by Kelly Hobkirk
Brand Positioning is one of the most misunderstood aspects of brand development. The purpose of a brand positioning statement, surprisingly, is not about staking a claim of the position you wish to occupy in your chosen market. That approach misguides people because where you aspire to be is generally not where you are, setting up the basis for failure when you could instead set a foundation for success.
A strong brand position states an accurate and succinct position of where you stand in the market. It is where you are now or where you intend to be based on real world aspects of your business today.
The problems with many positioning statements range from boastful ambition, to lack of realism, and inflexibility. Not coincidentally, the key to a strong positioning statement is balancing ambition with realism, and keeping a healthy degree of flexibility.
As your business changes, grows, innovates, and reaches a new position, you can update your positioning statement. That’s one reason flexibility is so important. Another reason is simply because you don’t know what you don’t know. A peer may somehow gain a stronger foothold or out-innovate you.
An out of balance brand positioning statement sets you up to fail because it gives people a false sense of who the company is and what it is achieving. It also misinforms key personnel, the brand itself, and marketing elements such as customer service, strategy, messaging, and advertising.
In order to craft a strong brand position statement, you need to have done your homework. You have to know more than just what you are doing. You need to know what the market wants and what the market already has. Moreover, you need to understand the importance of clearly defining your brand in writing right from the outset.
Your brand positioning statement needs to go well beyond stating the basics of who you are. A good statement is brief and concise so that it is actionable and achievable, yet it must be realistic.
A strong brand positioning statement uses inspiring terminology, yet the phraseology must also appeal directly to your target market because one constantly informs the other. You must consider words that might offend the sensibilities or sensitivities of your market. For instance, you would not use the term ‘earth-shattering’ if you are an environmental group. Focusing on inspiring words will—guess what—inspire people to share your vision and spread your word.