you from your competition.

Embarking on this introspective journey requires addressing a set of core questions that delve into the essence of your brand and its standing in the market. Here are the questions to guide you through this process:

What does your company stand for? Reflect on the core values and principles that underpin your brand.

What makes you valuable? Identify the unique benefits and advantages your brand brings to the table.

Who are your contenders? Recognize the other players in your market and understand their positioning.

What makes you different? Discover the unique attributes that set your brand apart from the competition.

Who needs your product? Define your target audience and understand their needs and preferences.

What is your market category? Determine the segment of the market your brand operates in.

What are the consequences of not having your product? Reflect on the problems or challenges your product solves and what would happen in its absence.

By addressing these questions, you'll gain a clearer perspective on how your brand is currently positioned in the market.

This understanding is instrumental as it lays the foundation upon which you can build a compelling, differentiated and effective brand positioning strategy, ensuring your brand resonates well with your target audience and stands out in the competitive market landscape.

#2: Identify your direct competitors

Identifying your direct competitors is a crucial step in honing your own brand positioning strategy. Begin by creating a list of competitors who are operating within your market domain and offering similar products or services. You can utilise various methods to compile this list: online market research, industry reports, customer feedback, or even observing who your competitors target in their marketing campaigns.

Industry forums, trade shows, and professional networks can be valuable resources in identifying key players in your market. By compiling a list of your direct competitors, you set a solid foundation for the subsequent steps in the brand positioning process, enabling a more informed and strategic approach as you work to carve out your unique space in the market landscape.

Online tools such as Google's Keyword Planner or SEMrush can provide insights into competitors based on keywords related to your industry.

Identifying competitors using online tools

Google Keyword Planner is primarily a tool designed for keyword research to aid in planning Google Ads campaigns, but it can also be leveraged to discover competitors. Here's how:

Keyword Search: Start by entering keywords related to your products or services into the tool. Google Keyword Planner will provide a list of related keywords along with data on search volume and competition level.

Ad Impression Share: If you have a Google Ads account with active campaigns, you can check the ad impression share to see which other brands are also bidding on the same keywords as you are. This can give you an idea of who your direct competitors might be.

Top of Page Bid: The tool provides information on the "Top of Page Bid" which is an estimate of what advertisers have historically paid for a keyword’s top of page bid. By analyzing the bids, you can gauge the level of competition and possibly identify competitors who are willing to pay a higher amount for the same keywords.

Analyze Ad Copies: Although not a direct feature of the Keyword Planner, you can use the keywords you've identified to perform Google searches and analyze the ad copies that appear at the top of the search results. Look for recurring brand names in these ads, as they are likely your direct competitors.

Domain Search: You can use the keywords to perform a domain search on other SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to identify competitors. For more direct competitor analysis, you might want to explore SEO tools which provide more comprehensive competitor identification features.

#3: Understand how each competitor is positioning their brand

Having identified your direct competitors, the next step is to delve into understanding how each one is positioning their brand. Start by analysing their marketing messages, the values they emphasise, and the unique selling propositions (USPs) they promote.

Look into their advertising campaigns, website content, social media platforms, and customer reviews to gauge the narrative they are crafting.

What emotions do they evoke?

What promises do they make to their customers?

Who are they targeting?

Understanding the positioning of your competitors is not about imitation, but about finding a unique angle that sets your brand apart. It's about identifying gaps or opportunities in the market that your brand can leverage to create a distinctive positioning.

This analysis will also help in understanding the competitive landscape better, enabling you to craft a brand positioning strategy that resonates well with your target audience while differentiating you from the competition.

Here are some common brand positioning strategies that companies often employ to carve a unique identity in the market:

Cost positioning (or price positioning):

In cost positioning, a brand positions itself as the most affordable option in the market. This strategy is often employed by brands that offer products or services at a lower price than their competitors. Walmart and Costco are classic examples of brands that have successfully employed cost positioning.

Niche positioning:

Niche positioning involves targeting a specific, often underserved, segment of the market. Brands employing this strategy focus on meeting the unique needs of this segment better than anyone else. This strategy can lead to strong brand loyalty even if the market segment is small. A brand like Tesla initially employed niche positioning by targeting the high-end segment of the electric car market.

Quality positioning:

Quality positioning is about showcasing superior quality or premium features of a brand's offerings. Brands employing this strategy often have products or services that are superior in quality, performance, or durability and are at a higher price point to reflect this quality. Apple is a well-known example of a luxury brand that employs quality positioning.

One of the primary facets of Apple's quality positioning is its unwavering commitment to design excellence and innovation. Each product, from iPhones to MacBooks, is crafted with a sleek, modern design and equipped with cutting-edge technology. The brand's attention to detail and aesthetic appeal set a high standard in the industry, making it a benchmark for quality and design.

