If you had just 15 seconds to tell a potential customer what your brand is all about, would you:
- Start listing off products and services you sell?
- Tell them broadly what your company does? Or,
- Have a statement ready that truly captures the essence of how you want your brand to be perceived?
The correct answer is C. Because chances are, a lot of other companies do something similar to yours and likely sell similar products.
Your brand identity and your unique value propositions are what prospects care about. By going through the trouble of summarizing those in a brand positioning statement, you can make sure that your company’s differentiating values are always on the tip of your tongue.
What is a brand positioning statement?
Think of it simply as a succinct statement that differentiates your brand from the competition.
Sometimes called a unique selling proposition – this statement tells your target market (customers, potential customers):
- What your brand does.
- Who it does it for (e.g., your target market).
- Your differentiating values.
- The outcomes of those differentiating values.
This is not the same as a mission statement, which articulates the collective goal of an organization.
A simple way to think of the difference between them is that a brand positioning statement asserts your brand identity. A mission statement summarizes a company goal and is typically workforce-facing.
Here’s an example of a mission statement:
And here is a brand positioning statement example:
Amazon’s mission statement clearly targets the employee or the potential employee. Thrive Market’s brand positioning statement is more relevant to a customer or a potential customer.
How to create a brand positioning statement
Start your brainstorming by answering 4 questions:
- What does your brand do?
- Who does it do it for (e.g., who is your target market)?
- What are its differentiating values?
- What are the outcomes of those differentiating values?
Then, turn those answers into a succinct statement using language that reflects your brand personality.
Sort of. As you craft your answers into a statement, you also have to:
- Be succinct: 3 or 4 memorable sentences are a lot more impactful than a long manifesto.
Eschew obfuscationKeep it simple. No crazy long sentences or crazy-big words.
- Use your voice: Your style, tone and diction should reflect your brand personality.
- Focus on positives: This isn’t a brand promise to subtract pain points; it’s a promise to add value.
In the end, you should be left with a concise statement of your value proposition that is broad enough to guide the many types of branding decisions you’ll have to make but specific enough that it’s unique to your organization.
It might take some work to get your positioning statement just right.
And if it helps, here’s a brand positioning statement formula, courtesy of HubSpot:
“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.]”
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend sticking rigidly to this formula – it’s your brand after all. Rather, you can use it to help get certain words down on the page.
Do you actually need a brand positioning statement?
But you do need a positioning strategy. That means you need to answer all the questions that we said go into a brand positioning statement somewhere on your site.
More importantly, your branding – and your brand story – should factor into your marketing strategy and every piece of content you create.
In other words, you don’t absolutely need a tagline or a single, declarative paragraph that highlights your branding position, as long as your values, your competitive advantage and your differentiator(s) as a company are made abundantly clear on your website and implicitly conveyed in your messaging.
To keep that messaging consistent across all of your channels, you’ll almost certainly need internal-facing documentation and branding guidelines that inform your marketing materials.
Either way, I rarely look for a company’s “official” brand positioning statement before giving them my business. I am, however, very mindful of a brand’s values and its position on issues that matter to me. And those can – and should – be communicated in more than just a single declarative, all-encompassing statement.
But again, if you can distill those values into such a statement, you’ll have a much easier time articulating your brand identity.
The bottom line: Brand positioning is a practice, not a statement
We all intuitively know that saying something doesn’t necessarily make it so.
The same is true for your brand positioning statement.
A brand personality is not achieved through a three-sentence declaration; it’s achieved through a sustained effort to be a company that repeatedly demonstrates its values for its audiences, employees and customers.
Take as many sentences as you need.