In 2020, the market is crowded. Which market? All of them, folks. These days, there’s very little wiggle room for new companies unless they’ve come up with something wildly, dramatically different from everyone else. So unless you’re Elon Musk, chances are you’re competing with scores of similar brands who are all focused on the same share of the same market… yours.
How do you stand out? What will help you rise above and become the go-to when your target audience is in the mood to spend a little of their hard-earned cash? Well, you could innovate like crazy and come up with the next iPhone (good luck with that). Or, you could spend some time working on your brand positioning.
What is brand positioning?
Are you into Starbucks, or Second Cup? Apple, or Android? Subway, or Quiznos?
For some of us, answers to those questions don’t take a second of thought. We’re loyal to specific brands because they resonate with us for particular reasons. We can immediately decide to grab a Starbucks, buy the latest iPhone instead of Android, or stop by Mr. Sub for lunch (on the off chance you’re Canadian and proud of it).
But those preferences don’t just come out of nowhere. They’ve been carefully engineered by branding folks who work hard to plant images in their customer’s minds.
It’s called brand positioning, and it’s exactly what you should be doing in your own company.
According to The Branding Journal, an online journal that simply will not stop writing about branding, effective brand positioning is “the extent to which a brand is perceived as favorable, different, and credible in consumers’ minds.”
In other words, to successfully stand out in your market, your customers need to:
- Like you more than anyone else;
- Feel like you’re unique; and
- Believe in what you do.
If you can accomplish all these things, you can safely say that you’ve created a strong brand position. And there’s more than a few ways to do this.
Brand positioning strategies
Getting your company on the map isn’t easy, especially if your market is particularly competitive. By adopting one of the following brand positioning strategies you can make life a little easier – both for yourself, and your customers.
This is where you simply spend oodles of cash on marketing campaigns and attempt to win your customers over in the ‘credibility’ department. Basically, by being ever-present in their world, you seem like the market leader and therefore the most reliable option.
You see this strategy in crowded markets where competition is especially fierce. The camera market, for example, has Nikon and Canon pitted against each other in a heated battle to win market share. They don’t do this by being overly innovative or appealing to a specific type of person. Instead, they simply try to be in the most ads, sponsor the best photographers, and host better photography events than one another.
If you have a mountain of cash and can afford to outspend your competition, this may be a good strategy for you. If you can pull it off, you’ll be extremely hard to beat in the future.
Often, we don’t have access to a limitless marketing budget and have to make do with the dollars allocated to us in the last finance meeting. In that case, you’ll want to be a little more tactical with your brand positioning strategy.
By niching down, or, focusing on a very specific segment of your market -- you can beat your competitors by becoming that segment’s preferred brand. Here, you’re mainly focusing on the uniqueness of your product; you’re helping customers see you as wholly different than the alternatives.
You see this a lot in markets that appeal to a wide variety of people, each with distinct personalities and habits. For example, the beer market is insanely crowded and full of well-established brands with massive marketing budgets. To stand out, Michelob Ultra targets the health-conscious consumer and focuses 100% of their marketing on that particular niche. Instead of trying to sell to every sud-sipping Sam and Susie, they chose to corner a specific section of the market and completely dominate it.
Move the Goalposts
The third strategy attempts to make your brand more favorable in your customers’ eyes. You do this, by finding a completely new way to define your market. You essentially take a hard look at all the so-called benefits being championed by your competition and say, “Nah… that’s dumb.”
Tesla is a fantastic example of this. Instead of droning on about their battery life like every other company, they did something different. They created a car that was unlike anything else in their market. Faster, better designed, self-driving, the Tesla is an electric car that simply has better battery life as an afterthought. They aren’t trying to compete along the same old standards as the rest of their market. Instead, they moved the goalposts and redefined what “best” means for their entire industry.u
Hopefully at least one of these brand strategies struck you as being feasible for your own brand. However, it takes a lot of work to go from, “hey let’s niche down”, to creating a strong, identifiable brand position that edges out your competition.
Need some concrete steps on how to get started? We’ve put together an easy, six-step guide to creating a strong brand position in your market.
If you need help, let us know.
At Flying Saucer, we’ve got a whole team of branding nerds who love getting their hands dirty and helping our clients build better brands. Of course, there’s always those who like doing things themselves. For you, we suggest getting started with any of the following:
- The Ultimate Startup Guide to Brand Awareness
- 10 Keys Ingredients for Your Brand Strategy Secret Sauce
- How Much Should You Spend on Branding?
Best of luck, and if you’d ever like a hand crushing your competition with creativity – we’re always here.