Strategy

Positioning

Crafting a position statement that’s both concise and precise is a pivotal step in branding.

Can you verbalize, without hesitation and in a very few words, what separates you from the rest of the pack? And if so, can you also specify exactly who needs or wants what you have to offer?

THE POWER OF POSITIONING

Positioning is about being competitive, but not necessarily comparative. While we must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors, we shouldn’t design a strategy based on comparing our brand to theirs.

The challenge is to identify an opportunity: a specific void or need in the marketplace that you can own and exploit.

Ideally, the void or need should be one that your target audiences either already perceive or will quickly recognize, rather than a “new” category that you must invent and then work overtime to market. It’s far easier and more effective to market a solution to a familiar problem than to sell someone something they never asked for.

What is a position statement?

Formal position statements can be a mouthful. And they’re not easy to write. But once we’ve described and honed your position, you’ll have a firm foundation on which to base subsequent branding and marketing decisions. Without a clear position, everything is up for endless debate and subject to personal whims.

To paraphrase David Ogilvy, who pioneered the concept in the 1950s, positioning describes what your offering is or does and who it is for. That’s an oversimplification, but a useful one.

Not everyone agrees on how a position statement should be written. You’re likely to stumble on a variety of formulas, each with several blanks that must be filled. We tend to prefer a more rigorous structure for a position statement—one that demands greater specificity and has more blanks to fill.

Some people confuse “position” with “messaging” or even “copywriting”—as though positioning was somehow equivalent to writing a tagline or a slogan. But it’s more prudent to develop your position as a confidential strategy statement, for internal use only.

Positioning is a necessary precursor to messaging, which in turn is the first step toward crafting public communications.