How to craft a positioning statement

August 30, 2010

Whenever I embark on a branding or re-branding project with a client, it starts with gathering the information necessary to create a positioning statement. Without taking this step, your branding project is at risk of wasting a lot of time (at best) or missing the mark entirely (at worst). Whether it’s for the branding of a new product, business or service or for a fundraising campaign, the positioning statement is your creative team’s road map to success.

The positioning statement is a succinct 2-3 sentence paragraph that outlines the following:

  1. The target consumer/audience
  2. The sector or industry of that product or service
  3. The service or product you provide
  4. The unique offer or defining characteristics of the product or service as compared with the competition

The above components are the nuts and bolts of the brand. The next step is to define the brand personality. The personality defines the brand’s spirit and tone–essentially, how you would like your customers and supporters to feel about the brand. I usually use no more than 3-4 words, with corresponding descriptions to define the brand personality.

The statement and personality are for internal use, although some of the language can be useful for your creative copy and design.

Here’s an example using a fictitious home staging company:

Positioning Statement

For Winnipeggers who want to get top dollar for the sale of a home (audience), Stage Right home stagers (sector) helps prepare a property to make it appealing to the most people possible looking to buy (service). As the only Winnipeg stager with a warehouse full of diverse, desirable furniture, art and accessories, Stage Right’s interior designers will decorate and position a sale home according to what buyers want to see, significantly increasing its purchase price (unique offer).

Brand Personality

Tuned-in – Stage Right designers know the Winnipeg real estate market and what attracts buyers in particular neighbourhoods. They know there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Responsive – The market moves fast and Stage Right moves right along with it to get a home staged efficiently and in a minimum amount of time.
Results-driven – The only goal that matters to the customer is getting top dollar for his/her property. Stage Right never loses sight of that.

A solid positioning statement and brand personality is essential, particularly when there are multiple disciplines/professionals working on the brand. Graphic designers, copywriters, marketing and/or PR professionals can turn to the positioning statement to ensure the aspects of the brand they are working on will mesh with what the client wants/needs. It makes it crystal clear for everyone, how the creative should unfold. The work  each of these professionals puts forward  must be measured against the positioning statement and brand personality to evaluate how effective it is at conveying the brand.

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