Brand Positioning: How Perception Can Make or Break a Brand

By Joe Weller | November 3, 2023

Unique value propositions and brand positioning can set a company apart from the crowd. One-of-a-kind value-adds also make brands desirable, especially when they are tailored to customer pain points. When a company stays true to its identity by prioritizing consistent and helpful branding across multiple platforms, revenue growth can increase by 10 to 20 percent. 

By establishing a powerful brand, companies can draw and keep the attention of their target audiences, greatly strengthening public brand perception, trust, loyalty, and authority. Our brand positioning guide dives into the different types of brand positioning, how to create a brand positioning strategy, best practices, examples, and brand positioning templates.

What Is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is the strategy used to differentiate a brand from its competitors. Effective positioning strengthens a brand’s identity, communicates its value proposition, and supports customer decisions. Marketers can also use different positioning strategies to create unique associations between a brand and its propositions, depending on customer wants and needs. 

When communicated well, brand positioning helps companies stay top of mind for customers and control how they are perceived within their industry. Without unique brand positioning, customers will not connect your products or services to your brand’s exclusive offers and benefits, which can impact brand awareness, loyalty, trust, and authority.

Effective brand positioning separates brand competitor's identities and benefits.

What Is a Brand Positioning Statement?

A brand positioning statement is an internal summary used to communicate the value a company brings to its target market. This statement is usually part of a larger marketing strategy, which should merge brand aspirations with the brand’s current performance. Positioning statements also need to consider a company’s value proposition, the brand’s product or service, its benefits, internal brand values, and proof of impact.   

Effective brand positioning statements prioritize these considerations through four common elements:

  1. Target Audience: Identify and prioritize your core audience. What do they need, and how do they view your competitors? Use this information to influence your positioning.
  2. Market Definition: Consider the market and industry of your brand. The category of your brand’s and its competitors’ product or service is extremely relevant to your positioning and can impact your brand identity.
  3. Brand Promise: Define what benefits and promises your brand stands for — your brand positioning will need to reflect these values. 
  4. Reason to Believe: Give your audience evidence that your brand delivers on its promises. Without a reason to believe in the benefits of your brand, your positioning will likely fall flat.

Why Is Brand Positioning Important?

Brand positioning is important because it provides brands with a clear, straightforward way to share their values, beliefs, benefits, and identity with their target audience. Brand positioning uses both external and internal communication strategies to voice brand identity.

Brand positioning also helps companies control their own reputation and evolve their brand identity based on the needs of their customers, target audiences, and industries. This also allows for:

  • Differentiation: Effective brand positioning separates a brand from its competitors by focusing on its unique value-adds, propositions, and product or service benefits.
  • Pricing Justification: Using careful brand positioning statements, pricing strategies — both affordable and high — can be justified by quality products or inexpensive resources.
  • Creativity: Brand positioning requires unique competitive products. This can encourage branding, product, and service creativity and improve market differentiation.
  • Emotion: Connecting with your target audience requires some depth of emotion. Powerful positioning statements utilize emotion to create loyalty and trust between a brand and its customers.
Brand positioning supports differentiation, pricing, creativity, and emotion.

How To Create a Brand Positioning Strategy

After settling on a strategy type, your company needs to know how to create a launchable and maintainable brand positioning strategy. With every strategy, you need to consider:

  • Consumers: What do they want and need?
  • Competitors: How are they currently positioning themselves and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Company: What are your capabilities and unique selling points?

These considerations need to work together to establish an adaptable but realistic brand positioning strategy, regardless of your product or service.

Brand positioning considers consumers, competitors and the company.

1. Identify Current Brand Positioning

How are you currently positioning your brand, both on the market and within its industry? By evaluating your current positioning, you can determine your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and what to prioritize in order to build your identity. Plus, you need to understand your current positioning to compare and outperform your competitors’ brand positioning. To identify your brand positioning:

  • Identify your mission and values.
  • Define and understand your target audience.
  • Define the value proposition and unique selling point of your product or service.
  • Understand your brand persona and voice.

2. Chart Your Brand Essence

After identifying your current positioning, you must understand how your customers view your brand. By charting your brand essence, you can gain an in-depth understanding of your target audience’s views, emotions, personality, and more. Create an essence wheel from scratch or use a template to understand your brand’s emotional benefit.

Brand Essence Wheel Template

Download Brand Essence Wheel Template - Adobe PDF

Use this Brand Essence Wheel template to chart your customers’ emotions and facts about your brand’s personality, symbols, promises, and benefits.

3. Conduct Competitor Research

Brand positioning is about more than just your brand — it’s also about your competitors. After defining your current positioning and essence, identify your competition and conduct a competitive analysis. Insight into your competitors can help you further identify your brand’s unique selling points, value proposition, and other differentiating factors. 

During this stage, consider:

  • Conducting Market Research: Use keywords or sales teams to identify competitors and their brand positioning strategies. 
  • Analyzing Customer Feedback: Use real data collected from your target audience to identify competing brands, products, and services.
  • Utilizing Social Media: Use online forums and other tools to analyze brand mentions, platform and post engagement, and other metrics across social media.

4. Determine Your Value Proposition

It will be incredibly difficult to create a brand positioning strategy without first identifying the unique value your brand provides to its target audience. While you may uncover aspects of your brand’s value in step one — identifying your current brand positioning — you can use this time to dive deeper into your propositions and their most effective selling points.

Use your competitor research to identify patterns across other brand products. What are their strengths and weaknesses, and can your product or service provide something theirs can’t? Also, consider using a value proposition positioning template to quickly and easily determine the value-adds of your brand. Then, use these value-adds to continue moving through the creation process.

