Branding or Positioning

t_newhard_kDo you know the difference between the branding and positioning? Perhaps you use them interchangeably. Perhaps you use them instead of the word marketing. Let me posit that the two words mean different things.

First of all, why does it seem like I care so much about semantics? It seems like I care because I do care. For this reason: where there is a lack of common language progress cannot be achieved.


What is branding? When I think about branding, I immediately think about branding cattle (the process in which a rancher places his mark on a head of cattle, so as to indicate that said head of cattle belongs to him). Branding yourself, your product, or your business is no different, but you may have a logo and/or color scheme that defines something that belongs to you, your product or your business. Your name is also a part of your brand. You should not literally brand yourself or your business, such a thing would be kind of painful.

Branding ends with the physical appearance of a particular thing. Nike brands things with a “swoosh.” Apple brands things with simplistic design. Blackberry brands things with the Blackberry logo and track ball in the middle of its devices.


What is positioning? When I thing about positioning I think about Target and Wal-Mart. The stores are very similar in terms of the types of things they sell, their prices, and even the quality of things they sell. But do I think about the two stores differently? Yes. And I bet that most people out there would agree with me when I say that Target sells better quality stuff than Wal-Mart. My wife, for example, will buy clothes by the cart-full from Target, but will not stop to dust her shoes off near the clothing section at Wal-Mart.

Positioning happens in the minds of consumers, employees, and competitors. Positioning is connected to the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that the above mentioned have about your product and your business.

Many people think that positioning is branding.

How are they connected?

Your branding should be connected to your positioning goals.

For example, let’s say that you are starting up a retail boutique that sells accessories for pets. What kind of position do you want to win over in the minds of your prospective customers? You have done your research, and you have decided that you want to occupy the top luxury position.

Your products and prices are upscale, so that is a start, but what is next? You do not have a name, logo, store signage, website, or corporate stationary kit. All of these things are mediums for your brand and should all look and feel the same. In this case, they should all be high class — befitting of a luxury product. Your brand should reflect the level of investment you expect your prospects to make and the position you want to occupy in their minds.

Why is this important to you?

Perception is reality. The position you have in your prospective customer’s mind will determine if they buy things from you or one of your competitors. That position is determined by many aspects of your business and your marketing, which includes your branding.

If you need help with your positioning strategy and branding you can always contract a marketing agency. Ensure that your agency is abreast to quantitative research and analysis because data are always the best guides to determining what direction you should go in.