Positioning is the space the brand occupies in the minds of its audience. It is based on understanding the expectations and perceptions of the recipients. It is a strategic foundation designed to be shared throughout the company and ensures that the brand vision is consistent across the organization and for each of its touch points.

In the definition of positioning, it is necessary to take into account that it is oriented to satisfy the expectations and needs of customers, so the definition must be able to answer the question “What is in it for me?” on the part of the customer.

Brand positioning must be built from the gaps generated between internal analysis (Brand Essentials: values, benefits, and differentiators) and external analysis (trends, market, context, customers, and competitors).

Thanks to positioning we can establish the personality traits of a brand, its architecture, and all the elements that make up its verbal identity (naming, tagline, voice, tone, style…), its visual identity (logo, visual universe, brand system, brandbooks, primary and general applications…) and its sensory identity (sound, olfactory and auditory).

The definition of brand positioning, therefore, translates into a construction of meanings in the mind of the audience. After knowing its essence and defining how it wants to position itself (identity), the brand must communicate, demonstrate, and make this statement tangible at all points of contact. It must go from a simple statement of intent to a mantra that guides the brand’s daily activity.

The gap that occurs between what the brand says it is and what the audience ends up considering it to be depends on the consistency of the brand’s actions. The more complex the positioning and the more incongruent its implementation, the more difficulties the organization will encounter in building its brand.

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Key factors for the definition of brand positioning

There is no perfect positioning model and it can hardly be exclusive over time. Each alternative will have its constraints, advantages, and disadvantages. It is therefore a matter of choosing the one that best suits the brand’s current situation and its medium/long-term business vision.

However, to facilitate this choice, we must look at 6 key factors to be taken into account to be as effective as possible in defining it.

A brand positioning must be relevant, credible, achievable, sustainable, differential, and focused:

1. Relevant

The positioning must take into account the needs of the priority stakeholders previously analyzed. Let’s not forget that brands are born to be useful and to satisfy needs and desires.

Visa continually invests in products and services to create the easiest, most secure, and innovative transaction experiences. Maintaining the tagline ‘It’s everywhere you want to be’ since 1988, Visa claims to record more than 40 million electronic payments per day between consumers, businesses, and European countries, with global acceptance in over 400 countries.

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If the positioning covers what the brand knows it is and wants to become but does not take into account what the audience demands, it will hardly be effective.

This is the case in the new film installment of the world-famous Ghostbusters. The trailer of the film has entered the ranking of the most hated videos in the history of YouTube. Fans have spoken and, without going into the arguments of these critics, the result of the preview has influenced the collective imagination. One of the possible reasons for this impact, as indicated in the news website Unocero after analyzing the statements of Melissa McCarthy, starring, and Paul Feig, director, may have been to present this film as a reboot and not as what it is: a new installment, different from everything that came before.

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On the contrary, if the positioning perfectly reflects the needs of the market but differs from the essence, values, benefits, and differentiators of the organization, the brand will mutate and generate a different perception.

To analyze the relevance of a positioning I recommend using the Johari Window.

2. Credible

Positioning has to provide functional and emotional credibility for priority stakeholders. Brands must be authentic and sensible from the very definition of their essence.

Pepeenergy was born with a manifesto under its arm in which they claim to want to become the “first energy company in which there will be no confidential information”. Considering that it is Pepephone’s electricity company, one of the operators best rated by consumers according to an OCU survey, and the one that has been best able to translate corporate transparency, we can venture that its objective is plausible. The company publishes every day on its website all electricity purchases made at cost price in the wholesale market and has already snatched 5,000 customers from the electricity companies. No one knows if at some point they will suffer some kind of crisis and/or reputational blowout, but the brand is sure of it and this is reflected in its manifesto: “We will see what happens. For the moment it is an experiment. If it goes well, we will have a good time. If it goes wrong, it won’t be serious”.

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3. Reachable

The positioning must not only be a credible promise, but the brand must be confident that it can deliver on it sooner or later.

Tesla seeks to lead an electric revolution and replace current automobiles with electric vehicles. Its goal is to improve the world through its non-polluting cars… and then some.

The brand’s strategy goes through several phases (officially laid out by Elon Musk, Tesla Co-Founder & CEO):

1. Build a sports car.

2. Use that money to manufacture an affordable one.

3. Use that money to manufacture an even more affordable one.

4. While this is happening, provide energy alternatives with zero emissions.

Tactics such as the release of its patents, so that any manufacturer can develop its car based on the technology of its Model S, the construction of a gigafactory in Nevada that will would enable it to manufacture its lithium-ion batteries.in partnership with Panasonic, without having to rely on an outside supplier (where they are already capable of producing batteries for the supply of more than 500,000 Tesla Model S every year) or the installation of Superchargers, where Tesla owners can recharge their vehicles for free show that their positioning is more than achievable.

As indicated in diariomotor.com “Tesla is designing the perfect scenario, not only for us to buy their cars, but for their technology to be in our home, and our car, whether it is called Tesla or not”. It is likely, and it is not unreasonable to think that Tesla will end up among the big players in the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon). According to an MIT study, it is already considered the most disruptive company in the world.

