Positioning Strategy Framework: 5 Keys to Differentiation

Positioning Framework: 5 Keys to Differentiation

How a Positioning Statement Unlocks Purpose and Alignment

Every business should have a clear positioning framework that they use to differentiate their brand.  However, many do not. This oversight puts the business at risk, as competitors can easily sweep in to deliver a stronger message to consumers and steal share. 

A positioning framework forces the organization to think through five key areas:

  1. Who is the target consumer?
  2. What matters the most to the target consumers?
  3. What is the brand’s value proposition to consumers?
  4. What differentiates the brand from key competitors?
  5. What are the proof points to uniquely deliver against the value proposition?

Part of the positioning framework is to develop a compelling positioning statement. Having a positioning statement can be powerful in two major ways:

  1. Creates alignment within the organization, giving different functions (sales, marketing, innovation etc.) one common vision for the brand and key proof points
  2. Enables organizations to be purposeful in their external communication to drive differentiation against competitors and build brand loyalty

Positioning Statement Framework

To drive internal alignment, below is a classic positioning statement framework that is often used:

  • To target [specific audience],
  • For frame of reference [defined],
  • Brand X point of differentiation is [functional/emotional]
  • Because reasons to believe [attributes]

Once defined, the positioning statement is meant to be used as an internal tool that serves as a guidepost to all internal product and marketing decisions.  External communications, such as a tagline, are executional component that get crafted using the positioning statement as an input

We’ve written extensively on the different components of a positioning framework statement.

3 Positioning Framework Examples

Below are three positioning examples of well-known brands that are setting themselves apart by elevating their positionings to include emotional and experiential benefits.

Positioning Framework Example:
DOVE – ASPIRATIONAL REDEFINING BEAUTY

Positioning Framework: 5 Keys to Differentiation
AboutDove is owned by Unilever and is a long-standing brand that launched in 1957.  Today, it has an estimated brand value of over $5 billion
Core TargetWomen who value natural healthy beauty products  
Mission“Our mission is to ensure the next generation grow up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look – helping girls to raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential”
PositioningIn 2004, Dove launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty” and positioned itself as a partner in redefining beauty – where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.  The brand embraces imperfections and diversity, providing an array of product to meet the different and real needs of consumers

Positioning Framework Example:
STARBUCKS – PREMIUM COFFEE EXPERIENCE

Positioning Framework: 5 Keys to Differentiation
AboutStarbucks is a $26 billion global brand that launched in 1971, but reached popularity in the 1990s with extensive branding and expansion efforts 
Core TargetUrban, higher-income professionals  
Mission“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”
PositioningStarbucks positioned itself as a premium coffee experience with exceptional and personalized customer service (e.g., name on cup) and unique coffee offerings (pumpkin spice latte)

Positioning Framework Example:
AIRBNB – CREATING A COMMUNITY  

Positioning Framework: 5 Keys to Differentiation
AboutAirbnb is an online digital platform that launched in 2008 and generates over $3.3 billion in annual revenues    
Core TargetMillennials – budget conscious travelers and young families looking to book a room or full house instead of a hotel
Mission“To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are focused on creating an end-to-end travel platform that will handle every part of your trip”
PositioningAirbnb has positioned itself as a community where guests can have a more authentic experience

Additional positioning examples for inspiration can be found in the following articles:

For more on positioning frameworks, visit our positioning resource page or sign up for our newsletter.

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