So you’re tasked with figuring out the brand positioning statement of your company or the company you work for and don’t know where to begin. Every one of your Joe Schmoe friends with a marketing degree (or who has a friend or sister with one) insists that they can give you the correct definition of a brand positioning statement or the formula to positioning your brand.
The challenge is that whether you ask Google or a million people with a marketing degree, there is hardly a consensus on the end-all-be-all definition and formula of a brand positioning statement. So I’m here to finally break the tie and give it to you. Just kidding. I’m going to let a company called Digital Marketer do that. Why? Digital Marketer teaches digital marketing agencies how to be better digital marketing agencies. They’ve generated millions of dollars each month from their own internal brands and share how they do it plus their data trends with other marketers.
So what’s their formula for a brand positioning statement? It’s pretty simple. (Product Name) enables (customer) to experience (what). The execution of this formula, however, is not simple. Trying to condense everything that’s good and unique about your company into this one statement may feel contrived and impossible. But it’s not impossible. And it’s a very powerful statement if A.) you do the leg work to get you there and B.) if your company actually uses this statement to power everything they do.
So what’s the leg work?
First. Determine your Customer Avatar (“My what?”). Your Customer Avatar is a made-up character of true attributes of your customers. For this character, you’ll want to assign “demographic” attributes such as job title, gender, education level, salary, family status, blogs frequented, favorite books/magazines, etc. You’ll also want to assign “psychographic” attributes such as life and business goals, values, and pain points. Though you won’t be including all of this info in your brand positioning statement, you will be including the name of your Customer Avatar, such as Real Estate Ed or Millennial Mary. And you’ll know who these people are by doing this exercise.
Second. You’re truly going to need to know the “what” of what your competitors provide and what you provide and who does what best. Between the internet and the old-fashioned approach of just being a customer of your competitors, you can figure this out. Where does your company stand on price? Do you have any unique systems or processes that no one else uses? Do you perform your service faster than anyone else? Friendlier than anyone else? Simply saying that you’re “higher quality” doesn’t mean anything. Every company says that. List objective, specific ways how your company provides a better service or product than anyone else.
Third. After you have your list of all of the specific ways that your company delivers a better product, write next to each of those items how it makes your Customer Avatar feel. These are specific emotions. I would go beyond just “sad” or “happy”, unless those truly are the most specific, descriptive emotions that are a result of your services/product offerings.
Fourth. Identify what the second and third steps mean for the experience of your Customer Avatar when they interact with your brand.
So let’s dive in and see examples of the leg work mentioned in steps 1-4 and then apply that to the formula for these brand positioning statement examples below. Though few of these brands have expressed their brand positioning statements this simply, we’re going to take their mission statements and do it for them.
I love Southwest. They’re not perfect. But I can change flights without change fees and check free luggage. Plus their punny posters in the jet bridge make me snicker.
So let’s break down their brand position:
1. Their Customer Avatar: This one’s a little challenging since virtually anyone can fly with them. But they’ve still created one—or many. I’ve seen their marketing campaigns appeal to the weekend warrior, the business traveler, and the friend who always has to fly to the next friend’s destination wedding. Let’s just call her Bridesmaid Beth.
2. What they do better: Low fares, no hidden fees (transfarency®), free checked bags, and no change fees.
3. How it makes Bridesmaid Beth feel: free and flexible. Do you remember Southwest’s old slogan “You are now free to move about the country”? That was no accident.
4. The Customer Avatar experience: freedom to fly to her friend’s weddings without breaking the bank.
So let’s wrap this up into our simple brand positioning formula. (Product Name: Southwest) enables (customer: Bridesmaid Beth) to experience (what: freedom to fly to her friend’s weddings without breaking the bank.)
Let’s get to the breakdown.
1. Their Customer Avatar: Again, though almost anyone can catch a ride with an Uber driver, their imagery typically caters to 30 and 40 somethings who live in an urban setting. Let’s call Uber’s Customer Avatar City Sam.
2. What they do better: Keep in mind that Uber positions themselves against the alternative of them being there—like taxis, walking, and driving yourself. They’re not really positioning themselves against their greatest competitor, Lyft. This works if you have zero to maybe one other competitor. So what does Uber say they do better? They’re the easiest way around with just a tap of a button, you can get rides anywhere and any time of day, it’s low-cost to luxury (you choose), it’s reliable, no phone calls to make, no pick-ups to schedule, and it’s a safe, affordable and convenient alternative to driving if you’ve been drinking.
3. How it makes City Sam feel: in control, at ease, and safe.
4. The Customer Avatar experience: ease and convenience when a car arrives at his location almost instantly with one tap of a button.
The brand positioning statement: (Product Name: Uber) enables (customer: City Sam) to experience (what: ease and convenience when a car arrives at his location almost instantly with one tap of a button.)
Sure we’ve all shed some tears trying to assemble that IKEA TV console that falls apart a year later. But for some reason, we keep going back—hook, line, and sinker. And what’s their hook? Here we go.
1. Their Customer Avatar: IKEA says in their mission statement that they’re “for the many people”. But when you look at the photos on their website or take note of fellow shoppers while penciling in your aisle number, you’ll notice that it’s a lot of college students and young(er) adults trying to find an affordable, yet stylish piece of furniture. Let’s call this Customer Avatar Starving Artist Sarah.
2. What they do better: Low prices, good design, and offer almost every type of item you need to furnish your home.
3. How it makes Starving Artist Sarah feel: stylish and included.
4. The Customer Avatar experience: accessibility to a well-designed, affordable furnished home.
The brand positioning statement: (Product Name: IKEA) enables (customer: Starving Artist Sarah) to experience (what: accessibility to a well-designed, affordable furnished home.)
Now it’s your turn to use these brand positioning statement examples to craft your own. Go through steps 1-4 and fill in the blanks for the brand positioning statement formula. And here’s a tip—this statement can and should be used for the main message on the top area of your homepage. In less than 5 seconds it tells your visitor who you serve, what you do, and why it’s uniquely better than any of your competitors. Just remember to remove the name of your Customer Avatar for public viewing. That just stays with you and your internal team.
Now that you have your brand positioning statement, now what? Do you have all the components of a successful brand? Download this Brand checklist to be sure.