Branding Marketing Writing/Content

6 Steps for Writing a Powerful Brand Positioning Statement

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The question: What is a brand positioning statement?

At first look, it’s a rather straightforward term. It’s a statement about the position of a brand right? But then, why do a lot of brand owners misunderstand this? So let’s make this clear.

Writing a brand positioning statement helps define the business that you’re aspiring to be. In addition, it also gives your marketing a consistent voice. 

As a brand owner, you understand the importance of knowing your customers. This knowledge gives your business a competitive advantage, and lets you meet the needs of your customers while better communicating that in your marketing. But in addition to knowing your customers, you also need to understand your own brand.

In a nutshell, a brand positioning statement clarifies what your brand does, who you target, and what benefits your brand. All of this in a short and concise statement.

It’s generally an internal document, although you have to use it as a guide to ensure that every piece of content is consistent. But before we delve further, let’s get the obvious misconceptions about brand positioning out of the way.

What a brand positioning statement is not:

  • Vision statement: This is part of the internal brand and embodies the brand’s aspirations and what the future looks like for the brand.
  • Tagline: Taglines are distilled messages that customers face, and it encapsulates the differentiator.
  • Mission statement: It’s also part of the internal brand and represents the brand’s commitment.
  • Unique selling proposition: USPs are internal outlines that only focus on the differentiator.
  • Value proposition: Value propositions focus on the emotional and functional benefits of customer experience.
  • Elevator pitch: Elevator pitches are a collection of punchy sentences that summarize the brand. It’s also designed as an engaging conversation starter.

The value proposition, the USP, tagline, and elevator pitch have one thing in common: They all summarize what a brand does, although each of these summaries have different jobs and are meant for different stakeholders.

A Positioning statements isn’t intended to be “customer-facing” statement. It’s meant to be an internal document that clarifies the position of a brand in the leadership team, from the chief executive officer to the customer service representatives.

So what is a brand positioning statement supposed to do? 

It’s supposed to give direction and clarity for all brand representatives, especially the decision makers around:

  • What it helps with
  • Who it helps
  • Competitive alternatives
  • Experience or outcome
  • Point of difference

The unique identifier of the brand positioning statement is the “competitive alternative”, because it identifies its position in comparison to the alternative. The clarity in direction guides the brand with the goal of staking a position in the mind of your customers. 

So in other words, the brand positioning statement has the task of guiding the brand into the mind of the audience.

Elements of Brand Positioning Strategy & Statement

The brand positioning strategy has 3 core elements:

  • Audience: Before deciding on anything for the brand, a good understanding of audiences and what they want is what’s required. The better you understand that audience and their problems, the better you can position your brand.
  • Competitors: Your target audience already has a lot of options in the industry. Before you throw your brand into the mix, you need a good picture of who is doing what, how it’s being done, why it’s being done, and what they’re doing well. But most importantly, you need to know what they’re not doing well and not doing at all.
  • Differentiator: With clarity on who your audience is and who your competitors are (and what they’re doing), you need to have the necessary information to pinpoint gaps and then create a unique differentiator.

Each one of them requires a detailed process and needs careful analysis and creative thinking.

The brand positioning strategy’s goal is to stand out in the industry and present itself as the best option for your target audience.

On the other hand, what are the elements of a brand positioning statement?

  • Audience
  • Pain point
  • Key benefits
  • Competitive alternatives
  • Unique point of difference

The goal of the brand positioning statement is to guide decisions, actions, and communication.

Each of the 5 elements have to be developed into a single concise sentence that defines it, because each one is a significant piece in the brand-positioning puzzle. 

After defining the elements, they are integrated into one easy-to-comprehend statement, which follows a distinct formula.

  • We help (the audience)
  • Who (pain-points)
  • To achieve and experience (key benefits)
  • Unlike (competitive alternative)
  • The solution (Unique Point of Difference)

This formula can help you paint a clear picture of the brand’s exact position in the minds of its audience.

6 Steps for Writing a Brand Positioning Statement

Writing a brand positioning statement is the product of a wide and comprehensive journey. Creating this statement provides value and an in-depth look at the brand and industry it operates in. Here are 6 steps that you can use to simplify the process.

Step #1: Defining position of the brand

This is the work that happens before the brand positioning statement is even written. Furthermore, statements shouldn’t be defined without developing the positioning strategy. There are 3 things that need to be done:

  • Understand the audience and what they want.
  • Know the competitors and what they’re doing.
  • Pinpoint the gaps and create a unique differentiator.

Step #2: Ensure alignment by referencing internal brand

Keep the internal brand on top of your mind before you go about writing a brand positioning strategy. This serves as the foundation of “who” the brand is, and that means it should be represented wherever possible to ensure that the brand is aligned.

Step #3: List every brand positioning statement element

Before writing, make sure you list out each of the brand positioning statement elements, and they are: the audience, the pain-point, key benefits, competitive alternatives, and the unique point of difference. 

Each of these 5 elements are related to each other and they need to be closely aligned, because they’re all written to ensure that they integrate well with the overall statement.

Step #4: Focus on audience understanding

The brand positioning statement is an internal document that shouldn’t be displayed to the customer, but even so, it’s important that it’s written with the customer in complete focus. 

Why, you may ask? This is to ensure that the brand positioning statement won’t be written with any inch of industry jargon or required industry knowledge to understand it. 

Keep in mind that this statement acts as a guide for the management and development of the rest of the brand, and that includes the communication strategy.

The easier it is, the clearer the communication that follows.

Step #5: Write concise sentences that define each element

Every brand positioning statement element must be defined into a concise and easily understandable sentence that doesn’t leave room for any misinterpretation. It’s even better if you have a professional copywriter at your disposal. 

If you don’t, then you need to scrutinize the statement heavily, and whether or not each and every word is completely necessary. When other words aren’t important, drop them.

Step #6: Integrate every sentence with the brand positioning statement formula

After defining individual elements into sentences, it’s time to bring them all together into one clear statement, using the brand positioning statement formula. The statement itself can be integrated into a paragraph of sentences.

But when you’re recording it in your brand guidelines or other documentations, brand representatives are more likely to remember it based on the structure outlined in the formula above.

The Takeaway

If you’ve used the brand positioning statement correctly, it can help clarify exactly why brands must be remembered and which ones would shape the messaging that will occupy the perfect position in the mind of its audiences. 

But before defining one, make sure you have a brand positioning strategy in one place. And of course, after implementing your statement and using it to guide your branding efforts, make sure to monitor and check that it’s having the desired effect of focusing your messaging.

Clearly define what your company aspires to be and give your marketing a consistent voice.

About the author


Stephen Houraghan

Stephen Houraghan runs Brand Master Academy -- a place where brand-builders turn to receive actionable brand strategy advice, processes, and techniques. Having studied finance, design, and marketing, he has a unique take on the substance and appearance of a successful brand. He applies that to small businesses and big ones alike.