The art of positioning is one of the hardest concepts to grasp in marketing. Sure, we teach it in school, but it’s an art and a science that is very difficult to master. I would argue that most marketers struggle with it, and very few actually nail it. It’s that hard.
In this new series on Entrepreneur.com, we will de-construct the elusive concept of positioning by breaking it into bite-size pieces so that we can make it real, tangible and applicable to your business and brand.
But first, a definition. What exactly is positioning?
Aside from being one of the hardest concepts to grasp, it’s also one of the most misunderstood and the most difficult to define.
In its simplest of forms, positioning is how you want your customers to feel about your brand. It’s the emotional space you want to occupy in your customer’s mind.
If positioning is how you want customers to feel about your brand when they think of it, then it’s marketing’s job to keep your brand top of mind. Hence the natural relationship between positioning and marketing.
Positioning should be inherently based on emotions -- it’s how you want people to feel about your brand. It’s not necessarily rational at all.
It’s not what your brand does, it’s not a claim and it’s not a product feature. It’s the high-order emotional benefit you bring to people’s lives. Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs here.
If you are trying to figure out a brand’s positioning, there is a clue that can lead you in the right direction: the tagline.
Now the tagline isn’t really the positioning either, but it’s often a creative articulation of it. Here are a few examples based on my interpretation of these brands’ positioning statements as shown in their taglines:
Nike: Just do it.
- Positioning: Propels me to my athletic best.
L’Oreal: Because you’re worth it.
- Positioning: Builds my self-esteem and self-worth.
BMW: The ultimate driving machine.
- Positioning: Allows me to exert my power and control.
Each of these examples shows the emotional qualities of the brand, and what it delivers for its customer. Each puts its customer first, and gives them something to feel, be it personal performance, self-esteem or power.
Notice that the positioning statements don’t talk about types of fabrics, scientific ingredients or engine components -- those features are left for product marketing communications.
These statements reflect how the brand wants you to feel when you engage: empowered, confident, in control. The details of how it delivers come after the positioning statement.
These brands want you to feel something about them, because it’s the emotion you will remember. It’s the emotion that gets you to engage. It’s the emotion that positions the brand in your mind. The product features merely provide the rational side of the equation.
The question lurking in your head is probably this: How do I write a positioning statement for my business and brand?
Exactly! That’s what this series will be all about -- stay tuned.