4 Aspects of a strong positioning

4 Aspects of a strong positioning
What aspects make a positioning truly strong? Fortunately, we no longer need to convince anyone that a strong brand is built on the foundation of a unique positioning. Therefore, we share four questions that provide depth and better results when positioning. Each question is based on one of the 4 positioning aspects: purpose, emotion, consistency, and flexibility. We discuss each aspect using appealing examples and brands, and provide some additional examples for inspiration for each aspect.

Positioning aspects: Purpose

positionering aspecten voor een ijzersterke positionering

Brands make big promises, but is that still enough in a highly competitive market? In the past, success was achieved with a well-thought-out promise. Think of car rental company Avis, they promised: “We try harder” and that served them well for 50 years. But why did Avis try harder than market leader Hertz? For what purpose, other than earning more money? In 2012, Avis abandoned the “we try harder” message.

Brands with a “purpose” are often more successful, and their positioning is often clearer. Employees better understand why they go to work every day, as they contribute to “the purpose”. And let’s be honest, which brand would you rather give your money to? A brand that exists solely to present better numbers each year, or a brand that tries to achieve something else alongside making money? A strong positioning ensures that the brand’s purpose is crystal clear.

Examples of brands with ambitious goals:

  • Ikea: “to create a better everyday life for as many people as possible”
  • Dove: “to contribute to a world where beauty is a source of confidence instead of anxiety”
  • Philips: “to improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2025”
  • Lego: “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”

Positioning aspect: Emotion

Even the most rational buyer is influenced by it; emotion. Brands that reach their customers on an emotional level are more successful. People want to build relationships and once they have them, they want to maintain them. Therefore, a good positioning also evokes emotions.

positionering aspect emotie: citroënWho doesn’t know the longtime Citroën driver? Somewhere along the way, he fell in love with the brand, maybe during the first car ride with grandpa. He forgot that when grandpa started his DS, they had to wait a minute because the air suspension still had to be pumped up. Is Citroën today the most innovative or reliable car maker? Probably not. And maybe that’s their strength because it gives loyal fans something to share. Citroën drivers have a clear ‘tribe’ and that evokes powerful emotions.

Examples of emotional brands

  • Harley Davidson: Harley Owners Group, a community of and for fans of this brand.
  • Patek Philippe: You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.

Positioning aspects: Consistency

When a customer is confused, the competition is lurking. A customer who cannot understand a message or action becomes confused, and from confusion comes doubt. Therefore, ensure that the consistent thread or line in your positioning is clear and stick to it in everything. Avoid expressions, actions, or behavior that does not fit the brand you are building. A successful positioning requires consistency, ensuring the “feast of recognition.”


Picture taken by Jim Bauer

There is a brand that excels in this: Red Bull. Every campaign or message is full of adrenaline, speed, and excitement. How strange would it be if Red Bull suddenly embraced the world chess championship. Or not? What would Red Bull’s world chess championship look like? As the grandmasters play their game while sitting in the back seat of a Dakar car speeding through the desert.

Voorbeelden van consistente merken

  • Coca-Cola: every message is about happiness
  • Douwe Egberts: a timeless coffee brand that represents typical Dutch (family) habits
  • Starbucks: a welcome third place
  • Nike: With “just do it!”, they have been saying for years that there is an athlete in all of us.

Positioning aspect: Flexibility

“Flexibility”?! You just talked about consistency, isn’t that contradictory?

positionering aspecten: flexibiliteit

Dance party, modern interpretation of the classic ball

We recently saw a modern adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”. The ball where the future lovers meet was replaced by a dance party. For us, a nice example where the core (positioning) of the story remains the same while the form moves with the times. A powerful positioning is therefore flexible enough to move with the times and changing market conditions.

Google is the prime example of flexibility. Think, for example, of the Google doodles, funny or surprising adaptations to their logo to honor famous artists, pioneers or scientists. What other brand is so free with their logo? Google has a good understanding of the core of their positioning, so much so that they have a lot of freedom around it. “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” has been at the center of their brand since its inception. But it has enough room to also include Gmail and Maps under the Google brand. Who knows what the next way of presenting information will be.

Examples of flexible brands

  • Old Spice: The “swagger” campaign was the epitome of flexibility. The brand that had kept its classic line and logo unchanged since 1934 was able to appeal to a new, much younger audience.
  • Tesla: CEO Elon Musk’s 10-year plan provides insight into the positioning of the car brand, which is not about passenger cars but personal mobility.

A checklist for positioning?

The above list is probably not directly usable as a checklist when developing a new positioning. Unfortunately. But it is an excellent measuring stick for its implementation! Ask the team the following questions;

  • What goal does this positioning reveal?
  • Does this positioning emotionally engage people?
  • What is the core of this positioning that we must hold on to at all costs?
  • Where is the room for creativity, topicality, and keeping up with the times in this positioning?
  • Do you want to know more about positioning and how to get started with it yourself?

Do you want to know more about positioning and how to get started with it yourself? Read our Positioning page and find in-depth articles, as well as dozens of examples and models for every possible positioning challenge.

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