Components of positioning, what does a positioning consist of?

Components of positioning, what does a positioning consist of?
What exactly is a positioning? We have written a lot about the concept, but what is the end result of ‘positioning’ exactly? In practice, it is often an extensive report with the positioning as the end result. This is what we focus on in this article, because what are the components of a positioning exactly? What we usually mean by the positioning story, but we also discuss the components that come before and after.

The positioning is often a benchmark for marketing and communication. By that, we mean that a brand can use the positioning to determine what behavior best suits the (desired) position of the brand in the market. But the same applies to the rest of the organization. If you were to take it to the extreme, the positioning could also be leading for departments such as production, although there may need to be a translation involved. We briefly discuss the components of a clear and concrete positioning.

Components of Positioning

The positioning should be applied as broadly as possible. Therefore, not only do you develop the positioning story, but a complete positioning document covers the following components:

  • Positioning Concept
  • Positioning Pitch
  • Positioning Story
  • Value Proposition
  • Core Values

We will discuss each component separately:

Positioning Concept

positionering conceptThe Positioning Concept is the positioning story reduced to its absolute essence: a statement that encapsulates the core of the positioning.

In some cases, this is a tagline or slogan, such as;

  • Just do it (Nike)
  • Everything for a smile (Coolblue)
  • Gives you wings (Red Bull)

But it can also be a high-concept pitch, a sentence Hollywood uses to pitch movies. For example, Speed was greenlit with the pitch: “Die Hard on a bus,” and Alien was made because of “Jaws on a spaceship”.

With a high-concept pitch, we immediately understand what is meant and can also think further. LinkedIn was pitched as “Facebook for business,” and a designer can probably immediately form an idea about the form and style.

At the same time, the positioning concept is also a good anchor, the sentence that both colleagues and partners can return to when they think, “What was the positioning again?”.

Positioning Pitch

The Positioning Pitch is the short, memorable story that introduces your brand to a potential customer in a few minutes.

This pitch contains the core of your positioning and tells:

  • What you do
  • For whom
  • How you do it
  • Who you are

The most common pitfall is that you end up not telling a story but rather reciting dry phrases that are as generic as they are forgettable.


We like to tell the story of penguins:

How penguins stand on an iceberg as a group, making it impossible to tell them apart. How they all do the same thing; if one jumps into the water, the rest will follow. And companies are just like penguins: they imitate each other and are therefore not very distinctive. Markedness helps brands avoid being a penguin.

Where “positioning and marketing experts” are easily forgotten, we often hear months later, “Hey, aren’t you guys the penguin people?”!

Positioning story

The positioning story is the complete elaboration of your positioning. This story provides the internal organization with actionable perspective (“What behavior fits our positioning?”) while also telling customers what to expect when they come into contact with the brand.

In the positioning story, we further elaborate on the Positioning Pitch, preferably to a maximum of one A4 page. More is difficult to remember, less and not everything will be covered. In the positioning story, the most important aspects of the Pitch are elaborated into paragraphs. By giving a slightly broader or deeper attention to each topic, it is better retained and offers more actionable perspective.

The main challenge is not to get bogged down in an operational manual. The positioning story should tell about the world, mindset, and ambitions of the brand without being too specific. Do we use “you” or “we”? People should be able to extract that themselves from the positioning, not from a manual.

Value Proposition

A transactional statement that summarizes why a customer should prefer a specific product or service over all competitors and alternatives.

We have previously discussed the difference between positioning and proposition, but the core is that the value proposition (partially) arises from positioning. Because positioning in large lines tells ‘how your brand does business’, that is also the first approach for the proposition presented to customers. The proposition is the concrete, general offer that a brand makes to its customers.

An architectural firm could consider various propositions;

  • Award-winning design solid design
  • Low construction costs
  • Optimal use of space

The world’s largest (by revenue) architecture firm Aecom

The value proposition is often characterized by focus: Which aspect do you highlight above all others?

The optimal proposition is therefore a logical consequence for the customer of the entire positioning. Think of Coolblue, for them service is paramount, isn’t it logical that they are not the cheapest?

Core values and positioning

Core values are often clichés. Many companies mainly choose generic concepts such as quality, customer-oriented or innovative as their core values. But let’s be honest, which company says the opposite? It may be logical that no company markets products that are easily broken, does not listen to its customers, and is not innovative.

Interestingly enough, you can probably think of a company that embodies this, but are those their core values?

In short, core values are often misunderstood. How can you use core values correctly?

Like the proposition, you distill core values from the positioning. The goal is to provide direction. A colleague or even a customer uses core values as a starting point for both thinking and doing. They provide guidance when a decision needs to be made. For example, if a company has the core value of ‘informal’, what behavior fits with that? I think everyone’s answer to this is quite similar. That is the goal of core values.

Further considerations

  • Not all words have the same meaning in every role. What a word means for production may have a completely different impact for sales. Therefore, consider whether the core values (of thinking and behavior) may be different for each department.
  • The core values ‘remind’ of the positioning, the words are not an end in themselves.
  • People are made to remember stories. It is not for nothing that we tell fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel when we want to make something clear to children. The positioning is much better suited as a guide for thinking and doing.

In conclusion

The end result is of course different for each company, as is the path to get there. In this article, we attempt to present the different components necessary for a practical usable positioning. If you have paid attention to these components, you will certainly be well-prepared.

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 any possible positioning challenge.

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