Branding: Positioning Your Brand to Stand Out

by Agency 33 Account Executive Danielle Ford

An integral part to having smoothly running, cohesive PR, marketing, and advertising campaigns is a solid brand. However, a brand is more than just your core values, logo, and copy – once you have that, how do you relate your brand to your audience in a way that captivates and draws them in?

This is where brand positioning comes in. Brand positioning is not about your brand as much as how, in the landscape of your industry, your brand relates to your competitors in the minds of your prospects. 

Ask yourself: what benefit your brand can own in the minds of your audience, that differentiates you from your competitors?

A few common brand positioning strategies are:

1. Own an attribute

“The brand that is…”

Pick an attribute your brand has that other brands in your industry don’t. For example, Verizon owned “superior coverage” with their “Can you hear me now?” campaign. When Zappos started out, they were the first web-based shoe seller, and as such could position themselves as the “largest selection of shoes” because their inventory couldn’t be matched their brick and mortar competitors. 

2. Appeal to a Target Audience

“The brand for…”

Pick a target audience, highlight the best and most desirable aspects of that group, and appeal to your audience’s sense of belonging in that group. Apple’s “I’m a Mac you’re a PC” commercials illustrates this perfectly – the Apple guy being young, well-dressed, contrasted with a geeky actor in glasses and ill-fitting khakis playing the PC guy. Anytime you see a luxury brand advertising with an incredibly well-groomed, good looking man or woman in designer clothes, stepping out of a luxury car to sip champagne, that is identity appeal at work. The idea is “I want to belong to x group, and product y will help get me there.”

3. Be the leader

“#1 brand in…”

Be THE leader in your industry. This could be as simple as being the biggest company in terms of size or employees…or it could be because you’re the company most integrated in your community in your city. The most important thing is that if you are branding yourself as a leader, you have to start doing leader-y things: speaking at events, publishing articles, participating in community events, etc.

4. Be the maverick

A move that is the reverse of being the leader, but at times can be just as effective. This often involves reverse positioning the leader in your industry as over-large, unwieldy, bureaucratic, and out-of-touch with the customer base. Consider Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, which casts Microsoft as dowdy and behind, or many politicians who campaign on being a “Washington outsider” free of the lobbyist bias and complacence.

There are many other ways to position your brand. What matters is that you differentiate your company in a superlative way. 

Read our previous post The Agency 33 Value Proposition

Content adapted from ‘Breakthrough Branding’ by Catherine Kaputa