Brand positioning is all about putting your startup at the forefront of your customer’s minds. We all know logos and slogans that are memorable but this is more than that, this is a brand’s culture, vision, and commitment to social responsibility. It’s the feel-good we feel from valuable and credible brands.
Great brands live in consumers’ minds rent-free and that is exactly what your startup should be striving for. In this guide, we’re going to consider the importance of brand position, go over the first steps for startups, highlight the customer-first approach and consider some examples from startups.
Benefits of Brand Positioning
Why should startups care about how they are positioning themselves?
Building a reputation that your customers can care about and get behind will help your startup establish a customer-first value approach. Solid positioning also builds emotional responses from your potential customers which we all know people rely on to make purchasing decisions.
Customer loyalty is nothing to be sniffed at. Loyal customers will be an integral part of your startup as it scales. Establishing a loyal customer base will mean higher retention rates and less investment in lead generation.
Startups know this one more than most – market differentiation. Brand positioning helps you set your startup apart from competitors. Showcasing benefits of why your product or service is the one to choose is what will keep your startup growing or stop it in its tracks.
First Steps for Startups: Brand Positioning Strategy
Current Brand Positioning
If you launched into your startup and have a rough positioning ideal in place, what is it saying? What are you telling your audience about your brand? To analyse your competition effectively you need to know who you are or trying to be. You can start by outlining your ideal customer and creating a definition around what they look like.
The next step is to get clear on your mission and values before carving out what makes your startup different.
The brand chart helps you figure out what your brand says to customers. There are various approaches to this but one that we prefer to use includes the following:
Features, Attributes, and Claims
This is the meat of your startup’s position. It’s where you signpost what makes your product or service great. What really sets you apart?
Logic plays a big part in purchasing psychology. Alongside emotion, logic is the highest persuader to take action and should be included in any customer’s journey.
How will your product or service enrich your customer’s life? Can they see themselves in the outcome you are lining up with your positioning strategy? Emotional benefit is critical for startups in that it lays down the need for aligning with your brand.
What is the reason for it all? Why is your startup in existence and how do you define your purpose? This is your startup’s essence. It’s what drives your values and outlines the benefits for your customers.
Once you have firmly established your identity as a brand, it’s time to turn your attention to your competitors. The startups you’re going up against and the more you know about their strategies, the better your own can be.
How do you effectively identify your competitors?
There are various methods to do so;
Market Research: ask your team which competitors come up during the sales process. Whether these are alternatives for potential customers or reasons why your startup wasn’t selected.
Competitor audits: find out who is ranking for the keywords you want to rank for or that you are already ranking for. Using a tool such as Ahrefs will give you the insights you’re looking for in this process. Get keyword research insights here.
Once you know who your competitors are then you need to analyse how your competitors are positioning themselves so that you can compete against them.
When you begin researching your competitors you should consider their:
- Products or services
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Marketing strategies
- Position in the market
Unique Selling Point
What sets you apart? What will you be remembered for?
Is your product or service sustainable? Is it a never-before-seen technology?
Your USP isn’t just part of your brand positioning, it also plays a big part in your conversion strategy on your website.
The best way to determine your USP is to first list the features and benefits of your product or service. This creates the foundation of your startup’s unique selling point.
Then you need to decide what emotional need is being met by what you’re offering. Following this, you need to identify aspects of your product or service that competitors aren’t capable of copying. What makes your product yours?
Creating messaging that is easy to understand and clear is essential. Take your time to create phrases that are memorable, succinct, and clear.
The final step is to answer your customer’s big question; ‘what is in it for me?’ – show them how becoming a customer will improve their lives.
This short and sweet copy matters so much. Your positioning statement tells people who you are and what you’re all about.
When you are creating your positioning statement for your startup you need to keep it to one or two sentences that highlight the value of your startup over your competitors.
Before you start writing, you need to ask who your target customer is, what your product or service category is, which benefit would you highlight and where is the proof of that specified benefit?
64% of women and 68% of men have felt an emotional connection with a brand (Consumer Thermometer)
An emotional connection takes your brand from a cold outline to a living breathing entity that your customers want to engage with and are eager to build a relationship with.
Connecting on the human level shows your customers that you care about their needs and you’re invested in their experience being a positive one.
Learning about the core problems your customers are facing whilst offering bespoke solutions builds loyalty which elevates your brand positioning through advocates and referrals.
Just like quality is better than quantity, value means more than worthless. Integrating this into your startup’s positioning will show your future customers that you want to give them the information they’re looking for, the answers they need, and the solutions they’re worthy of.
Value in your positioning will dictate the same dedication in your mission statement, company culture, and the content you create.
Did you know that presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%? (Forbes)
The Importance of Listening to your Customers
A 5% increase in customer retention can produce 25% more profit (Bain).
