Brand positioning

In brand work three key components often come up. The first two wordings are brand strategy and brand hierarchy. It is not uncommon for these two to be confused with each other. Or at least their meaning and interrelationship can be unclear – after all, the terms themselves are very similar.

I’ll open their meaning in more depth in another post. I’ll describe them here briefly to open the third key component of brand work: positioning. Positioning in an other context – for example in pricing – has a slightly different meaning. Now I focus on brand work.

Result of your own intentions, decisions and actions.

It is your own decision how brand strategy determines the significance and role of the brand in your company’s strategy, and which issues and which features of company or product/service get a prominent role in brand work. It is also entirely up to you to decide how the brand hierarchy in turn determines the interrelationships between these things. These two are thus clearly the result of your own intentions, decisions and actions. And it is possible to influence these completely through your own intentions and actions.

Brand position happens mainly regardless of what one’s own intentions, decisions and actions are.

It is common to think likewise that you decide for yourself how your brand will position itself in relation to competing brands. And in part this is the case. But only partly.

Regardless of your own intentions, decisions and actions.

Brand position firstly describes one’s own intention of the brand’s position in the industry, in competition and also in society at large – and especially in customers’ life. And herein lies what’s dangerous in misunderstanding positioning. How one’s own brand – be it a corporate brand, a product or service brand, a country brand or brand of a non-profit association – is positioned happens mainly regardless of what one’s own intentions, decisions and actions are. That is position.

Think: what happens elsewhere in your industry or in other industries / will there rise up whole new industry ecosystems you didin’t know anything about before / how the economy develops / what competitors do or don’t do / how legislation develops / what happens in surrounding society / how people’s values change .. etc. Just to mention a few. Anything you can’t mostly influence yourself will decide much more of your brand’s position than your own desires or intentions. This is not an opinion, but a simple truth.

Positioning is preparedness for encounters and it comes with the acceptance and understanding of the meaning of brand work.

Who wouldn’t want to be seen as a leader and innovator across industries; and to be the catalyst for own ecosystem; and gain desire in society at large. It is entirely possible. But then the meaning of positioning and the role of brand work in it needs to be understood and accepted.

It is very common to see results of a brand awareness study and wonder for own brand not to end up in the corner of the four field graph where it was drawn during positioning workshop. When this is the case, it is possible that the significance of positioning has been understood miserably – as if it were result only of one’s own volition. One should look reasons for this from the elementary basics of brand work where the very first observation and understanding should be that brand is encounters. And in encounters the brand’s value – to customers, competitors, the industry and the whole ecosystem and society – is born. That is position.

Positioning as a verb, in turn, is brand work. And in reverse: brand work is positioning.

It is a textbook example of how a killer competition changes rules of the business for the entire industry in one go. This will at the latest show whether positioning has been considered seriously in the scenario work and how its role has been understood in the company’s strategy and in brand strategy.

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Timo Keinänen Explorer, concept designer, strategist, art director, writer and designer.
”I belive that you should be yourself, as all other roles are already taken. If you have the opportunity to express an opinion, express your own.”

Thoughts, posts and opinions represent myself only.