It is customary to think of brand positioning as the unique image of the brand in the minds of the audience, which is responsible for attracting and retaining the target consumer, the formation of long-term loyalty. To put it simply, positioning is the image of the brand in the shopper’s head.
Brand strategy is a broader concept. And this is in the literal sense of the word “strategy” – a set of strategic decisions and tactics aimed at achieving the desired result, that is, at shaping the image of the brand/company in the mind of the buyer. The brand strategy determines the conscious choice of the audience on which the brand will focus (which in turn means cutting off less relevant audience segments), the conscious choice of the product and its characteristics that should best solve the problems of the selected audience, the conscious choice of channels, communications, etc.
Five basic brand positioning strategies
Of course, each brand is individual, and there are no two identical strategies, especially in the same market or in the same segment. But there are basic types of positioning and differentiation strategies that enable a company to unleash its strengths and develop an optimal differentiating proposition.
1. Focus strategy on one category or segment
This strategy allows the formation of super-competence in one narrow-profile sector, in one product category or segment. At the same time, due to a clearer understanding of both the product and the consumer’s requirements, such brands manage to form a proposal that is more attractive to the consumer. They form value and competence in the eyes of the target audience precisely due to the fact that they do not grasp the production of all products or the provision of all services in the segment.
The focusing strategy works equally well in all areas. The main point is that seeing a specialist in one narrow issue, the client understands that they is an expert. They will definitely solve the problem faster and more efficiently than a multidisciplinary specialist.
If you still manage to create a new category or segment through innovation or a new approach to solving a problem, you will surely establish a leadership position for your brand for a long time.
2. Positioning strategy against a competitor
This brand strategy works as efficiently as possible for those companies that are in a situation of fierce competition with one specific competitor. The optimal approach to developing a brand positioning strategy in this situation is to understand how you differ from your direct competitor and focus on this quality.
A classic example of the formation of a competitive advantage against a competitor is the strategies of BMW and Mercedes-Benz: two irreconcilable competitors fighting for the same market. The first positions itself as a manufacturer of cars for drivers, while the second is entirely focused on the comfort, first of all, of the passenger.
No. 3. Brand focus strategy on a specific audience
This category of strategies may include: positioning in a certain price segment, in the b2b or b2c segment, positioning with a focus on a certain sociodemographic group, on representatives of a certain gender or age, as well as on the principle of values shared by the audience and the brand.
This is the strategy used by Pepsi in the famous “Young Generation Chooses Pepsi” campaign.
Let’s look at a few more examples of brand strategy with a focus on a specific audience.
Today, any brands focused on sustainable development, ethical production and environmentally friendly ways of doing business will appeal to a conscious audience (often with above-average wealth) that understands the principle of the modern economy, cares about the world around them, humanity, strives to preserve nature, justice, equal opportunities. This is a great strategy to streak for in the modern world, and a good quality branding agency from Sydney will help you with it.
4. Broad reach strategy
In the mass segment, you can also find the opportunity for effective brand positioning in the market. In this case, the formula for the best price-quality ratio will be used. This strategy was at the heart of IKEA and many other retail and not only brands. The essence of the strategy is the opposite of the previous version and consists of the widest possible coverage of the audience.
A wide coverage can be achieved through a wide and varied offer, as well as the formation of offers that will be perceived by a potential consumer as the best quality at a given price.
Brands that have chosen this strategy, as a rule, focus on the lower and middle price segments, since they are the ones that are truly massive. In the premium segment with this positioning, the brand will not gain the required coverage and is unlikely to become widespread.
5. Benefit based brand positioning
Brand benefits can be rational – obvious and tangible, and emotional – allowing the consumer to feel a certain way through the interaction with the brand.
A good example of brand positioning based on rational value can be found in the car manufacturer Volvo, which pioneered the introduction of three-point seat belts on all models, making them the industry standard. The brand also has its own safety laboratory, which is a separate huge building, where new protective equipment is constantly tested, crash tests and other experiments are carried out aimed at reducing mortality and damage during accidents. A special Volvo team in Sweden travels to accident sites with the police and conducts an independent investigation if a brand car was involved in the accident. This focus on safety has allowed the brand to build a confident and proven positioning in this segment for decades.
Brand positioning is the key to success in today’s world. High competition determines the urgent need to differentiate, detach from competitors and create value. It is this strategic business task that the development of brand positioning solves.
The choice of a positioning strategy determines what your brand will be like, what values and principles will form the basis of its daily operations, what the product will be like and what emotions it will evoke. These are fundamentally important factors for building loyalty, trusting relationships with an audience and a long-term growth strategy.