How To Write A Positioning Statement.

Ever wonder why hours-for-dollars sites are full of talented creatives who are all racing to the bottom?

IN BRANDING  |  BY BRUCE WHITE

Simple. It's because, without a real, defensible, and unique positioning, the lowest price wins.

 

And, instead of becoming trusted, valued partners to the businesses they work with, by remaining dedicated to executing “fast and cheap,"  these creatives are digging their own professional grave.

 

Writing your positioning statement will test your understanding of your client AND your brand.

 

You will need a deep understanding of your brand values and personality as well as an understanding of the tone and voice used.

 

With that in place, you will wrap all those elements in with your clients’ needs, wants, fears and desires to produce a positioning statement that describes exactly how you provide value, who you provide value to and why.

But first, let's be clear on what Positioning is not. ​

Positioning is not the Positioning Statement. 

 

This is where most “branding” suppliers go wrong. They have an exercise to write out a Positioning statement.

 

Sometimes it’s based in the reality of the brand, sometimes they just look for the coolest way to say something and then convince themselves it’s a unique positioning.

 

Positioning is everything you’ve done in your brand development up until now and everything you will do from now on.

 

I know you’ve heard this before but, it’s what makes you different.

 

And, that’s not just a statement written out and posted on a wall somewhere.

 

Even if you stick it on the front page of your website (which I don’t recommend) your market only reads it once, if that, because it’s not saying anything.

 

Your positioning is based on your behavior. 

 

Once you’ve uncovered what makes you different, what makes this brand tick, the way you “Position” yourself in the market as that is through living it.

 

The longer you behave as this brand, consistently and confidently, the stronger this positioning will become. 

 

Quite simply, you’ll become known for who you are as a brand — for better of for worse — and you’ll be naturally “Positioned” as that in the process.

 

So, with that said, why do we develop any sort of Positioning statement?

 

It’s a reminder. It’s a decision-making filter. It’s an internal-facing asset that the team uses until it’s no longer necessary.

 

You will use this in your on-boarding, you’ll use it for yourselves if things are going wrong and you want to trace the root of the problem, you’ll basically use this, along with all the other brand elements we’ve created here, to ensure you stay — on brand!

 

But, if you haven't defined your Positioning yet. Don't bother with the statement.

 

I want to show you a simple formula for writing a powerful positioning statement. ​

This is part 1 in our Positioning Statement Series. Find Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

 

How to write a Positioning Statement.

 

We get a lot of emails and questions about how to make this effective because — many people now understand that your Brand Positioning is one of the most important assets your business can have.

 

Positioning can take several forms, but the main purpose of positioning is to supply a reason to buy, — a difference that will give the customer a reason to pay attention. 

 

It’s how you differentiate a brand in the mind of the customer. 

 

Your Positioning must be unique, and not something anyone else in your market is saying. 

 

This is where your Brand Personality, Differentiation, and Value Proposition will come in.

 

To create this Positioning Statement, you’ll test your understanding of your brand because we’ll be referencing your brand’s tone and voice, and style. 

 

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to put in those areas, though, I’ll give you some free options to develop those at the end. 

 

This Positioning Statement construction associates your brand attributes in with your clients’ needs, wants, fears and desires to produce a Positioning statement that describes exactly how you provide value, — who you provide value to and why.

 

PRO TIP:

Here’s the simple formula for putting this together

[Brand Name] provides [what you do] to [customer type(s)] in a [voice] and [voice] environment while helping them feel [feel] and giving them [impact].

It's the message, not the construction, that's important. ​

Sounds pretty complete, right? It is.

 

In fact, even if you don’t explore the Onliness Statement and Elevator Pitch versions, this Positioning in strong enough to launch a business off.

 

Don’t get too focused on the construction and order of this, either, the message is what’s important. 

 

And this should actually be pretty easy if you have your Brand Attributes defined.

 

Here’s what it looks like as an example. This is for a self-storage facility:

 

[Brand Name] provides [Storage Solutions] to [Local Communities] in a [Warm], [Professional], and [Friendly] environment, while helping them [Feel Secure] and giving them [Peace of Mind].

So, where do you start if this doesn't make sense yet?

Like it or not, by virtue of simply existing, your brand will make your audience feel something.

 

So, you want to be clear on what you want that something to be.

 

The first thing you should ask yourself, from the perspective of the audience, which of the following statements do you want your clients to feel:

  1. Like they care about people like me.
  2. Like they are making a positive difference in the world.
  3. Like they get me.
  4. Like the company is run by people like me.
  5. Special.
  6. Excited about the future.
  7. More confident.
  8. True to myself.
  9. Like a better person.
  10. Like laughing and having a sense of humor.
  11. Connected to my family or friends.
  12. Pampered.
  13. Better about something I’m worried about.
  14. Like they care about my family.

