Which Positioning Strategy Is Right for Your Brand?
When you are growing a brand, you need to make deliberate choices about how to position yourself against others in your field. A confused consumer doesn’t buy. Defining what makes you different helps you own a spot in the consumer’s mind. Otherwise you are thrown into a bucket mixed with everyone else in the same category. Here are some approaches to brand positioning to consider, with example observations from some of my favorite brands.
Deliver a high-quality product
Brands that do this are a step above the common offering. Goldfish Swim School started because of the unsatisfactory experience of swimming lessons at local schools and health clubs. They created a higher-level service offering with warmer water, cleaner facilities, better-trained instructors, and lower teacher-student ratios. By elevating the quality of their services, they differentiated themselves from other swim lessons available.
Many businesses set themselves apart from the competition by adding a charity donation to their for-profit sales. Toms Shoes made this strategy popular with their one-for-one model: for each pair of shoes bought, another pair is donated to someone in need. Just Love Coffee built its coffee roasting business around donating a portion of profits to charity and by offering charities the opportunity to build fundraisers for themselves around selling coffee.
David vs. Goliath
When you are small and starting out, there will always be that big, recognizable brand in your category — the market leader. One way to position yourself is to choose what you don’t like about the big brand’s business and promote your company as the opposite. The founder of Toppers Pizza, who originally worked for Domino’s, positioned Toppers as the opposite of big pizza brands, vowing to “Never Settle” for the way the corporate pizza shops do business. This allows Toppers to appear as a kind of rebel and attract an audience that aligns with this persona. Taco Bell took this same approach with their “Think outside the bun” campaign.
Stellar customer service standards
Everyone says they have great customer service, so you really must have something unique if you want to differentiate your brand with this strategy. What do you do that goes above and beyond common customer service expectations? Chick-fil-A is well-known for its Southern hospitality approach to customer service. Their employees say “Please,” “Thank you,” and “My pleasure.” Their employees are trained to understand that you never know what another person may be feeling when they walk in the door. It’s what has made them the best-selling chicken chain in the country. Auto mechanics traditionally do not have a reputation for integrity or transparency. Christian Brothers Automotive positioned their brand on Christian values to be seen as the auto mechanics who can be trusted, even trademarking it with a “Nice Difference Warranty.”
Blue ocean strategy
Another brand positioning strategy is to find a niche market you can own – a blue ocean where you can be a big fish, instead of a small one in a crowded pond. National wireless service providers face cutthroat competition, so U.S. Cellular decided to go after under-served markets in smaller towns and less competitive rural areas the national carriers had ignored. It’s the reason they’re installing 5G in places like Waterloo, Iowa and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
It can be tempting to try to use more than one of these strategies to promote your brand, but you are better off focusing on your largest point of differentiation and repeating it in every marketing campaign over the life of your brand. This is what you will become known for and what will separate you from your competition. Which strategy will you choose?
Karen Wenning is the Business Development Manager, Marketing Resource Center at Suttle-Straus, which provides comprehensive marketing solutions that incorporate creative design, mailing, fulfillment, distribution, wide-format, and conventional and digital printing services. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 608-850-2987.
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