Positioning or Branding?
In order for customers to understand why they should buy specific products and/or services from your company, you need to make your added value clear to them. In other words – you need to create a clear
differentiation between what you provide and what your competitors provide.
There are two main ways to create differentiation:
1. Positioning – Acquiring “ownership” over a positive benefit in the customer’s mind. For example: Mercedes=prestige
2. Branding – Developing a recognized and in-demand brand. For example: Harley Davidson is a coveted motorcycle.
Positioning is a simpler and more efficient process in most cases. You have to decide on the correct word (prestige, speed, flexibility, comfort, etc.) and adjust the marketing mix to it. The best word can be found using an
Attributes-Benefits Chart, and the marketing mix can be adjusted as described in the article on
Branding is a more complex process. In fact, this process turns a company or product or service into a renowned, recognized and multidimensional personality (for example – “a small and friendly bear that likes honey and speaks wise nonsense” – that’s right, you guessed it – Winnie the Pooh). You can brand using senses, colors, and shapes – for example a logo, jingle, and even smell and taste). You can also brand using communicative language (such as soft and caressing feminine) and using stories (for example – Richard Branson’s adventure stories that paint
the Virgin superbrand in an unconventional and modern hue – fitting for a company that “breaks the rules for you”).
So what should you do to create differentiation? Positioning or branding?
Our recommendation is unequivocal: In most cases, you should first tackle
positioning. This is a relatively simple and easy process, even with a limited budget. Positioning is also more intuitive, and enables employees to focus around one clear benefit, and for customers to understand what it is. The outcome of successful positioning is that customers understand the differentiation and the marketing message: “If you choose our solutions, you will get a specific benefit that is unique to us, that constitutes our advantage over the competition”.
Branding, in contrast, is a very expensive and more complex process that needs to transmit a more complex message to customers (choose our brand because its personality is this, that and whatnot). Logos and slogans are not enough to transmit such complex messages. Numerous processes are required that will elucidate the brand’s personality. The employees also need to internalize complex messages repeated exposure to the complex marketing message is required, several times over. Therefore, branding also requires a very large marketing and advertising budget. This might be appropriate for mass consumer goods (like the iPhone), but much less so for business to business (B2B) solutions and for products that do not have advertising budgets in the millions of shekels or dollars.
The bottom line is that you should start with positioning. Only once you’ve acquired ownership of one clear and focused benefit (prestige, flexibility, speed, comfort, etc.), and only if you have large marketing and advertising budgets – can you consider moving forward, and later do
branding as well. Consider yourselves warned if you try to do branding before positioning, and without a suitable budget – in most cases it will be a waste of resources and money, and you won’t benefit much from it.
For assistance with a quick and focused positioning process, please