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4. Sustainable

Positioning should enable the brand to achieve a substantial advantage for as long as possible.

Mud Jeans is a Dutch ethical and sustainable fashion brand founded in 2008 that sells jeans, T-shirts, shirts, sweaters, and shorts. The brand has created an original, innovative, and revolutionary leasing method based on the circular economy (a movement that is being led by the Netherlands) which it has called “Lease A Jeans”. It offers its customers the option of renting their jeans for one year with several advantages: you can exchange your jeans for new ones, repair them, keep them, or return them after use. If the latter option is chosen, and the jeans are still in good condition, they can be repaired and offered as second-hand pants. If, on the other hand, it is in poor condition, it is shredded and the fibers are used to make a new garment.

With this concept Mud Jeans aims to prove that a circular economy in the fashion industry is possible, and to promote a new form of consumption. It is a pioneering brand and will therefore be able to maintain its position for a long time.

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5. Differential

Positioning must truly differentiate the brand from competitors. It should be as unique and genuine as possible. It occupies a new place in a broad market.

The story of Leicester City, the “modest” soccer team that won the Premier League for the first time, is a great example of how to achieve a unique positioning. It has become a “global phenomenon that starts in a modest, multicultural city with no soccer tradition” as Pablo Guimón points out in El País. “It was struggling to find its identity. It didn’t even have the status of the city’s main sports institution on its own,” says Guimón.

Leicester City have managed to position themselves as the team of second chances: the people’s champion.

The club (which had just been promoted to the “English second division”) was bought in 2010 by Vichai Raksriaksorn, a Thai tycoon who owns the King Power International consortium. “When we bought Leicester City, many people asked me why we didn’t buy a Premiership club and my answer was that it didn’t represent a challenge for me.” said Raksriaksorn. In 2013 they fell just short of promotion due to a dramatic last-minute goal but in 2014, even reaching a record points tally for the category, they managed to move up to the Premier League. Curiously, during that first year in the top flight, the team spent the entire season in the relegation places, managing to save itself in the last few rounds. At the end of the season, Leicester became embroiled in a media scandal (photos and videos of a prostitute spree involving three players, including the son of then manager Nigel Pearson, were leaked). It was that second year in the first division when the club took a radical turn. It renounces to sign stars and hires a coach just fired in another team and is also being quite questioned (a lot of curriculum but few sporting successes): Claudio Ranieri.

Leicester City wins the 15/16 league, becoming a true social and economic revolution, achieving the 13th position in the ranking of the clubs with the highest brand value in the world, according to the Brand Finance report.

“We are a small club that shows the world what can be achieved with spirit and determination. Our story is important because we give hope to all the young players who have ever been told they were not good enough,” said the coach. It is like that. You just have to know the players’ background: Vardy (star striker), who at 16 was told he could never be a great striker because of his height, was a troubled boy, persecuted by justice, who combined soccer with a job in a factory; the other star, Mahrez, came from the modest French Le Havre; Simpson (fullback) was discarded by Manchester United, Newcastle and loaned to a Belgian second division; Albrighton, Huth, Drinkwater, Schmeichel suffered the same fate…

Let’s remember that it is not a club with few resources: it would be a rich club in any other league in Europe. Nor is it the first team of those not considered big in England to win the Premiership (Nottingham Forest did it in 1978, Blackburn in 1995…). However, its positioning has been forged thanks to a unique and differential history. It has generated a perception in the minds of the audience that will be difficult to change.

This is what their scarves communicate: “El Campeón de la Gente”/ “The People’s Champions”.

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6. Focused

Positioning should focus on a clear promise of benefits, values, and differentiators.

Let’s take an example and reflect on it. According to the First Report on Gender, Age, and Brand Value in Spain, the soft drinks sector is considered male and with a perceived age of 30 (yes, brands also have gender and age). Interestingly, Trina is seen as the only female in the sector. It is also considered the sixth most feminine and third youngest brand in all sectors.

Trina is currently using “Frutagonistas” in its communication to focus on families, fun (“pass it fruit”), and plans with the little ones. Let’s remember that “naturalness” has been and continues to be one of the benefits and differentiators of the brand.

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And they have always wanted to demonstrate this naturalness:

Therefore, knowing the brand perception already built among Spanish consumers (Trina is considered female and young) and its current communication actions (especially in social networks) we could intuit, in the first instance, that there is not a big gap between identity and image and that it has a focused positioning.

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Consistency:

To think, to want, to say, to demonstrate… and to position.

If a brand positioning does not pass through the key filters, a mismatch between brand identity and brand image is possible. It is in response to this need to control this gap that branding consultants come in, true managers of coherence.

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Ruben Gonzalez-Roman Quignon

Brand Consultant at Branward®

Fotos: Shutterstock, Visa, Vulture, El Economista, Forococheseléctricos, Daily Mail.co.uk,