Companies build and grow successful brands by first making deep commitments to their brand positioning strategy. To do this effectively, such businesses must truly understand their market and competitive landscape, identify their key differentiators, and determine the most relevant and compelling way to connect with their audiences, using messages, visual tools, experiences, and more. In addition to all this work, companies need to ensure that everyone internally is on the same page with positioning strategy, and maps their projects and actions to the overarching brand promise.
As if that’s not complex enough, the brand positioning strategy that results from all this work must remain relevant over time as the company grows and evolves. Even when companies carry out the above guidelines to the letter, how can they be sure their brand positioning strategy embraces a big enough vision to reflect their future?
To help you craft a smart brand positioning strategy, we’ve provided several brand positioning examples below that show how well-known brands approached this work, whether introducing their company right out of the gate or evolving an established brand positioning strategy to reflect new competitive or market realities.
1. Walt Disney Pictures: From its inception, Walt Disney Pictures positioned itself as a provider of family entertainment. Yet this audience represented only 20% of the movie-going market, effectively pigeonholing Disney as a niche player that would never really grow. Rather than abandoning the power of its existing brand, Disney realized that it could add new brands to its portfolio and connect them through a commitment to franchisable, quality entertainment in all forms.
To implement this new approach, Disney created Touchstone Pictures, a studio committed to quality entertainment for audiences beyond just families. Given its new brand positioning as well as Touchstone’s ensuing success, Disney has achieved rapid growth and today owns some of the most distinctive, high-quality brands in entertainment, including Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and ESPN.
2. Salesforce: Early on, Salesforce saw the cloud as a way to sell “software as a service” – otherwise known as SaaS – that’s always up-to-date without requiring any installation. To reflect this positioning and business model, the company first adopted the slogan “no software”. However, over time, other technology providers jumped on the cloud bandwagon, making it harder for Salesforce to differentiate itself based on SaaS offerings alone.
To adapt, Salesforce retired the “no software” language and instead vowed to become the leader in customer success. By pledging a high-level benefit that’s compelling to all businesses, Salesforce successfully pivoted away from its original brand identity while offering the products and track record necessary to validate its new positioning.
3. Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is one of the best examples of successful brand positioning. First, Southwest’s unique service mentality has proven to be a sustainable differentiator in what’s essentially a commodities sector, where every airline operates the same planes, serves the same or similar geographies, and offers similarly priced tickets. Despite its reputation as a no-frills airline, the company routinely delivers a superior travel experience through its traveler-friendly policies and service-oriented flight attendants. In addition, rather than doing what most of its competitors do – offering something that other airlines can easily imitate – Southwest has used its attitude and service commitment to support a bigger, defensible idea that continues to set it apart.
4. Ritz Carlton: In a fashion similar to Southwest, Ritz Carlton has used service as its primary differentiator among hotel brands. The idea of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” has enabled Ritz Carlton to remain among the top luxury hotel brands around the world. To deliver on this brand promise, the company invests heavily in training and authorizes employees, from desk clerks to janitors, to spend up to a few thousand dollars in order to meet any immediate customer needs. In addition to setting the company apart with consumers, Ritz Carlton’s service reputation sets a high bar that weeds out competitors, another key tenet of brand positioning strategy.
5. Nike: Nike is another global leader that thought early on about brand positioning, a decision that has served the company well as it grows and diversifies. Back when it was just a running shoe brand, Nike committed itself to the ideals of athletic performance, with every innovation to its shoes made in the interest of improving performance rather than style. Of course, as the brand grew and diversified, Nike’s shoes, equipment, and clothing necessarily incorporated a sense of style to ensure their appeal to multiple audiences. However, exemplified by the simple line “Just Do It”, the core of Nike’s brand demonstrates a celebration of athletes and athletic performance that can live on as the company grows.
The brand positioning examples provided above are instructive to all companies regardless of what products they sell or sector they occupy. By looking closely at the decisions made by companies that truly stand apart from competitors and dominate their market arena, businesses developing their own brand positioning approach can learn valuable strategies while avoiding costly and, in some cases, devastating mistakes. However, it’s important to note that even the most successful companies can’t afford to become complacent. Fortunately, with a sound understanding of brand positioning, such brands have the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully adapt to changes in their market landscape and come out on top.Contact Us