Imagine the business world without competition. Nothing that stands in a way of consumers choosing some other brand over yours.
Now let’s get back to reality. There’s probably no company in the whole wide world that is so lucky to experience that. Standing out from your competitors is not something that comes naturally, and more often than not, you have to work hard to achieve it.
One of the ways to do it is to focus your marketing efforts on spreading a clear and concise message about your brand. To make sure the team is on the same page, companies create and follow positioning statements.
In this post, you’ll learn what it is, how to write a positioning statement, and go through some examples from famous brands for a better understanding and inspiration.
What is a positioning statement?
A positioning statement defines how your brand meets the particular needs of a customer and why it does so better than your competitors.
The main goal of a positioning statement is to highlight the strengths of a specific business, bring out its unique personality, and build the communication on the basis of this information.
Doing it successfully means that your customers will perceive your company as you want it to be perceived, resulting in stronger connections and better overall results.
Why does your business need a positioning statement?
- Help to create a unique brand identity.
- Allow you to clearly communicate the benefits that customers will receive and the problems your product or services will help to solve.
- Help marketers craft messages focused on the right audience.
- Help to identify your competition and highlight the key reasons why your product can be the better choice.
What positioning statements are not?
When you first start building the foundation for a strong brand image, you might suddenly find yourself lost in the terminology. Mission statement, vision, value proposition, taglines…
How are they different from a positioning statement and how to get your head around all of them?
Here’s a quick explanation.
- A mission statement explains what you do – it’s usually a one-sentence bio that clearly states the purpose of your company.
- Vision defines your company’s aspirations and goals.
- Value proposition explains why you bring more value than your competitors.
- A tagline is a catchy phrase or a slogan used mostly for advertising purposes.
Positioning statement vs. value proposition
Now, what you might be wondering is if a positioning statement tells how a brand meets a particular need better than competitors and value proposition states… exactly the same, what’s the difference between these two?
A value proposition is a bigger term clearly focused on the functional and emotional benefits of products or services. Those are usually linked to specific features and feelings that the product evokes.
Meanwhile, the positioning statement is mostly for internal use and customers might not even know that it exists. It’s used to keep the team and marketing efforts in sync in order to create a consistent brand image, and advantages over the competition are an important part of it.
Put simply, a value proposition is what your customers will get when choosing your company, and a positioning statement is what image you want your customers to have of your brand.
Key focus points of a good brand positioning statement
The positioning statement revolves around 3 key elements – audience, competitors, and the differentiator.
- Audience: who do you target with your messages and what do they expect/want.
- Competitors: who are they, what are they doing, why, how, and how well.
- The differentiator: a unique selling point that distinguishes you from the competition.
Once you have figured out who the people you will be talking to are, what other choices do they have, and how you can make their lives easier with your products, you can move forward to the next part - actually writing a positioning statement.
How to write a positioning statement?
At this point, you should already have at least some basic idea of what you want to say with your brand positioning statement. What’s left is to take a deeper look into specifics, fill in the gaps of the positioning statement framework, and put it all together into a concise paragraph.
Here’s how to do it.
List the elements of a positioning statement
Listing the key elements of a positioning statement will help you to clearly see what it consists of. Therefore, you will be able to focus on each of them individually which will allow you to be more accurate and definite.
5 elements that you must have answers to before writing a positioning statement:
- Your target audience (e.g. stay-at-home moms, small business owners, professional athletes)
- Your market (e.g. athletic wear, luxury watches, fast food industry)
- Your points of differentiation/benefits – explain what problems you can solve and how.
- End benefit – the advantage consumers get from using your product.
- Your evidence – state how you live up to the expectations and why to choose you over the competition.
Write answers to each of the elements
Now that you have the list of elements, turn each of them into a brief and easy-to-understand sentence.
The key here is to keep it simple. Not only will this come in handy at the next step when connecting these sentences, but being concise will also help you to state what's really important, without the fluff.
Use a positioning statement formula to connect your sentences
Once you define each element individually, it’s time to bring them together into one, coherent paragraph.
To do that, you can use the following template:
For [target audience], [brand name] is the [your market] that delivers [your points of differentiation], so they can [end benefit] because [your evidence].
