Who are you? What do you want to be? How do you wish people to perceive you? Why should they care?

In other words, what is your brand?

Many factors go into building a company brand. Every touchpoint with customers and the marketplace is a potential brand-building moment. The way your employees conduct themselves internally on a day-to-day basis—your company culture—matters, too. But one thing that you absolutely, positively must get right as you build and burnish your brand is to answer the question: “What do we say about ourselves?”

This is where the critical combination of brand positioning and messaging comes into play. They’re pivotal in the blueprint of successful marketing strategies. Together, they not only carve out a distinctive identity for your brand, but also ensure that your voice resonates effectively with the intended audience.

At its core, brand positioning is about crafting a unique space in the minds of consumers—a space that defines and differentiates your organization’s identity in relation to competitors. Brand messaging, on the other hand, is what you say about your organization and its value proposition to your audience. These two elements work in tandem to shape perceptions, influence decisions, and forge loyalty.

In today’s cluttered market, assembling a smart brand positioning and messaging strategy can make all the difference between standing out and fading away.

The essence of brand positioning

So, a little more about brand positioning: It sets your brand apart from competitors in a way that builds up preference for it among your target customers. With strategies that can include price, promotion, distribution, and packaging, you identify and attempt to own a marketing niche. The goal is to create a unique impression in customers’ minds, so they associate something specific and desirable with your brand that’s distinct from the rest of the marketplace.

Well-defined brand positioning clarifies the brand’s essence, promises, and benefits, ensuring that all your subsequent brand and marketing messaging is aligned and coherent. This clarity is not just beneficial for your customers, but also within—an internal guide for marketing strategy, communications, and product development.

The power of brand messaging

Brand messaging is, in essence, the articulation of your brand’s position. It answers the question of what you want to say about yourself out of the gate (or in an elevator). It’s what you say to tell your story, convey your value proposition, and connect both intellectually and emotionally with your audience.

Effective brand messaging should be compelling, memorable, and clear. It should resonate with the audience and address their needs, desires, and challenges, as well as highlight what makes your brand unique.

The right messaging can elevate your brand, making it relevant and relatable. It can transform abstract concepts of brand values and positioning into tangible experiences and/or feelings that a customer can identify with. This connection is what often turns potential customers into loyal advocates.

Positioning, meet messaging

Brand positioning and messaging are intrinsically linked. Positioning lays the foundation and offers a clear direction for what your company stands for. Then, messaging is the vehicle that delivers these ideas to the world. Together, they’re a powerful tool for differentiation in a competitive market.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to position your brand as an eco-friendly alternative within your industry. Your messaging needs to consistently and authentically communicate how your brand delivers on that promise, from the use of sustainable materials to ethical business practices. This consistency ensures that when customers think of eco-friendly options in your industry, they immediately think of you.

The thinks, the feels, the edge

Effective brand positioning and messaging have a profound impact on consumer perception. They can influence not just what customers and prospects think about you, but how they feel about you. When the market understands what you stand for and sees your value proposition mirrored in your messaging, they’re more likely to feel a connection to your brand.

And that customer connection, both rational and visceral, is the cornerstone of brand loyalty. It transforms occasional buyers into brand advocates who trust your brand, believe in your values, and choose you over competitors repeatedly. In the long run, this loyalty translates into a strong, sustainable competitive edge.

According to Gartner, over 85 percent of B2B customers are overwhelmed by the information they encounter while purchasing products and services. With that in mind, it’s critical that brand messaging is consistent, clear, and concise across all touchpoints. This not only makes your brand more memorable but also easier to buy from—a cut through the inconsistent, unclear, and lengthy messaging of your competitors.

So, where do you begin?

Start with understanding your target audience to define and implement brand positioning and messaging. Identify your customers’ and prospects’ needs, preferences, and pain points. This positions your brand in a way that meets the audience’s needs in a unique and valuable manner.

Once your brand position is clear, it’s time to craft your brand message. First define the “what”—the most salient and compelling words to define and differentiate your brand. It’s also about the “how”—nail the right tone, style, and channels to communicate the brand message. Consistency across all touchpoints is crucial to reinforce your brand’s position and brand image.

It’s not smoke, it’s fire

To engage in a brand positioning and messaging initiative is not just blowing smoke with marketing jargon. Plenty of companies have foregone this exercise and paid the price of indefinite, unfocused marketing and communications.

Make that mistake at your own peril. These two components are essential foundational pieces for any brand aiming to carve its niche in a crowded marketplace. They enable you to define your unique space, communicate your value, stand out amongst competitors, and establish lasting relationships with your customers.

In a marketplace where consumers are bombarded with seemingly countless choices, a strong brand position and clear, attractive messaging can be the flame that guides consumers to your brand. When you invest in these areas, you get a strong underpinning for growth, loyalty, and a competitive edge that stands the test of time.

Kimberly Tyner is CEO and CCO at Spire.

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