Customers are your greatest asset, not only do they fuel your startup, they also make you better.
Their feedback is honest, objective, and critical to who you are as a brand.
If your customers are telling you that the user experience isn’t enjoyable or that they don’t feel nurtured by your brand – change it and do better.
Happy customers create more customers which in turn generates more revenue and your startup’s ultimate success.
Putting your customers first in your brand positioning will ensure that you are creating a startup that they can be proud of and in turn will come back to again and again.
Examples of Brand Positioning from Startups
Let’s look at some examples of startups and their brand positioning. We will look at what they’ve done well and where they can improve.
Who Gives a Crap
Who Gives a Crap was launched in July 2012 with a crowdfunding campaign and the first product was delivered in March 2013. Their story is emotive, authentic, and relatable. It’s about helping people get better access to toilets and sanitation to save the hundreds of thousands of children dying from diarrhoeal diseases which is a child every 2 minutes.
50% of Who Gives a Crap’s profits are donated to help build toilets and improve sanitation.
Their brand positioning is clear, simple, humorous, and relevant. They want to be good for the world, people, and your bum.
Their messaging overall is really friendly and conversational but we’d love to see some more social proof. There is also room for some improved positioning on the homepage, a clear and concise positioning statement is missing which could tie everything together really well.
Oddbox started with a mission to reduce food wastage and they keep track of the positive impact they’re making which is great. The emotional impact of being part of something that makes such a change is rewarding for the customer which is ultimately a success for the brand. Oddbox source the veg that would normally go to waste for silly reasons, pack it up and deliver it to your door. It’s a wonderful concept and the environment positives are fab.
Their brand positioning is clear, highlights how it adds value, and the customer experience is smooth with benefits clearly showcased. We love the clean simplicity and the concise messaging.
Where Oddbox could improve in terms of their positioning is with more human interaction on the website, there aren’t any faces or intros to the team which as a customer feels a little closed off. The transparency is beneficial to the experience but there is room for better emotive relationship building by bringing in more visibility of the farmers themselves.
Monzo is a virtual bank that was founded in 2015, one of the earlier app-based banks in the UK. Created by a team of people that wanted to make banking easier for their customers. Monzo is scaling incredibly quickly and their message is that they are building a bank with their customers that work for them. The logic pull is strong with Monzo, they’re talking about giving you, the customer, the control of your own money. Their branding is clear, it’s customer-focused and it offers solutions.
The tone of voice Monzo uses focuses on ‘we’ as opposed to ‘you’ which positions their startup as a brand they can rely on. Monzo does a superb job of being consistent across platforms which we know is a big tick for good brand positioning. Where they could improve is on social proof, they highlight how many users they have which is great but across the website, there is a gap in social proof that could really elevate the positioning of their brand.
Bought by Many
Bought by Many launched their pet insurance in 2017 striving to make insurance better for everyone. Bought by Many’s entire infrastructure is based on listening to their customers which works every time. Not only have they been awarded numerous times by the consumers themselves, they have also reinvented insurance so that it isn’t the bore that we all know it can be. Their brand positioning is approachable, trustworthy, and prioritises not just the customer but their pet as well.
Their messaging is focused on inventive ways to support customers. It’s about what will make life easier for pet parents, it’s emotive and logical in the fine balance that so many brands attempt to achieve and just don’t get quite right. In terms of improvement, to better position their startup Bought by Many could work on creating a value proposition that is more encompassing of what they do and offer. There is also a gap in data – they say they have great customer service and their reviews are great but the data to support this would take it to the next level.
Gousto is a convenient way to live in 2021. A startup founded in 2012 to bring fresh weekly meals to the people in a quick, easy way. Firstly, their positioning statement is strong, it’s clear, succinct, memorable, and unique. A brilliant way to put your best foot forward. The images are emotive with examples of recipes, there is great social proof from customers and influencers like Joe Wicks.
The value is clear – save yourself the hassle of meal planning, shopping, and getting bored of the same meals week in and week out. Logically in the modern age, it’s a great solution.
However where Gousto could improve is their story, there is minimal information about the story which takes away from the brand overall. There is a lot of information about how Gousto is sustainable and what the brand is doing to make the world a better place but it feels a little distant because of the lack of humanity across the brand.
Brand positioning is critical for your startup. If you find that your brand isn’t showcasing the message you want it to, then revisit your brand positioning and work through the stages until it sings the right tune.
Know who your startup is and what you want it to become, pair this with what your customers are saying, and then add in all the substance with emotion, logic, and value.
Invest time in getting to know your competitors and then using what you learn to be even better. Consumers understanding who your startup is as a brand is a difference between having the support to scale and not getting ROI.