We live in a time of limitless choices, largely as a result of the rapid growth and assimilation of technology in our everyday lives. Whereas we used to have controlled options to choose from, suddenly we’re overwhelmed with seemingly endless possibilities that give the discerning customer the right to ask:
Why should I choose you? What makes you so special? Why should I care about you/your brand? What makes you think you’re the best option on the block? Prove it to me; these thoughts and more run through the minds of customers and consumers before they make a decision on the market.
Brand positioning is best described by Philip Kotler is the act of designing your company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of your target market.
Strong brands succeed because they resonate with a portion of their market better than anyone else, but they don’t have to be the only player in their market doing so. You won’t find positioning statements on a package, website, or store shelf. Rather, it’s an internal exercise that drives all the key decisions in an organization. It defines what you say, where you say it, how you say it, and who you say it to.
By shaping consumer preferences, brand positioning strategies are directly linked to consumer loyalty, consumer-based brand equity, and the willingness to purchase the brand. Effective brand positioning can be referred to as the extent to which a brand is perceived as favourable, different and credible in consumers’ minds.
Positioning leaves price out of their branding and instead focuses on the value their products offer and the connection formed with their consumers.
The Game Changer
It also doesn’t help that in today’s digital world, we’re bombarded with over 10,000 marketing messages a day. Brands face the challenge of rising above the din and proving their worth. Brands begin to win and be distinct when they emotionally connect with their customers, backed by practical and unique selling points before the customers have even set foot in the store.
Your brand has to be more than just your product offering. Your brand must be more than just a drink, shoe, app in the play store, insurance policy, tech product, a dress, or a pancake mix on a shelf that momentarily captures passing interest.
Product positioning is something inherently different from brand positioning. Marketers need to move product, so they devise marketing and messaging strategies to curry the favour of their intended audience. They’re trying to convince a customer that their product beats the competition. They’ll focus on attributes, features, and benefits relative to customers’ needs, wants, and preferences.
Positioning also clarifies the competitive difference. Consumers are constantly posing the “why should I choose you?” question, and you need to be ready with the elements that make your brand stand out. It also influences content and creative.
Some good examples of brand positioning on the market
When it comes to brand positioning, Coca-Cola is one of the most successful examples. Number one in its segment, it is no wonder that the company survives more than 125 years in the market. In its many campaigns, such as “Open Happiness”, “The Coca-Cola side of life” and “Drinking a Coke with”, the brand has always relied on values such as Friendship, Happiness, Joy, Sharing, Unity and Fun to the position. The positioning of the brand promotes engagement among its consumers, encouraging them to share moments and experiences.
Apple is positioned as a brand that offers elegance, luxury and exclusivity. This is perceived in their products, services, web site and also in Apple Stores. Today, the company dominates the technology market. Your positioning serves as the basis for all your marketing campaigns.
Observe MTN as a brand over the years, and it becomes apparent– MTN wants to be more than just a network. This is implied in their growth and offerings. MTN’s tagline “everywhere you go” underlines their brand position of becoming a life partner to their customers everywhere they go.
This position has birthed innovative products such as Mobile Money, Ayoba, MTN Music etc because these offerings play active roles in the everyday lives of their customers everywhere, they go. This evidently, transcends their primary offering of just talk time on the MTN Network.
Brand positioning in the digital age
Once you have established your brand positioning, everything you do from that point forward should be in support of this, including your digital marketing efforts. You cannot force someone to think about your brand in a certain way. Someone’s thoughts and perceptions of you are created through the unique interactions and experiences they have with you.
So, what you can do, is provide your audience with the experiences that will help to form those positive impressions. Again, every interaction someone has with your brand is another piece of the puzzle that forms their overall perception of you… and will determine whether or not they find your brand valuable, relevant and unique.
How to nail your positioning on digital
- Think like your customer
Your brand isn’t a projection of yourself onto your customers; rather, it’s a direct reflection of them. In the discovery phase, we gathered everything we could about our “target” (i.e., prospective customers). Basic demographic info simply wasn’t enough; we needed to get inside their heads and hearts. What occasions or events in their lives motivate them to purchase? What problems or challenges do they need solutions for? What are their behaviours and habits? Who influences their buying decisions? Where do they look and who do they turn to for validation?
The point is that you want to understand your audience so acutely deriving insight from their digital footprint and online behaviours that your brand, marketing, and messaging would not only be relevant but would make a memorable mark.
Think about it, a typical mobile user checks their phone more than 150 times per day. Do you spot a goldmine for your brand? Right away it goes without saying that – as a brand, you need to leverage mobile-friendly designs with large fonts, buttons, and calls to action and make sure your website and emails are optimized for mobile devices. Or, create a mobile app that targets back to your overall organizational goals.
In the brand positioning process, it all starts with the customer; considering a multitude of factors from age to gender to disposable income, through to their estimated frequency of purchase. Both an opportunity and a challenge, the online brand must identify, how through digital, they can raise awareness via the channels these customers frequent and engage with.
- Thorough Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is a key part of the brand process in order to differentiate image, messaging, and approach. Digital channels and their transparency allow this analysis to be done more thoroughly than ever before. From searching online, to sampling apps, to experiencing website UX and subscribing to their emails, competitor analysis is more open and accessible than ever before.
More than ever before, insight can be gained to learn what they offer, how they communicate, what the experience is like and where they focus customer and product attention online.
This competitor analysis can provide key insight into such factors as:
- The social networks they should occupy and focus on
- The competitiveness for key search terms amongst competitors
- The content strategy employed to deliver more relevance
- Online Value Propositions, a business can commit to that better or are different to those of the competition.
- Identifying a strategic and unique gap a business can occupy and begin to monopolise based on a customer benefiting digital application
All brands have to be aware that they are being watched, monitored and ultimately driving a competitor response based on the transparency of the digital world. Prices are being matched, tweets are being scanned, and websites are being crawled through so as brands can with the right resource and tactics, begin to gain a competitive advantage.
- Your Brand… Their Experience
Finally, how someone perceives your brand is controlled by them… but your brand has the opportunity to influence this perception through engaging brand experiences. Social media provides a prime forum for this type of influential engagement.
In social media though, it’s not about selling, it’s about storytelling. Your story should speak to your brand positioning consistently and effectively. Every touchpoint you have with your audience on social channels should support and reinforce the brand image you want to exude.
Not just once or once in a while. Each and every communication you have impacted your brand perception. Thus, everything you post, share, write, tweet, reply, etc. on social media should be purposeful and in alignment with your brand positioning… and more importantly, it should always be of value to your audience.
>>>The writer is Head, Digital Media and Innovation, Global Media Alliance. He is a digital media and marketing expert, whose expertise includes developing and executing marketing & digital media strategies for brands from diverse industries, digital transformation leadership, training and driving business growth through digital.
- Graduate Master in Digital Leadership, at Nobel International Business School
- Certified Digital Professional, Google and IBM
- Post Graduate Diploma in Digital Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG Ghana)
- Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Statistics from the University of Ghana
With over six years’ experience in the industry, Eli has worked with both local and international brands such as USAID, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Huawei, Kasapreko, Samsung, Tullow, Ecobank, Consolidated Bank Ghana, Pizza Inn, Miniso Ghana, Accra Mall just to name a few. In January 2020, Eli received BBC Media Leader Training Award with honours for work done with YFM Ghana.