Brand Positioning Elements Defined

Derrick DayeFebruary 15, 20124 min

The brand position or brand positioning is how the brand is perceived in the context of competitive alternatives. As brand consultants, when we help our clients develop their brand strategy, we include a target customer definition, brand essence, brand promise, brand archetype and brand personality, giving the intended brand position/positioning (as opposed to the actual brand position in the mind of the customer) greater depth.

The unique value proposition and brand promise are similar. They both focus on the one or two key points of difference between the brand in question and other brands. Typically, these points of difference are brand benefits, benefits that are relevant, unique, compelling and believable for the brand in question. Brands typically focus on only one or two benefits and research has shown that people can’t link more than that number of benefits to a given brand in their minds. The first or most important benefit is sometimes referred to as the primary brand benefit. The unique value proposition for Volvo is “safety.” As a brand promise, it could be expressed as “Only Volvo assures a safe ride to parents who care about their children’s safety.”

Brand essence is the “heart and soul” of the brand, its timeless quality, expressed as “adjective, adjective, noun.” Some people refer to the brand essence as the brand mantra, while for others, the brand’s mantra is synonymous with the brand’s tagline or slogan.

Disney’s brand essence: Fun family entertainment

Nike’s brand essence: Authentic athletic performance

Starbuck’s brand essence: Rewarding everyday moments

One usually talks about attributes associated with products. Generally, with brands, people focus on benefits or values. Brand benefits can be functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive. Through market research, one can identify the path from attributes to benefits to values to self-esteem in customers’ minds. This process is called laddering. A self-expressive benefit of the Mercedes brand is that it communicates that I have status and money.

Brand associations are anything that people link or associate with the brand in their minds. For example, people associate gambling and other vices with the Las Vegas, Nevada brand.

A brand personality is the composite of different brand personality elements. We focus on 7 to 12 brand personality elements for each brand. A brand personality element is usually expressed as an adjective. The purpose of brand personality attributes is to help personify the brand and to give it a distinctive “brand voice. Brand personality elements include the following: trustworthy, innovative, reliable, friendly, rugged, wholesome, etc. We explore 57+ common personality attributes with our clients.

A brand archetype is the underlying archetype that implies the driving force or motivation behind the brand. With the brand personality, the brand archetype gives a brand a more human feel. Brand archetypes include the pioneer, the wizard, the scientist, the sage and the artist. We explore 22+ common archetypes with our clients.

Brand trigger is a term used mostly in Europe. It refers to anything that is associated with the brand that causes people to think about the brand. It elicits brand recall. Some people refer to a brand trigger as a brand mnemonic device. So, most brand identity elements (name, tagline, logo, jingle, etc.) are or can be brand triggers. The GEICO gecko is a trigger for the GEICO brand.

At The Blake Project and here on Branding Strategy Insider, we also talk about brand insistence drivers. These five things – awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility and emotional connection – drive customers from being aware of the brand to preferring the brand to being loyal to the brand to insisting on the brand — accepting no substitutes.

In the brand positioning process it’s important to understand your target market is ever-changing. You must continue to evaluate the market and your target customers — those that are most important to the future of your brand. With this understanding, continue to re-visit your positioning and tighten the focus.

Remember, the power of brands lies in focus.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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