Brand Positioning Strategies: Gaining A Competitive Edge

23/10/23 | Brandwell

Brand positioning strategies are an important consideration for any branding process, and is ultimately integral to a brand’s success. In any market, to become successful, a brand must stand out amongst its competitors – and a brand positioning strategy is a vital first step to creating distinctiveness and building mindshare or consumer awarenessin your target market.

Some companies have done such an excellent job of brand positioning strategy, gaining a massive share of mind in their target market, that they become representative of the entire category – think ‘Google it’bandaid, or panadol. These are all brands that have grown so distinctive within their respective category, that they are used as shorthand for the entire category. In many cases, these brands do not offer a vastly different product or service than their competitors, but they do have an extremely powerful brand positioning strategy driving their distinctiveness.

There are multiple types of brand positioning strategies – which we will explore below – businesses can blend approaches to create a strategy unique to their specific circumstances, offering, target audiences and market competition. At the end of the article, you should have a clear understanding of the benefits of a brand positioning strategy and also how to choose a suitable one for your own brand.

What is a Brand Positioning?

Brand Positioning is a holistic approach to branding with the aim of creating a distinctive positioning for a brand, relative to other competing brands  in the marketplace. Ultimately, it will help your brand’s product or service stand out against the competition – showing potential customers your value.

When done correctly, Brand Positioning can be a powerful tool with many benefits – from improving Brand Recall (the portion of target market who name your brand when presented with a product category) to creating market differentiation and mental availability in the minds of your consumers.

We’ve got a deeper dive into Brand Positioning in our blog, if you are interested to learn more.

What is a Brand Positioning Strategy?

In order to create the best brand positioning for a given brand, a brand positioning strategy is essential.  A strategy is, at its core, the approach taken to position your brand and to create perceptions in the mind of the customer. It is how you create distinctiveness, recall and mental availability in the mind’s of your target consumers. Specific strategies might include one or more of either value, quality, social media, convenience and many others which we will explore below. It’s important to note that an effective strategy doesn’t necessarily mean just one of these approaches – it could be built across a few pillars.

A leading example of an excellent brand positioning strategy would be Apple – a brand that conjures up a strong sense of innovation, design excellence and an overall premium quality. Apple has curated a world-leading Brand Position through years of marketing efforts across multiple channels; with a relatively consistent premium positioning strategy.

Types of Brand Positioning Strategies

Naturally, with many unique markets, target consumers and competitors there are almost as many different brand positioning strategies to fit the unique conditions of each brand. Strategies can be as diverse as positioning on value (think ‘own-brand’ items in a grocery store) while others position on quality, convenience or even solving a specific problem for a customer.  All have the ultimate aim of building distinctiveness and mental availability in the target market.

Some of the most popularly used positioning strategies could be:

  1. Value based strategies – Value based strategies seek to compete on price with their competitors. A strong example of a value based strategy would be Woolworths Essentials range – which are often lower-priced basics that are offered cheaper than named brands are.

  2. Quality based strategies – Quality positioning strategies align well with high quality products or services. Often, brands positioning on quality will not communicate price point, instead emphasising the superior quality – creating a desire in consumers irrespective of the price. RM Willams are a good example of a brand that positions squarely on quality.

  3. Premium based strategies – Premium positioning is similar in some respects to quality, however price is used to a  greater extent to help position the brand as premium, as well as building the ‘story’ of the brand. This works well in categories where it can be difficult to differentiate the quality of a product or service. Think vodka vs whisky – whisky can certainly compete with a quality based strategy – emphasising age, region or the specific distillation process. Whereas with vodka, this concept is more nebulous and rather than positioning on quality, they position on premiumness  – think Grey Goose.

  4. Customer service based strategies – Customer Service brand positioning strategies work well in industries which have frequent or frustrating customer interactions. Brands with a customer service positioning strategy ensure they maintain top of mind awareness by delivering and communicating the quality of support and service their customers receive. A great example of a successful customer service positioning strategy is Aussie Broadband – positioning themselves as the go-to brand for superior customer service in the competitive ISP market – winning multiple Australian Service Excellence Awards and boasting about it in their marketing materials.

  5. Convenience based strategies – With this strategy, a brand will position their product and services as accessible, easy to use or obtain and ultimately more convenient than the competitors. A great example of a convenience based strategy is American brand Dollar Shave Club – a brand that consistently emphasises the ease at which you can obtain and use their products. Offering a subscription based, home delivery model for razor blades – a purchase that was originally a recurring trip to the grocery store for many consumers, DSC does an excellent job of playing up their convenience in a market already dominated by a couple of large brands.

Brand Positioning Strategy Examples

With the above more popular positioning strategies listed, now we can deep dive into a couple of real-world examples of brands successfully employing a brand positioning strategy.

An example of a premium positioning strategy is Grey Goose; competing in the vodka market  (a marketplace where differences in colour, odour and even taste are relatively negibile between competitors) – Grey Goose positions itself as a premium player largely because of its price point and striking packaging. Of course, the product itself is still quality but the vodka market is not as responsive to notions of quality as the whisky market might be. Because of this, premium positioning is much more effective for Grey Goose. In Grey Goose’s case, it was so effective that the founder sold the brand for over $2 billion to Bacardi within ten years of its creation.

Another example is Patagonia, they are able to stand apart from competitors in the field by talking up the brand’s core values of an environmentally conscious and sustainable brand, while also maintaining a high quality of products. With sustainable materials and a pledge to donate 1% of profits to environmental causes, as well as taking steps to ensure fair treatment of workers – Patagonia does a brilliant job of differentiating its brand in the crowded outdoor apparel market.

Benefits of Having the Right Brand Positioning Strategy

There are numerous benefits from having a great brand positioning strategy – many of them as a result of the increased top of mind awareness and mental availability in your target market. Essentially, your target market will think of you more frequently in purchasing situations – which has a range of benefits including building loyalty, purchase frequency, relevance and ultimately extra revenue flowing into the brand.

Furthermore, a great brand positioning strategy is like money in the bank – it will set you on the path for growth in your target market and a properly executed brand positioning strategy will consolidate the actual brand position year on year, generating potentially exponential payoffs as the position becomes more established.

Benefits of Having the Right Brand Positioning Strategy

So, how can you go about choosing a positioning strategy for your brand? Luckily, there are just a few key steps you’ll need to take in order to choose and implement a brand positioning strategy:

  1. Understand your current brand positioning (new businesses or brands can skip this step)
  2. Research competitors
  3. Compare your brand positioning to the competitors brand positioning
  4. Work out what makes your brand unique (find the ‘USP’)
  5. Create a brand positioning statement
  6. Create a plan for implementing the brand positioning strategy.

In a previous article on Brand Positioning, we outlined how to complete these steps in more detail, so if you’d like to learn more on the specifics of each step, we’d recommend you give that one a read.

Ultimately, to succeed as a brand and as a business, you need to be distinctive to create top of mind awareness in your target market. An effective brand positioning strategy which is relevant to your brand and resonates with your audience could be a mix of value, quality, problem/solution or many others – the key is to pick what works for your brand, market and audience. With a well designed positioning strategy you are setting your brand up for future success, and it’s never too late (or too early) to begin thinking about your Brand Positioning Strategy.

Wherever you are on your brand positioning journey – whether you’re stuck at competitor research or haven’t got an understanding of your current positioning yet, at Brandwell, we are more than happy to help you along the way!