Brand Positioning vs. Brand Promises: 


Simple Steps to Hone Your Brand’s Position in the Market

In the business and marketing world, “branding” is one of those terms that often means everything and nothing at the same time. When talking with our clients at Sutherland Weston (or even with friends and family over the dinner table), two key elements of branding repeatedly come up in conversation: brand positioning and brand promises. While these terms may seem interchangeable, they serve very distinct roles in shaping your brand’s identity and how it resonates with consumers.

Because the difference can make, well, a difference to your business, today I wanted to delve into the nuances between brand positioning and brand promises. Moreover, I’ll outline simple steps you can take to hone your brand’s position in the market effectively.

What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is the unique space that a brand occupies in the minds of its target audience. It’s how you differentiate your product or service from that of your competitors. Think of it as your brand’s ‘GPS coordinates’ in the marketplace; it’s what makes consumers choose you over someone else. Soda vs. Water?, Sit-down restaurant or Take-out? The difference between these choices has to do with brand position. 

Key Elements of Brand Positioning:

  • Target Audience: Who are you trying to reach?
  • Value Proposition: What unique value do you bring?
  • Differentiation: How are you different from competitors?
  • Market Category: What market do you operate in?

What is a Brand Promise?

The brand promise is the commitment that a brand makes to its consumers. It outlines the tangible benefits that consumers can expect from interacting with the brand. This could be anything from exceptional customer service to high-quality products. Coke vs. Pepsi?, Wendy’s or McDonald’s? These choices are affected by a brand’s promise. 

Key Elements of a Brand Promise:

  • Simplicity: It must be easy to understand.
  • Relevance: It must solve a problem or fulfill a need.
  • Credibility: It must be a promise that can actually be kept.
  • Uniqueness: Ideally, it’s something only your brand can offer.

Brand Positioning vs. Brand Promises: The Differences

  • Purpose: Positioning establishes where you stand in the market, while the promise defines what consumers can expect from you.
  • Audience Focus: Positioning is more focused on attracting the target audience, whereas the promise is geared towards keeping them.
  • Time Frame: Positioning is often a longer-term strategy, whereas promises can be short-term expectations.
  • Messaging: Positioning is generally communicated through various marketing channels, while promises often feature prominently in mission statements and customer service policies.

Simple Steps to Hone Your Brand’s Position

One of the best things you can do for your business is to take the time to really understand and share your brand’s position in the marketplace. It’s the first piece of information needed to create any realistic marketing strategy. 

Here are a few simple steps you can take to really develop your brand’s positioning into something you can share and use to grow your brand and business.

Step 1: Market Research

  • Target Audience: Define the characteristics and pain points of your target audience.
  • Competitor Analysis: Understand what your competitors are offering.

Step 2: Develop a Unique Value Proposition

  • Create a concise statement that clearly outlines how your brand offers something unique that matters to your target audience.

Step 3: Test the Waters

  • Use focus groups, surveys, and social media feedback to see how your value proposition stands.

Step 4: Craft Your Brand Promise

  • Use your value proposition and market research to outline a clear, achievable promise to your consumers.

Step 5: Consistent Messaging

  • Ensure all your marketing materials, online and offline, reflect your brand positioning and brand promise.

Step 6: Train Your Team

  • Ensure that everyone in your organization understands the brand positioning and brand promise so that they can deliver a consistent brand experience. We work with clients regularly to create simple note cards that each employee can keep handy that describe not only the company’s mission and vision, but also its brand position, promise, and key messages.

Step 7: Evaluate and Tweak

  • Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate whether your brand positioning and promise are delivering the desired results. (KPIs a term that makes you twitch? Check out our simple guide to understanding and selecting KPIs here!) 

I said it earlier, but it bears repeating, understanding the differences between brand positioning and brand promises can significantly impact how your brand is perceived and how well it performs in the market. By following these simple steps, you can carve out a unique position and make promises that not only attract but also retain customers.

By honing your brand’s position in the market effectively, you make it easier for consumers to understand why they should choose you over your competitors. In the end, it’s all about being clear on who you are, what you offer, and how you deliver on your promises.  

And if you need help, let me know. There’s nothing we love more than helping to define and promote strong brands! 

~ Elizabeth