Wednesday , 23 April 2014
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Brand positioning: an overview

brand positioningBrand positioning is a strategist’s bread and butter. This is what a large amount of our working life will be spent doing and is the most important aspect of brand management.

Brand positioning is an intriguing mix of art & science

Just to preface the post… you will find the Strat-Talking Brand Positioning Model Template at the end of this post.

Defining a brand’s positioning is all about understanding a business’ capabilities, understanding customer needs, understanding the competitive market place and socio-economic factors that may underline attitudes towards making purchasing decisions.

Once all of these aspects of the brand’s world are understood, the job is to then craft intriguing and compelling responses to the specific customer needs that our brand (or our client’s brand) can deliver on, always with an eye on future growth opportunities. Starting with in-depth research into consumer behaviour is one of the best marketing strategies there is. It’s more than worth the time.

My typical methodology includes in-depth research including…

Really get under the skin of the target (and potential target) customers by asking targeted questions including:

What do they love about the brand?
What do they hate about the brand?
What are their needs?
Why would they consider this product?
What do they think it lacks?
What are their perceptions of the competitive set?
What makes them tick?
… and many more.

Understanding the competitor set

Who is innovating?
Who are the leaders?
Who are the new kids on the block?
What are they doing differently?
Who are the design-leaders?
What are they doing to invigorate and engage with their customer base?
… and more.

Trend analysis

What is happening in the world to affect our purchasing habits?
What demographics are starting to evolve into new territories?
Are people cutting their spending?
Where are the opportunities?
What are people thinking?

Business capabilities

What our the core competencies of the brand and business?
What is the scope for change?
Is this an innovator, follower or also ran?
What are the heritage stories we can leverage?
Are there any production stories or founder stories?

All of this should, once synthesised, provide the information to build a brand positioning that answers the rational and emotional needs of consumers through rational and emotional brand messaging and clever design.

Core components to then flesh out are:

The brand essence – what is the ‘big idea’ behind the brand?
The brand promise – what is our raison d’être?
The brand personality – how do we speak? How do we act?
The target customer – who exactly are we looking to speak to? Ideally this is a first person narrative
The tangible brand benefits – what will the customer see, feel, taste?
The intangible brand benefits – what are the brand stories we are looking to tell?

The goal of any brand positioning should be to:

Be unique
Be aspirational yet achievable
Be understandable
Be ownable
Be timeless
Be extendable

So, without further adieu, here is the Strat-Talking Brand Positioning Model for you to download and use at will:


What brands do you see doing this well? Are there any brands in need of redoing their brand positioning?

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: or follow on Twitter @StratTalking