Brand Positioning

What is Brand Positioning ?

By brand positioning, a company tries to design its products and offerings in the market in such a manner that it enjoys a distinct position in the minds of the consumer. The kind of differentiation that the product is able to achieve takes care of the competition and the kind of value proposition that it offers, induces and motivates the customer to try the product of the company. 

For example, Kitkat is a substitute for a snack and it is something that the consumer can have whenever he feels like having it. It is very important for the brand to stand for something and thus be associated with certain values and images. In other words, it must be perceived to be valuable, credible, different from others and be thought suitable for the desired benefit.

To create a sustainable and winning brand strategy, the company must be able to develop a distinct positioning for its brands. Generally, two references are associated with brand positioning, i.e., horizontal and vertical inferences. Horizontal inferences include the association of different qualities and features to the product so as to make it unique in the minds of customers. By vertical inference it is meant that where the brand stands in the list of all competitive brands in the minds of the consumers. The desired competitive position in the target market determines the nature of positioning used for the brand.

Definition of Brand Positioning

According to Aaker :
"Brand positioning a part of brand identity and value proposition that is to be actively communicated to the target audience, and that demonstrate an advantage over competing brands".

Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning Strategies 

The positioning strategy of the firm aims at creating a differentiation for its brands within the value parameters that the firm wants to create for its customers. The intense competition that exists in all product categories is the reason for the need of competitive positioning. Due to competitive pressures, majority of similar products are available in the market and firms lose their individual brand identity. Positioning strategy tries to create a differentiation for the products of the company and allows it to occupy a unique position in the minds of its consumers.

Positioning looks at the brand from various perspectives. Effective positioning strategies can be devised by answering four questions about the brand. These four questions are :
  • Who am I ? 
  • What am I ? 
  • For whom am I ?  
  • Why me ? 
These are described below : 

1) Who am I : 
By answering this question the identity of the brand is revealed. It seeks to capture the aspects like origin, pedigree or class of the brand. It seeks to identify the roots of the brand and how it has evolved. This can be a source of strength as well as competitive advantage for the brand. This can be done in two ways :

i) Positioning by Corporate Identity : 
In this type of positioning. the brand associates itself with a renowned corporate identity so as to use its competitive position in the market. Thus, many firms like Samsung, LG and Philips brand their products with their corporate brand so that the strength of the brand gets reflected in individual product lines. In other cases the company may launch a different brand but will reinforce the brand credentials with statements like 'From the house of.....' or 'A quality product of.....' So that the credentials of the brand are established. HLL also employs this strategy by mentioning 'A quality product of HLL'. This evokes perceptions of quality and trust in the minds of customers.

ii) Positioning by Brand Endorsement : 
In this type of positioning, a particular brand of a corporate identity is used as endorser of the new brand or product. 
For example, Lifebuoy brand (parent brand HUL) is used to position different new products like Lifebuoy Hand wash, Lifebuoy Soaps, etc.

2) What am I : 
In this category of positioning the functional attributes of the brand are used to generate positioning options. This can be done in four ways :

i) Category Positioning : 
This is employed when the brand comes out of the category in which it is currently located and is given a distinctly different category. This is done so that the brand comes out of the clutter and becomes different from others. 
For example, a cycle brand can be positioned in health and fitness category as cycle category is full of giant players.

ii) Benefit Positioning : 
Products are a bundle of benefits. In benefit positioning, a unique benefit is chosen which is not contested in the market. This type of positioning can therefore be done, if the brand occupies a benefit segment which is distinctly different from everyone else and which the company can offer successfully. The strength of the positioning will depend on how the target segment perceives and what kind of value it attaches to it relative to other benefits. 
For example, Listerine owns the medicated mouthwash segment because it offers this benefit better than other competitors.

iii) Usage and Use Time Positioning : 
The brand can also position itself by associating itself with a usage pattern or a particular use time. 
For example, After-bath cream positions itself as a cream which has to be used after bath. A particular usage and use time is selected, by the marketer for the product. Different prevalent competitors and their positioning strategies are also analysed so as to determine the perceptions of the target customers.

iv) Price-Quality Positioning : 
A brand may also differentiate itself from other brands by occupying a unique position on the price quality spectrum. The market comprises of different segments like 'economy' (Nirma and Breeze) which reflects both low quality and low price) and 'top end' which is high in terms of both quality and price (Surf Excel and Ariel). Dove is a soap which caters to the premium of top end position of the soap market in India.

3) For Whom am I : 
In this type of positioning, different aspects of the target market and its customers are utilized to position the brand. A particular target market is segmented by the marketers into different segments. Each segment has unique characteristics and product requirements. In this positioning, a particular segment of the market is focused-on for positioning the brand. Different segments of the target market are as follows : 

i) Demographic Groups : 
The market can be segmented using demographic variables like age, income, education, gender, etc. MTV is a music channel that focuses specifically on the youth. Similarly, Cafe Coffee day targets the young and the affluent segment in the society.

ii) Behavioral : 
The markets can also be classified based on usage volume and pattern. Light, medium and heavy user segments are available in any target market Any type of user segment can be selected by the marketers for positioning their brand. 
For example, brands like Rath Vanaspati are positioned for heavy user segment, i.e. professional caterers.

iii) Psycho-graphic : 
The psycho-graphic positioning aims at positioning the brand based on the psychological attributes of the population. This utilizes positioning based on the beliefs, attitudes, opinions or traits of the population. 
For example, Pepsi positions itself as the drink for the "next generation".

4) Why Me : 
This style of positioning looks for a unique feature in the brand which is not there with anyone else. Finding unique attribute(s) of the brand is the crucial process of this type of positioning. This can be done in two ways :

i) Unique Attribute : 
The brand may have a unique benefit or attribute which can be used as a positioning strategy. 
For example, Huawei launched Honor 7i smartphone which used its unique feature of rotating camera for its positioning.

ii) Competitive Positioning : 
In this the brand is directly compared to the competition and areas of superiority are identified and explained. 
For example, Vasmol hair color oil used this strategy to position itself in the market.