Effective brand positioning research: 5 key steps

Anna Raventós

What is brand positioning?

Brand positioning is the place a product or service has in the consumer’s mind, making them prioritize your brand over the competition. Therefore, considering the number of stimuli we are exposed to as consumers, it’s key to have a strong brand positioning statement. But what does excellent brand positioning mean? Read on to learn more about brand positioning research and the types of marketing strategies that brands can implement!

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According to Philip Kotler, renowned marketing guru, “positioning consists of designing the commercial offering in such a way that it occupies a prized place in the minds of consumers.” In other words, every brand occupies a position in the market due to the association of attributes and characteristics that consumers associate with it concerning the other brands with which it competes.

It’s a mental map from which the consumer forms a brand image, a representation configured from rational and emotional attributes resulting from information, attitudes, user experiences, etc. A perceived image that is compared with competitor brands, thus establishing similarities and differences that will determine the brand in the market. This is why it’s important to define the corporate identity by which the company wants to be known and remembered by its buyer persona. For example, if Apple comes to mind when we think of high-end cell phones, it means that its brand positioning in our minds is excellent.

Why is brand positioning important?

Brand positioning will determine the consumer’s priority when choosing your brand over a competitor’s brand, which is why it’s so important to have a brand positioning strategy.

According to Forbes, brand positioning should focus on the space you want in your consumer’s mind to differentiate you from your competition. A difference that is established through the positioning map. In this perceptual map, the relative positions of the different competitors are visualized based on two axes that represent the desired attributes: for example, a vertical axis defined as “quality” and a horizontal axis defined as “price”.

Following the example, such a map would represent the brands according to their position and image in “quality-price”, thus identifying the distances and similarities between the brands in the category. Knowing how to highlight your brand from an excellent brand positioning so that your target audience remembers and thinks of your products or services when they are going to buy or need your service, instead of remembering your competition, is key to achieving a successful brand and products. That is, a brand with greater awareness, credibility, better image, and higher sales volume.

Thus, it’s essential to have objective information on the positioning perceived by the target customers. For this, it’s necessary to analyze the competition and know the consumer’s perceptions. Perceptions that can be identified through market research.

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What are the types of brand positioning

There are different strategies for competitive positioning a product:

  • Based on competition

Brand positioning strategy focused on the competitive advantages of the product or service. It’s about differentiating your brand with respect to the competition that is offering the same product.

An example would be the comparative spot of Tropicana, which presented itself as “100% pure-squeezed juice” and compared itself with Ocean Spray, which is made from concentrate.

  • Based on an attribute or characteristic 

A strategy that focuses on highlighting a physical or technical characteristic of the product. An attribute that is unique or that hasn’t been communicated yet by the competition to the consumer.

A clear example would be the Heineken tagline “Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach“.

  • Based on the benefits 

A strategy that focuses on highlighting the brand promise benefit, i.e., what the target market gains from consuming the product. For example, Actimel’s ads “Actime, immune support”, where it shows how daily consumption of the product strengthens the defenses and helps to take care of the whole family.


  • Based on the use or application 

Strategy focused on highlighting the benefits of the use of the product based on some differential feature of the packaging that facilitates its application. An example would be spray sun creams.

  • Based on the quality 

Ideal strategy if the product’s value proposition is unique. It’s a strategy that allows communicating the superiority of the product without having to compare it with the competition, but simply communicating that it’s a high-quality product.

An example of quality is found in Nespresso:


  • Based on the price 

Strategy that consists of positioning oneself as the cheapest price in the market. For example, IKEA, that is famous for offering good quality furniture at a lower price than its competitors. The brand positions itself as an affordable home and office furniture company.

  • Based on lifestyle

Positioning strategy that takes into account the lifestyle and attitudes of the target audience, thus presenting itself as the best alternative in the market. An example would be organic or vegan products, niche markets where your audience values being targeted. For example, Nestlé’s Vegan Gourmet “offers you a wide variety of delicious products made from vegetable proteins so you can enjoy your favorite dishes”.

  • Based on user type

Brand strategy that presents a product or service as the most suitable for a specific type of user. It’s usually presented through the use and experience of the product by a celebrity, seeking to identify and inspire the user. For example, KIA and Rafa Nadal.

  • Social positioning of the company

Strategy that seeks to join new trends (climate change, ecology, healthy living, quality time…). These trends are taken into account by the brand when promoting its products, seeking, for example, an image of respect for the environment and social values. We can see this in the H&M campaign, within its Sustainability line “Let’s clean up“, where its main message focuses on “It is time for fashion to be beneficial for people and the planet“.

  • Brand repositioning

Strategy that consists of reorienting and redefining the current positioning. Partly due to the great competition and constant changes in the market, it’s possible to find the need to reposition a brand, that is, to change the consumer’s perception of the brand. An example would be Starbucks, which launched its largest marketing campaign in company history to reassert the quality of its product. A successful repositioning that enabled the brand achieve a record $16 billion in annual revenue.

How to create a strong brand positioning through research

In order to develop a brand positioning strategy successfully it’s essential to have unbiased information that allows you to:

  1. Analyze the current positioning of your brand: does the consumer perceive the brand as you wish to communicate it, or, on the contrary, does the image communicated by the brand differ from the image decoded by the consumer?
  2. Knowing the competition: what’s the competition communicating? What’s its brand image? What’s its competitive advantage?
  3. Identify the target audience: what are the target consumer’s preferences and motivations, are there different types of consumers? A market segmentation that will allow you to define a focused and objective strategy.
  4. Determine the competitive advantage that makes your brand unique.
  5. Develop the communication strategy that will allow your brand to be foremost in the mind of the target. Strategy where an advertising campaign can be carried out, although there’s a growing commitment to advertising on social networks, since it doesn’t require large advertising budgets.


All the information you need can be easily obtained through brand positioning market research, studies that will allow you to identify key consumer insights, such as the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and the competition according to the positioning in the mind of the consumer, as well as the perceptions, motivations, and preferences of the target audience.

Don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts to find the solution that best suits your needs and ensure the success of your brand positioning strategy.

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