5. Create a Brand Positioning Strategy

Next, it’s time to dive into the heart of your strategy. Begin by choosing your strategy type and building the initial framework, which should include:

  • Your brand identity
  • A value proposition
  • Mission, vision, and value statements
  • Your target audience 
  • A competitor analysis
  • An elevator pitch
  • Message pillars, tone of voice, and style guide

These elements can help you identify and create your brand’s key messaging, which will be used throughout your brand positioning strategy. Consider taking a top-down approach to your strategy, where you identify your most important audiences and messages before crafting nuanced positioning statements for more specific audiences.

6. Workshop a Brand Positioning Statement

Your brand positioning statement is where everything comes together. This short, one- to two-sentence declaration should quickly demonstrate your value proposition and its connection to your target audience. This statement should answer the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What category or industry does your product or service fall into?
  • How does your brand benefit your audience?
  • What proof can you provide?

An effective brand positioning statement will answer these questions clearly without being pushy or overbearing. This statement should also be available to both internal parties (including a brand’s employees) and external parties (including its target audience).

7. Launch and Gather Feedback

You’ll never know the true power of your brand positioning until it’s released to your target audience. After launching your positioning by updating internal and external messaging, analyze your audience’s reactions or interact with customers to gather firsthand feedback. Consider implementing an A/B test or experimenting with other testing methods to gain valuable insights from your customers — and remember that brand positioning is a flexible strategy.

8. Adjust and Maintain Brand Positioning

Having a powerful brand position doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) change. Most likely, you’ll need to reevaluate, update, or tweak your brand positioning statement and its overall goals throughout the life of your brand, product, or service. Consider scheduling and implementing regular brand positioning evaluations into your company’s project cycle and assign a team to update your strategy and statement as needed.

Brand Positioning Strategy Best Practices

Creating a brand positioning strategy and statement isn’t a one-and-done project. To be effective and long-lasting, positioning strategies require companies to follow these crucial best practices:

  • Establish Emotional Connection: Connect with your customers on their level before pushing them toward your brand offerings. Consider your audience’s pain points and attempt to provide actionable solutions.
  • Create Value: The value you provide doesn’t stop at the end of your value chain model. Build your products and services with a problem-solving intent in mind rather than a bottom line. 
  • Feature a Value Proposition: Don’t hide your value proposition. Be proud of your brand’s position and keep your value at the center of your strategy.
  • Prioritize the Customer Experience: Make your customer experiences a value-add on their own. Support your employees so customer-facing roles and programs embody your core values and prioritize the needs of your target audience.
  • Be Consistent: Consistent does not mean constant. Keep your core values at the heart of your brand positioning, but don’t be afraid to update or change your strategy over time. Stay consistent by prioritizing customer needs and brand identity.
  • Enable Growth: Allow your brand to grow and change. If a brand’s positioning no longer meshes with its new-and-improved values, products, or services, adapt it. Don’t stall organizational growth by refusing to improve your brand’s overall positioning.

3 Brand Positioning Examples

The most successful brands understand how important brand positioning is. Consider these brand positioning examples, including their strategies and statements, before crafting your own brand position.

1. Dove Brand Positioning

Dove brand positioning example

From its start in 1957, Dove has prioritized a differentiation strategy. Instead of creating another type of soap, Dove created a “beauty bar,” which was a unique product designed to moisturize and sanitize. In 2003, Dove repositioned its brand through the “Real Beauty” campaign, which emphasized natural beauty in women of all ages, ethnicities, and sizes. Today, the brand continues to prioritize natural beauty and functional products.

Type of strategy: Differentiation positioning strategy
Positioning statement: “​​Our mission is to make a positive experience of beauty accessible to all women.” — Unilever

2. Starbucks Brand Positioning

Starbucks brand positioning example

Since it was founded in 1971 on the streets of Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA, Starbucks has become a household name through effective marketing and brand positioning. By using quality ingredients in its one-of-a-kind recipe, Starbucks set itself apart from its competitors. Flash forward to the present, and the internationally known brand continues to produce high-quality products by prioritizing customer wants and expectations.


Type of strategy: Quality-based positioning strategy
Positioning statement: “With every cup, with every conversation, with every community — we nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection.” — Starbucks

3. Zoom Brand Positioning

Zoom brand positioning example

Zoom took the video conferencing industry by storm in 2020, becoming one of the most popular collaboration platforms almost overnight. The brand quickly solidified its product and service as a convenient, practical option for educational and professional settings, which also helped differentiate it from other video conferencing technology. Today, Zoom continues to adapt to its customers' needs, providing near-instantaneous chat, video, and other collaboration options.


Types of strategies: Competitor- and convenience-based positioning strategies
Positioning statement: “One platform delivering limitless human connection.” — Zoom

Brand Positioning Templates

While it’s possible to create a brand positioning strategy from scratch, templates can help streamline the process. Consider using a brand positioning strategy template or brand positioning map to support your brand identity and positioning.

Brand Positioning Strategy Template

Brand Positioning Strategy Template

Download Brand Positioning Strategy Template - Adobe PDF

A brand positioning strategy template can help you identify competitors, customers, and unique value-adds supported by your product. This template also allows marketers to create a brand benefit ladder and a positioning statement, which can strengthen and solidify internal and external positioning.

Brand Positioning Map

Brand Positioning Map Template

Download Brand Positioning Map Template
Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets | Adobe PDF

To better understand your competitors, consider using a brand positioning map template to map your brand’s attributes. This template can help compare your brand’s offerings and identity to others in your industry. To use this template, identify your target audience’s two most important considerations. Then place your brand and competing brands within the map based on their success.

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