What Is a Brand Positioning Statement?

Competitive swimmers devote a substantial amount of time perfecting their form and technique and for good reason. Extraneous kicks, unnecessary breaths, and flailing strokes always result in slower finish times and wasted effort. Energy is vital for speed and endurance.

I like to compare brand positioning to a swimmer’s focus on technique. Brand positioning refers to the articulation of the functional and emotional benefits a client or customer will realize by using a business’s products or services. A brand positioning statement explains why the business’s products or services are superior in helping its audience reach their goals and what makes the brand special. Any new initiative, product, or communication tactic should conform to and support the confirmed position; otherwise, it is a wasted effort.

A solid brand positioning statement should be written in client-friendly language but should not be public facing. Instead, it should act as a shared internal vision that informs and guides the business’s communications strategy going forward. Clients or customers should perceive the positioning statement in their experience of the business’s brand, products, or services.

Parts of a Brand Positioning Statement

A brand positioning statement is composed of four parts:

  1. The target: A description of the targeted consumers.
  2. A frame of reference: A description of the target’s goal that will be served by the brand. This often means identifying the brand category.
  3. The point of difference: An assertion regarding why the brand is superior to the alternatives in the frame of reference.
  4. Reasons to believe: Supporting evidence for claims related to the frame of reference and the point of difference.

Each word must be selected carefully so that there is no superfluous language. If possible, the statement should be one long sentence. As an example, I’ll continue with the swimming metaphor to write a brand positioning statement for Speedo:

To the competitive swimmer who is looking to shave seconds off their record time (target), Speedo performance swimwear is superior to other athletic apparel brands (frame of reference) because each garment is specifically designed to maximize individual athletic achievement by using proprietary, state-of-the-art technology (point of difference) in order to promote optimal hydrodynamic motion and reduced friction in water, which is why the brand has been trusted by more Olympic gold medalists in the sport’s history (reasons to believe).

Simply put, a brand positioning statement is an enduring vision for the business, providing focus, structure, and form to the intangible perceptions by the consumer.

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