Brand positioning is all about creating value by differentiating yourself from competitors. It defines how you’ll be perceived in your customer’s minds, which means that you need to decide how you want to be perceived before you start positioning your brand.
How well your brand is positioned will determine the value that customers place on you, which means before anything else, you need to know your audience and the expectations they have for you. Your brand value ‘sweet spot’ is between what your customers expect from you, and what you do that your competitors don’t.
Sources of differentiation
Differentiation comes from a whole range of places, but the main ones you’ll see in the market are these:
An obvious one, but coming into the market with lower prices is an easy way to turn heads. Most startups will be hesitant to go down this road however, as it cuts into their already thin margins.
What do you know that your competitors don’t? What can you do for consumers that they can’t? If you can work that out, you can capitalise on it and draw in customers with your specialities.
Does your product or service have some new and exciting technology? if it does, don’t be afraid to show it off. As the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Value & purpose
Do your values and purpose align with your customers’ values in a way that your competitor’s don’t? People love to align themselves with movements and causes, so if you care about the same things as your audience, it can make you seem a lot more attractive.
Offering a unique brand experience, something memorable or never before seen, will immediately set you apart from your competitors.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but offering even minor improvements to existing products will hugely increase the value of your brand in the eyes of consumers and make your competitors’ products look relatively antiquated.
Opportunities for differentiation
Positioning and differentiation opportunities can come from a whole range of places so you should be constantly on the lookout for new ways to set yourself apart:
- Complaints and reviews ‘ listen to your feedback, both good and bad, and see if your customers have identified any positioning opportunities for you!
- Market changes ‘ If a competitor drops out of the market, capitalise on it and see if you can fit your brand into their niche to acquire some of their customers.
- Regulatory change ‘ Presenting yourself as fully compliant to new government regulations is a great way of standing out as trustworthy.
- Innovation ‘ Keep an eye on your industry and the advancements in technology going on around you. If you can be the first to integrate an exciting new bit of tech into your product, your perceived value will skyrocket.
The important disclaimer with all of this is that you shouldn’t strive to be different just for the sake of being different. It’s important that everything you do to improve your startup brand positioning is targeted at providing benefits to your audience and meeting their expectations and desires. Remember, it’s them who define your brand value, not you.