Positioning selection: Is there an ideal positioning for your brand?

Positioning selection: Is there an ideal positioning for your brand?
What is the best positioning for…?” That is the question we are perhaps asked the most. Choosing a positioning is usually very difficult for most brands. Whether it’s a beer brand or a law firm, they are often looking for the best positioning. A positioning that will make their brand successful right away and orders will come pouring in.

Unfortunately, that positioning does not exist. (Or fortunately in our case because then we would not have a reason to exist as positioning experts.)

Whether a positioning is successful is determined by a multitude of factors; organizational culture, ambition, objectives, product, market, competition. And those are the first ones that come to mind, there are many more. The positioning should actually be able to seamlessly fit across all factors. Why? Because people need coherence to develop a preference for your brand.

Positioning is not a mask

positionering kiezen, geen masker op doenBrands that switch positioning as if it’s putting on and taking off a mask are never successful. If a brand speaks of market leadership and quality one moment but the lowest price the next, the target audience becomes confused. What am I actually buying from this brand?

A synonym for mask is ‘counterfeit face’. How much do you trust a conversation partner wearing a mask?

The opposite of a mask is ‘sincerity’ or ‘exposure’, and we are convinced that these are good tools for brands. A positioning must be sincere, consistent with the identity of and behind the brand, before it creates distinctive value. A brand like Apple embodied ‘Think Different’ at the time of Steve Jobs. Not because the company used it as a slogan in commercials, but because the entire organization felt called and challenged to think differently. That led to unique products and marketing and ultimately to one of the most successful companies in the world.

The feasibility of a positioning

A positioning is therefore only to a very limited extent ‘feasible’. Many factors that determine the optimal positioning for a brand are not easy to change. In the right positioning for a brand, for example, ambition or dream has an important place, but factors such as corporate culture or market may be equally important.

Such factors determine the framework for positioning: the lines within which you have to draw. Your vision or goal then helps you choose a positioning that fits within that framework.

Brands, therefore, have less influence on their positioning than they often would like.

Influence of corporate culture on positioning

People are the most important factor for almost all brands in terms of positioning. Especially in a B2B environment, people give your brand (literally) a face, and the relationship is built with them. Your people are the most important brand representatives. The behavior of these people is mainly determined by the corporate culture; the norms, values, and mores of the company. Does a new positioning require a change in behavior? Then you must bring about a cultural change.

bedrijfscultuur bepaalt kader positionering

Corporate culture is usually an important part of the framework for your positioning.

There are few change trajectories as complex as a cultural change, and the chance of failure is therefore high. Although precise figures are lacking, nobody in the market is surprised by a 70-80% chance of failure.

In practice, we always advise clients to choose a positioning that fits or is close to the current corporate culture.

The role of market and competition in choosing positioning

When positioning, it’s all about taking a unique position in the consumer’s mind. Who is fighting with you for that position? That’s right, the competition. Therefore, the competition determines to a large extent which positioning is still distinctive in your market.

Let me give you an example. The Netherlands has both Triodos Bank (green) and ASN Bank (socially responsible). How much room is there for a third social bank? Perhaps it is better to build a positioning around a different theme.

We use the competition matrix to map out the market in terms of positioning.

How to select the right positioning

positionering kiezen

Elon Musk built his Tesla around a vision: a world where people choose to drive electric cars. With this, he attracted investors, employees, and his first customers. He made it easy to choose Tesla if you believed in his vision of tomorrow.

What would have happened if Mercedes-Benz and Ford were already working hard on a good electric car?

Exactly, the positioning of Tesla would have been less distinctive, and it would have been questionable whether the company would have been successful.

Determining the right positioning for your brand is more than just choosing the right mask. For example, go through the 10 steps in our positioning plan to first arrive at the right framework before determining the positioning of your brand.

Do you want to learn more about positioning and how to get started 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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