Value positioning:

Value positioning is a blend of cost and quality positioning. Brands employing this strategy offer high-quality products at a reasonable price, providing great value for money to their customers. Trader Joe’s is an example of a brand that employs value positioning. By offering a curated selection of goods, many under its own private label, Trader Joe’s ensures a level of quality and uniqueness while maintaining affordable prices.

Benefit positioning:

Benefit positioning focuses on the unique benefits that the brand’s products or services offer. This strategy is about solving a problem or fulfilling a need better than competitors. Dove, for instance, positions itself as a brand that nurtures and moisturises the skin, unlike regular soap.

Unlike regular soap that can dry out the skin, Dove's products are formulated to retain skin's moisture, making them gentle and nourishing. This clear benefit of moisturisation and gentle care has been the cornerstone of Dove's positioning strategy.

Competitor-based positioning:

In this strategy, brands position themselves in direct opposition to a competitor or a group of competitors, highlighting their unique advantages over them. A classic example is the Pepsi vs Coke rivalry, where each brand positions itself against the other.

Problem-solution positioning:

This strategy involves positioning the brand as the best solution to a particular problem faced by consumers. It's about understanding a pain point and positioning the brand as the solution to that problem.  A prime example of this strategy is manifested by Miele, a high-end manufacturer of domestic appliances and commercial equipment.

The problem Miele identified is the challenge many consumers face with appliances that have a short lifespan, require frequent repairs, or fail to deliver consistent performance. In a market flooded with disposable appliances, consumers were yearning for reliable, durable, and high-performing products.

Miele positioned itself as the solution to this problem by emphasising the superior quality, durability, and performance of its appliances. 

Lifestyle positioning:

Lifestyle positioning is about aligning the brand with a particular lifestyle or set of values. Brands employing this strategy often target consumers whose lifestyle or values resonate with the brand's message. For example, Patagonia positions itself around the lifestyle of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental sustainability.

#4: Compare your positioning to your competitors to identify your uniqueness

In the quest for a compelling brand positioning, understanding how your brand stacks up against competitors is crucial. Comparing your positioning with that of your competitors helps in identifying the unique attributes that set your brand apart. Start by analysing the key elements of your competitors' positioning such as their value proposition, target audience, pricing strategy, and the benefits they emphasise.

Juxtapose these elements with your brand's positioning to discern the differences.

Are you offering a unique benefit, targeting a different audience, or providing better value for money? This comparative analysis will unveil the unique aspects of your brand that can be leveraged to create a distinctive positioning in the market.

It's about finding that unique angle or value your brand brings to the table, which others don't. This exercise not only helps in understanding the competitive landscape better but also in crafting a brand positioning statement that underscores your brand's uniqueness, ensuring it resonates well with your target audience and stands out in the crowded market landscape.

Brand positioning map

positioning map


A brand positioning map is an invaluable tool that visually illustrates how your brand is perceived in relation to competitors in the market. Creating a brand positioning map involves several steps that provide a clear comparative perspective. Here’s how to go about it:

Identify dimensions: Choose two dimensions that are important to your target audience. Common dimensions include price, quality, luxury, functionality, or innovation.

Plot competitors: Based on research or customer perceptions, plot where your competitors stand on these two dimensions. This could be done through market research, customer surveys, or analysing customer reviews.

Plot your brand: Similarly, plot where your brand stands on these dimensions. This will give you a visual representation of how your brand compares to competitors.

Analyse gaps and overlaps: Look for areas on the map where there’s less competition (gaps) or where many brands are clustered together (overlaps).

Identify your uniqueness: Determine what sets your brand apart. Are you the only high-quality, reasonably priced option? Or perhaps the most innovative?

Consider repositioning: If your brand is clustered with others, consider whether a repositioning strategy could move you into a less crowded space on the map.

Iterate and evolve: As market dynamics change, regularly update your brand positioning map to reflect shifts in competitor positioning and customer preferences.

#5: Develop a distinct and value-based positioning idea

Developing a distinct and value-based positioning idea is a pivotal step in the brand positioning process. This phase entails crafting a unique positioning statement that encapsulates the unique value your brand offers, which sets it apart from competitors.

Start by synthesising the insights gleaned from your analysis of the competitive landscape, customer preferences, and the unique benefits your brand provides. Your positioning idea should resonate with your target audience's needs and desires, while also reflecting the core values and strengths of your brand. It's about articulating a clear, compelling idea that communicates the unique benefits and value your brand delivers.