Let's take the Coca-Cola positioning statement, for instance:
Note: Looking at various brand positioning statement examples, you’ll notice that this formula isn’t universal or the only one to follow. It’s just one of the options that can help you craft an effective positioning statement. If you want, you can adjust it to your liking and needs – just make sure to include all of the 5 core elements into your statement.
Best practices for writing a positioning statement
Start from the value proposition
We've already established that the value proposition is all about your competitive advantage. It's a very brief summary of the reasons why a customer should choose you over your competition. Writing a value proposition first will make it easier for you to highlight your strengths and the key benefits later when writing your positioning statement, as it's a piece of core information to focus your brand communication on.
Adjust your positioning statement to your brand personality
As simple as that – don’t try to be anyone you’re not. A positioning statement is not a part of some official document that must be written in an official tone. If your brand is cheerful, colorful, and fun – show it, and use it to spread cheer to your audience.
Write more than one positioning statement, if needed
This might be beneficial if you run multiple stores focused on different customers, for example. You might have to speak in a different tone or state different benefits. In this case, writing more than one positioning statement can make sense as you have to leverage your focus to several target audiences.
It’s easy to overpromise – yet it can easily backfire later. Don’t be afraid to state what you can really do best, yet make sure you can keep the promises that you list in your positioning statement. Honesty always comes a long way!
And once again – keep it simple
Make it easy to understand and follow – it will help everyone in your team to make business decisions easier if they don’t struggle to get what you really meant with your positioning statement.
7 brand positioning statement examples for inspiration
1. Amazon positioning statement
Amazon clearly defines its audience as online shoppers who are looking for an easy way to purchase goods. You can immediately understand that the company operates in the retail e-commerce market, offers a “one-stop” shopping experience, followed by one of the benefits - quick delivery.
As evidence, Amazon states its obsession for customers, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence, which imply that the end benefit for the customer should be exactly what Amazon promises in this positioning statement.
2. Nike positioning statement
Nike specializes in sports apparel, therefore, the company’s target audience is athletes who are looking for high-quality, fashionable athletic wear.
As points of differentiation, Nike highlights highest quality materials and most advanced products. The reasons behind this are Nike’s commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies, which results in top-performing sports apparel and shoes (end benefit).
3. Apple positioning statement
Apple targets individuals looking for the TOP quality computers and mobile devices. The company identifies itself as a leader in the technology industry, offering the most innovative products (end benefit).
As points of differentiation, Apple highlights technological research and implementation of the best business practices and their effect on customers and the planet.
4. McDonald’s positioning statement
McDonald’s is oriented towards clients who seek quick-service but also positive experiences. The restaurant operates in the fast-food industry and highlights its friendly service across multiple (thousands!) of locations.
Customers can expect consistency no matter where they eat, and as evidence, McDonald’s states its dedication to improving operations and customer satisfaction.
5. Airbnb positioning statement
Airbnb is a booking website that focuses on local and international travelers, as it clearly describes in its positioning statement.
The company highlights the largest selection of top-rated and most diverse places to stay, and promises unique and personalized experiences all over the world.
Why is this positioning statement good? It’s straight to the point and clearly answers the question why would anyone want to choose Airbnb services for their next trip.
6. Disney positioning statement
Disney’s target audience is literally everyone (young and young-at-heart) who is interested in all the fun themes parks can offer.
Disney positioning statement highlights that only the Walt Disney World can “connect you to the characters and worlds you most desire”, leading to an immersive and magical experience as a result.
7. Nikon positioning statement
Nikon’s target audience is digital photographers and videographers, mostly creating visual material professionally and keen on sharing their point of view with others.
The company highlights its experience in the industry (“100-year history”) and the development of new technology that lead to “deeper connections” and “experiences in their purest form” (end benefit).
Ready to craft your positioning statement?
A clear positioning statement will ensure you’re sending the right message to the right people, which is utterly important in today’s competitive e-commerce business environment. It will give a direction to your marketing efforts, help to develop a consistent brand image, keep your team in sync, and bring potential customers closer.
Have you gone through all this already? Share what you’ve found the most difficult in the comments section below!