Brand Positioning Strategies

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In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies operate in markets that are fragmented and flooded with offerings. Creating a significant differential advantage over a competitor is a task that even strong brands face. But how does one achieve such an advantage? Marketing managers and advertisers aspire to achieve such an advantage for their brand and do so by implementing a sound brand positioning strategy.

Brand positioning seeks to make a unique place in the minds of the target market by appropriately designing the company’s offerings and image. In general, rightly positioning a brand would lead to the creation of a value proposition that would appeal to the needs of the target market. It motivates consumers to buy the product or avail the services offered by the brand.

To better understand brand positioning, it is essential to make a distinction between intended, actual and perceived positioning. As the name suggests, intended positioning is how a company intends to be perceived by the target market. Actual positioning is the positioning information actually presented to the target market. It refers to how the intended positioning is executed and is done through various marketing communication tools, but predominantly through advertising. Finally, consumers may make their own conclusions about the brand based ontheir perceptions of the actual positioning and this is called perceived positioning.

A company may choose to position its brand based on different positional bases. These bases can be categorised as concrete brand positioning bases and abstract brand positioning bases. Concrete brand positioning bases are more related to the product itself, whereas abstract positioning bases are related to the indirect benefits to the consumers and their values. Most company’s brands fall under one dominant positional base, however, it is possible for the brand positioning strategy to comprise of a set of positional bases.

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Branding is about creating a message, making sure you audience perceives it the way you want to and remaining consistent with a voice or tone of communication - the brand manual is your guideline for the task ahead of you.

Types of Positioning Strategies

  • Features – The product features are emphasised in this strategy. These are the tangible features of the product and it is a quantitative base for positioning. It can also be said that the features that are highlighted are often specific to a product category.
  • Abstract – These are intangible attributes and can be used in a wide range of product categories. Examples of abstract positioning bases are quality, innovativeness, style etc. It doesn’t matter what the company is selling. It could be high-end computers or chocolates, but both products can be based on the positional base of quality.
  • Direct – The functional benefits of the brand are highlighted. In this positional strategy, the advantages of the usage of the brand are showcased. Examples of direct positioning bases are durability, reliability, convenience etc.
  • Indirect benefits – These are the benefits that arise indirectly due to the use of the product. Their use is for symbolic means. For example, a luxury car manufacturer might use expressions ‘Own the Road’ or ‘Respect Guaranteed’. This positional strategy aims to build around the delivery of a social-image benefit to the consumer.Onida employed this strategy when they used the caption ‘Neighbour’s Envy, Owners Pride’
  • Surrogate positioning – This is a strategy that allows the consumer to come up with their individual conclusions and refers to the intangible aspects of the brand. Employing a statement like ‘For People who are still Young at Heart’ would fit into this positioning strategy.

Consumers’ preferences are expected to be shaped by brand positioning and itis the key to building consumer loyalty. Building a great brand requires an immeasurable amount of work and brand positioning is a very important task for marketers. The reason being, it has consumers’ perceptions and choice as its central feature. However, exercising prudence in its implementation should be the most important rule, because if it is not done correctly, it also has the potential to be the downfall of a brand.

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