Positioning & Branding

Positioning as the Foundation for Branding

Rosemary Remacle spoke about positioning, and Frank Priscaro regarding branding at the August 10, 1998 Software Forum Marketing SIG.


It is often very hard to sort out and articulate the aspects of technology, product and company that differentiate a product or service from its competition. While a positioning strategy may initially be technology-centric, over time it needs to move to a product and company focus.

As a product is positioned in a particular customer segment, over time you will start to build brand awareness and acceptance, first leading to establishing the brand, and subsequently to the company behind the brand.

There are similarities between positioning and branding. But fundamentally, branding is an emotional feeling.


(customer perspective)

  •  Explain
  •  Experience
  •  Analytic
  •  Creative
  •  Explicit
  •  Implicit
  •  Words
  •  Music
  •  Company
  •  Customer
  •  Logical
  •  Creative / Experience

The test of an established brand is its ability to carry more than one product.

In evaluating a positioning, you need to consider:

  • Who is the customer? (It’s always a person)
  • What problem captures their need?
  • What solution type, best solves their problem?
  • What specific product solves their problem?
  • What are the USPs (unique selling proposition) that address this unique need?
  • Who are the key competing customers?

To determine the value of your positioning, ask yourself, “If your competitor were to use your positioning, would it scare you?” If it does, you’ve done a good job of positioning!

Everything you do should tie into the positioning, including slogans, tag lines, logos, price, affiliations, ownership, corporate ads, company and product lines, distribution, promotions, sponsors and the buying experience. Remember, if your positioning isn’t clear, neither will your brand. Fundamentally, positioning drives your strategy.


Branding is when the evidence of the positioning comes into contact with the customer, and they agree. Branding is the summation of the total experience the customer has of the product and company. As such, it encompasses the promise of the product, the purchase of the product, the product itself, and the people around the product.

Why build a brand? A good brand provides a company with protection, the ability to maintain higher prices, a pre-emptive image, and pride. Startups often suffer from the danger of building a brand before properly positioning their product or service. (Echelon and General Magic comes to mind.) Above all, branding is about managing the customer’s experience.

Building the equity and value of a brand occurs over a long time. Establishing a strong brand enables having a lasting market position in short-lived markets.

The keys to establishing a strong brand are to promise big and deliver bigger, do only things that build the brand, surround the brand with acceptance, live the brand, and extend it. And you think this is easy? Ha!

How do you measure the value of a brand? People will do benchmarks and focus groups. You’ll hear word of mouth, anecdotes, and the “buzz.” But the tangible value of a brand comes from being able to command a price premium, obtain customer preference, have a higher replacement value and stock price, as well as greater earning power.

Branding enables market leadership that in turn provides longer product life cycles. It forms the entrée for new customers and evaluation lists. By creating trust in the customer, it provides a certain amount of market forgiveness for instances where products have problems, for example, the first release of various Microsoft products.

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