You can't just choose all of these, your brand would be schizophrenic! Try to get this down to no more than five total choices.

 

So, that’s how you want them to feel when they think of you. 

 

Now, you want to know how you have to behave in order to reinforce that position. 

 

This is an exercise from the brand’s perspective. Ask yourself, "what message do we want our audience to receive from our communications and behavior?"

  1. We are the same: Our brand reassures our audience that they are the same as us. We provide a sense of belonging and togetherness.
  2. You can be me: Our personality represents everything our audience aspires to be. Through alignment with our brand, our audience feels like they have arrived at their idea of success.
  3. I can guide you: Our personality represents safety, like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. We need to acknowledge the situation but reassure them we know the path to safety. We are trustworthy and steadfast.
  4. You can be great: Our personality inspires our audience to believe in themselves so they can achieve what they want in life. Our communication and personality is motivating.

In some cases, you’ll be behaving as an example, in others, a guide, and in others, a motivator.

 

So, take some time to think about your number one choice.

The one time you want to compare.

Once you have a handle on how you want your audience to perceive your position, it's time to look at the competition.

 

But, to be clear, we never look to the competition for inspiration or direction. We look to the competition for missed opportunity and points of differentiation. 

 

We take a little different approach to competitive positioning than you’re probably used to seeing in all the “expert” blogs and articles.

 

First, you need to understand that competition is bigger than just the most visible competitive companies. 

 

Our audience is not just asking which of a certain group of companies are the best choice, they’re asking themselves something bigger.

 

They’re seeing what’s wrong with their reality and asking how to fix it.

 

So, instead of approaching "competition" as our competitors, we want to approach competition as competing against what’s wrong in our audience’s lives - and by extension, what’s wrong in their world.

 

Try asking, “What do I stand against? What pisses me off about my industry?” 

 

What do you hate about your industry that you want to improve on? 

 

What do others do in your industry that you think you can do better?  (This will possibly be related to your purpose (in the negative)).

 

So, asking yourself, "What am I against?" can give you a much clearer picture of what separates you from the competition and how to channel those beliefs into your like-minded audience.

 

Knowing this is going to help you develop a following and build trust in your brand when you can communicate this. People who share your values will see it as a rallying cry.

 

So, try brainstorming ideas for what the brand stands against. 

 

Here’s an example: A lean and agile agency like ours might call out, “big, bloated agencies who rely on busy work to pad hourly billings.”

 

And, it doesn't have to be people you’re against. It could even be global or economic forces that are pushing your clients to need you in the first place. 

Think Be different.

Next, you want to uncover your brand’s X Factor, which is what is making you different than everybody else is out there.

 

This could be single words, like “compassionate,” or “creative,” or “energetic,” think of things like your personality traits and whether anything there is different to your marketplace in general.

 

This could also be complete phrases like, “we complete the project in one third of the time our competitors do.,” 

 

Again, think of what’s different about what you do compared to the market.

 

So, just brainstorm what you think is different about your brand compared to the marketplace in general or even compared to specific competitors.

 

On your first pass, write down everything you think of. On pass number two, whittle it down to the 3-5 strongest. And, finally, decide on the number 1.

 

And, don’t worry, if you don’t come up with a specific service-based, culture-based, or mission-based differentiator, you can assemble your differentiator from a series of attributes.

Now, give it another shot.

Now, you've done some research and made some decisions, you should have a much better foundation to attempt your Positioning statement.

 

As before, don’t get too focused on the construction and order, the message is what’s important. 

 

[Brand Name] provides [what you do] to [customer type(s)] in a [voice] and [voice] environment while helping them feel [feel] and giving them [impact].

 

Don’t overthink this. Get something written and tweak it as your business evolves.

 

I hope that's been helpful and you feel confident in moving forward and trying your own Positioning statement now.

 

If you have any questions, why not join me in my private Facebook group for the Brand Sprint Academy. I'm in there often and, I'd love to connect and continue helping out.

WANT AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE TO BRAND POSITIONING?

Claim Your Free Positioning Guide Today

This FREE guide breaks down a detailed, step-by-step process for Positioning your Brand as The Choice instead of A Choice


Share On:

Bruce White

Bruce White is a brand strategist, sprint trainer, entrepreneur, and educator dedicated to elevating the perception of value of the creative industry. He writes about business & branding for creatives as well as techniques for facilitating client sprints and dealing with client consulting as an introvert.