Picture this: You’re preparing to launch your new product. You’ve likely spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, even years determining what sets the product apart from the competition and developing your brand identity.
But how can you ensure your marketing efforts are aligned with the brand? Branding plays an essential role in a business’ development and consistent brand presentation increases revenue up to 23%. When consumers visit your company website, view an ad, or check out your Twitter page, each piece of content should clearly communicate the business’ core values and brand.
What is a positioning statement?
A positioning statement is a brief description of a product or service and target market, and how the product or service fills a particular need of the target market. It’s meant to be used as an internal tool to align marketing efforts with the brand and value proposition.
Positioning statements are used to describe how your product or service fills a need of your target market or persona. They’re a must-have for any positioning strategy and create a clear vision for brand positioning.
What is the purpose of a positioning statement?
The positioning statement acts as a way to convey the value proposition to the brand’s ideal customers while calling out the brand’s identity, purpose, and distinguishing features.
To craft your positioning statement, you’ll need to get crystal clear on these aspects of your business:
- Who you serve
- What you offer them
- How you offer it
- Why you do what you do
- How this compares to what’s already out there
Positioning Statement vs. Mission Statement
Your mission or vision identifies the goals or objectives of the brand and can be a valuable part of positioning as a whole. However, the positioning statement is something else altogether.
Unlike a mission statement or vision statement, a positioning statement is not a public-facing tagline. At its core, it’s broader than that, summarizing the value proposition, mission, and other positioning factors in a clear and concise way.
Value Proposition vs. Positioning Statement
The value proposition and positioning statement are both key elements in a business’ marketing strategy, however, there are differences between these two. A value proposition is describes what sets your product or service apart from competitors. It gives a big picture overview of the benefits a product or service provides.
Positioning statements are broader, and they’re created after you’ve developed your business’ value proposition. It also identifies the primary customer benefits and points of competitive differentiation.
The Core Elements of Strategic Market Positioning
As mentioned earlier in the article, if you want to craft your positioning statement, you must first have a good understanding of your positioning as a whole. This includes defining the following core elements:
- Target market
- Market category
- Customer pains
- Brand promise
- Brand identity and values
Your target audience is the “who” aspect of your positioning. Simply defined, it’s the group of consumers you’re targeting with your product or services.
They say that “the riches are in the niches,” which comes down to the idea that, even if anyone can use your product or service, you should still be targeting specific buyers so that your messaging can resonate.
One of the best ways to define a solid target audience is by thinking through it in terms of a “buyer persona” or ideal customer.
A market is comprised of buyers and sellers, and a category defines a specific segment of that market. In essence, it where you’re competing with other providers for the share of the category’s buyers.
Whether your market category is developed and robust or you’re part of an emerging market or need, you’ll need to define who the buyers are in the space, where they’re searching for goods and services, and who currently has their attention. You’ll want to define what your competition offers and how you can position your brand against that competition.
Customer pains are the problems or issues your target audience is experiencing. Your product or service will aim to address a customer pain and provide a solution.
Your brand promise is ultimately what the target audience or buyer persona stands to gain from using your product or service; it’s what success looks like to them if their pain or problem is resolved in a way that’s satisfying to them.
Brand identity is the personality of your business and includes both visible factors (such as logo design) and less visible ones (such as values or voice). Brand identity is one aspect that will set you apart from competitors and help you gain recognition from your target audience.
Values are the “how you do it” aspect of your brand and serve to create the culture of your organization and leave an impression with your target audience. They are the intangible methods with which you execute your mission and vision.
Your mission is the “why you do it” aspect of your brand. Your mission encompasses your organization’s goals, objectives, and approach.
Once you have a solid understanding of identity and positioning, you can pivot to crafting the positioning statement itself.
How to write a positioning statement
- Keep it brief.
- Make it unique and memorable.
- Remain true to your business’ core values.
- Include a credible promise of what the brand delivers to consumers.
- Communicate how your business is different from the competition.
- Keep it clear enough for use as a guideline to evaluate whether or not business decisions align with the brand.
Before you get started writing, make sure you’ve developed your business’ value proposition. You’ll want to identify your target audience, their pain points, and how your product can fit their needs.
What’s the promise your brand provides customers? And how will your business deliver on that promise? This is the time to identify aspects of your product or service that are the primary differentiators from the competition.
Once you have a clear vision of the value your offering provides, it’s time to create the positioning statement.
When writing and evaluating your positioning statement, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Keep it brief.
Your brand’s positioning statement should be concise and to the point. Aim for no more than three to five sentences, if possible.
2. Make it unique and memorable.
This statement should be unique to your company and the problems you aim to solve. When crafting your positioning statement, be sure to emphasize the distinctive qualities of your brand.
3. Remain true to your business’ core values.
Your brand’s positioning statement should accurately reflect the core values of your business.
