Understanding Brand Positioning: How to Make Your Marketing Work For You

Understanding Brand Positioning: How to Make Your Marketing Work For You

by Jeremy Unruh | September 6, 2017

The first step in creating effective marketing messages is to clearly identify your company’s brand positioning. All too often, a company isn’t clear on exactly what it does best, which can leave potential customers confused. Understanding the three different brand positions, and how to clearly define which position your company offers, can help you attract new customers quickly and efficiently.

Cost Leader

Companies who choose the Cost Leader brand position promise to offer customers the lowest price. This position is a good fit for brands who specialize in logistics and operational effectiveness. Wal-Mart is a well-known brand that effectively positions itself as a cost leader.

The biggest brand positioning mistake that many Cost Leaders make is trying to offer too much with their products. The customers of these brands aren’t looking for products with all the bells and whistles; they are looking for products that will get the job done at the lowest possible price.

Trying to offer products of the highest quality with tons of features AND at the lowest price isn’t sustainable long-term – effective cost leaders understand that they are targeting customers who are extremely price sensitive and should focus their marketing strategy accordingly.

Service Leader

Service Leader brands focus more on the service and support provided with the product than the actual product itself. This brand positioning is a good fit for companies that invest in quality staff and support materials for their products. Chik-fil-A is a well-known brand that effectively positions itself as a service leader.

The biggest brand positioning mistake that many service leaders make is trying to multitask as a service and cost leader. The target customer for a Service Leader wants to be assured that they will have a good service experience, and they are willing to pay for it; offering a product at too low a price will make customers suspicious and cause them to steer clear.

Innovation Leader

Brands who position as Innovation Leaders promise to provide cutting edge products ahead of their competitors. This brand positioning is a good fit for companies that invest heavily in research and development. Apple is a well-known brand that effectively positions itself as an innovation leader.

The biggest brand positioning mistake that many Innovation Leaders make is failing to understand the needs of their target customers. The target customers for innovation leaders are often referred to as “early adopters“; they want to experience the latest technology before any of their friends and are willing to pay a premium to do so.

Missing the mark on the newest trend or developing a product that does not resonate with early adopters will cause the core customer base to alienate an Innovation Leader in search of another company that will provide better technology.

Presenting an authentic brand position can certainly be challenging, but using the three core brand positions as a guide can help you establish an effective brand position for your company. Trying to be everything to everyone is not only an unprofitable business model, it also leaves customers confused about what kind of experience they will have when doing business with your company. A winning model is to focus on what you do best and clearly define that through an effective brand position.