For instance, if your brand offers high-quality, eco-friendly products at a competitive price, your positioning idea could revolve around providing sustainable, value-for-money solutions. This positioning idea should be succinct, memorable, and easily communicable, forming the foundation upon which your brand messaging, marketing strategies, and customer interactions will be built. It's a strategic endeavour that requires a deep understanding of your market, your competitors, and most importantly, your brand's positioning statement is a unique value proposition.

#6: Craft a new brand positioning statement 

Crafting a new brand positioning statement is a crucial step that encapsulates your brand's unique value proposition, target audience, and the benefits you offer. This statement should be a succinct and compelling expression of how your brand fills a particular need in a way that competitors do not. Begin by clearly defining your target audience, the unique benefits your brand provides, and the domain in which you operate. For instance, a positioning statement could be structured as follows:

"For [target audience], [Brand] is the [description of your brand] that delivers [unique benefit] unlike [competitor]."

It's essential that this statement is easy to understand, believable, and unique to your brand. It should resonate with the values and interests of your target audience while distinguishing your brand from competitors in the market. This positioning statement will guide all future marketing communications and brand strategies, ensuring a consistent and compelling brand message that aligns with your brand positioning idea.

A good example of a strong brand positioning statement

Here's a brand positioning statement example for Tesla:

"For forward-thinking individuals seeking to reduce their carbon footprint, Tesla is the pioneering electric vehicle and clean energy brand that delivers unparalleled performance, innovative technology, and sustainable solutions, unlike traditional automotive and energy companies. Our cutting-edge electric vehicles, solar products, and energy storage solutions not only redefine what's possible in the realm of green technology but also empower individuals to actively participate in the global shift towards a sustainable future."

In this statement:

• The target audience is identified as "forward-thinking individuals seeking to reduce their carbon footprint."

• Tesla is positioned as a "pioneering electric vehicle and clean energy brand."

• The unique benefits offered are "unparalleled performance, innovative technology, and sustainable solutions."

• The statement differentiates Tesla from "traditional automotive and energy companies" by emphasising its "cutting-edge electric vehicles, solar products, and energy storage solutions."

This brand positioning statement encapsulates Tesla's unique value proposition, aligns with the values and aspirations of the target audience, and sets Tesla apart from competitors in both the automotive and energy sectors.

Bad example of a brand positioning statement

Here's a poorly crafted brand positioning statement for Coca-Cola:

"For people who drink liquids, Coke is a brown fizzy drink that has bubbles and comes in a can or bottle, unlike other liquid substances that might not be brown or fizzy."

In this statement:

• The target audience is vaguely and broadly defined as "people who drink liquids," which is not insightful or targeted.

• The description of Coke as a "brown fizzy drink" is uninspiring and does not capture the essence or the unique attributes of the brand.

• The comparison to "other liquid substances" is too broad and does not provide a meaningful differentiation.

• There's no mention of any unique benefits, emotional connection, or the iconic brand legacy that Coca-Cola holds.

This statement lacks clarity, uniqueness, and fails to evoke any emotional resonance or meaningful differentiation, making it a bad example of a brand positioning statement.

#7: Implementing your brand positioning strategy

The implementation phase is where your well-crafted brand positioning statement gets translated into tangible actions across all brand touchpoints. This stage involves aligning your marketing strategies, communication channels, product development, and customer interactions with the positioning you've defined. It's about consistently communicating your brand's unique value proposition through every interaction with your audience.

For instance, if your brand positioning revolves around superior customer service, ensure that this is reflected in your training programs, customer service protocols, and communication platforms. Similarly, if innovation is a key aspect of your positioning, it should be evident in your product development, marketing campaigns, and digital presence. The goal is to create a cohesive and consistent brand experience that resonates with your positioning statement.

It's crucial to ensure that all stakeholders, from employees to partners, understand and embody your brand positioning in their actions and communications. Moreover, measuring the impact of your positioning through customer feedback, market share analysis, and brand perception studies is essential to assess the effectiveness of your implementation and make necessary adjustments. This iterative process of implementation, measurement, and refinement is vital for maintaining a strong and relevant brand positioning in a dynamic market landscape.

Navigating towards a resonating brand narrative

The 7-step process outlined in this guide provides a structured pathway to explore and articulate what makes your brand unique in a crowded marketplace. As you venture into implementing this strategy, consistency across all brand touchpoints is crucial. Each interaction, message, and campaign contributes to shaping the perception of your brand.

By meticulously aligning these elements with your brand positioning, you're not only enhancing visibility but fostering a connection with your audience that's authentic and meaningful.

This article is written by Alex & Brandon of ikon | We are a boutique branding & creative agency – but not in the traditional sense. We hand-pick a team from our experienced creatives to suit each project, delivering a personal and bespoke service. Alex is always the lead contact every step of the way and our clients include the likes of Cartier, Westfield, Porsche, & F1.

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