4. Include a credible promise of what the brand delivers to consumers.
Who does your company serve? How does your company serve this group? Clearly state who your customer is and how you help them in your positioning statement.
5. Communicate how your business is different from the competition.
An effective positioning statement should articulate what differentiates a brand from its competition. Highlight your company’s unique qualities and how those qualities help serve your customers.
6. Keep it clear enough for use as a guideline to evaluate whether or not business decisions align with the brand.
In almost any circumstance, your team should be able to align key business decisions with your brand’s positioning statement.
The positioning statement shouldn’t be stagnant — make sure your statement provides room for growth as your business matures and products change.
Positioning Statement Template
For [your target market] who [target market need], [your brand name] provides [main benefit that differentiates your offering from competitors] because [reason why target market should believe your differentiation statement.]
The template above can be used to help you form a positioning statement for your startup or small business. Plug in the details of your target market, company, and the main points that make your product or service stand out from competitors. Each business is unique, and it’s alright if your statement doesn’t fit the template exactly, but be sure to include the main points.
- A description of the target market.
- A description of the target market needs.
- How your business will meet their needs.
- What differentiates your product or service from the competition.
- Why consumers in your target market should believe your brand’s claims.
Positioning Statement Examples
Since positioning statements are meant to be kept from the public eye, I created example statements for real companies with recognizable brands and clear brand positioning.
HubSpot Positioning Statement:
Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 68,800 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better.
Coca-Cola Positioning Statement:
For individuals looking for high-quality beverages, Coca-Cola offers a wide range of the most refreshing options — each creates a positive experience for customers when they enjoy a Coca-Cola brand drink. Unlike other beverage options, Coca-Cola products inspire happiness and make a positive difference in customers’ lives, and the brand is intensely focused on the needs of consumers and customers.
White Dog Distilling Positioning Statement:
White Dog Distilling was founded in 2016 by the husband/wife team of Carlo and Alecia Catucci based on [passion, spirit, and the journey from grain to glass]. Bolstered by Carlo’s background in physics and Alecia’s culinary and product development experience, they set forth with one goal in mind: to produce high quality distilled spirits that could appeal to both novice spirit drinkers and longtime aficionados alike.
4. Alaska Airlines
Source: Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines Positioning Statement:
We are creating an airline people love. Each day, we are guided by our core values of own safety, do the right thing, be kind-hearted, deliver performance, and be remarkable at work and in our communities. Alaska Airlines also fosters a diverse and inclusive culture and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Source: Organic Bath Co.
Organic Bath Co. Positioning Statement:
We know that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in it — so we’ve created an award-winning bath and body line using only organic and natural ingredients that are safe, effective and easy to use. Our products are an invitation to slow down and indulge a bit.
Source: Giphy, Amazon
Amazon Positioning Statement:
For consumers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery, Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site. Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence.
IMPACT’s Positioning Statement:
At IMPACT, we have revolutionized the way inbound marketing is done and taught to businesses by reimagining the agency-client relationship through the ground-breaking principles of They Ask, You Answer.
Instead of creating a cycle of dependency, wherein our clients are reliant upon us to move the needle and get results, we empower all of the companies we work with to take ownership of their digital sales and marketing. Instead of fishing for you, we’ll “teach you how to fish” and feast on remarkable results for a lifetime.
With a wide range of consulting services — content marketing, video sales and marketing, HubSpot, website strategy and design, and more —find out how we can help you achieve incredible results by becoming the most trusted voice in your space.
Beautycounter Positioning Statement:
One by one, we are leading a movement to a future where all beauty is clean beauty. We are powered by people, and our collective mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. Formulate, advocate, and educate—that’s our motto for creating products that truly perform while holding ourselves to unparalleled standards of safety. Why? It’s really this simple: beauty should be good for you.
Nike Positioning Statement:
For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Its products are the most advanced in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike’s commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.
10. Thrive Market
Thrive Market Positioning Statement:
Thrive Market is an online, membership-based market making the highest quality, healthy and sustainable products available for every budget, lifestyle, and geography.
Apple Positioning Statement:
For individuals who want the best personal computer or mobile device, Apple leads the technology industry with the most innovative products. Apple emphasizes technological research and advancement and takes an innovative approach to business best practices — it considers the impact our products and processes have on its customers and the planet.
McDonald’s Positioning Statement:
For individuals looking for a quick service restaurant with an exceptional customer experience, McDonald’s is a leader in the fast food industry, with its friendly service and consistency across thousands of convenient locations. McDonald’s’ dedication to improving operations and customer satisfaction sets it apart from other fast food restaurants
Each of these companies target a broad range of consumers and in some cases it can be a good idea to create separate statements for each segment you’re targeting. Once your positioning statement (or statements) are fully developed, it’s time to begin marketing your brand and developing a consistent message across all platforms and throughout your sales process.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.