Brand Strategy vs. Brand Positioning

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you define and grow brand value. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Mike, a Marketing VP in Chicago, Illinois who has this question about the relationship between brand strategy and brand positioning.

“I’m working on some brand needs prioritization and The Blake Project/Branding Strategy Insider came to my mind. I’ve read your thought piece about brand positioning elements, which got me thinking even further. Here’s the question: how would you briefly describe the difference between brand strategy and brand positioning? Basically, I’m looking for supports. While it’s crucial to have brand positioning in place, it can’t take the place of an overall brand strategy. Can you point me toward any further articles from The Blake Project which could help answer the question? Any thoughts or direction is very appreciated.”

Thanks for your question Mike. Brand positioning, as important as it is, is but one component of brand strategy. Brand architecture and pricing are examples of others. We have always covered brand strategy and brand positioning as separate topics I don’t think we have one piece that covers both. Having said that, here are a few more thought pieces that will help you separate the two.

On Brand Strategy:

How should we characterize brand strategy with such a divergence of opinion of what it is? Is it Art, Science or Process?

We have found that a common error advertising agencies and others commit is equating brand strategy with brand messaging and marketing communication. While brand messaging is an important part of brand strategy, it misses many other potential components of brand strategy.

On Brand Positioning:

Perhaps the most important brand management activity is positioning the brand properly. Strong brands make credible, relevant, and distinctive brand promises, which is a core component of brand positioning. Even more importantly, they fulfill these promises every day.

Positioning is something (a perception) that happens in the minds of the target market.

Back to your question Mike, brand strategy is the sum of the approach, whereas positioning is the tip of the spear. From a functional standpoint positioning is the lens in which all decisions are made. That’s because the brand essence the heart and soul of a brand and the brand promise are defined within.

It’s important to add that brands are never finished, in a sense they are living things. As brand stewards we must always be tightening the focus of our brands to ensure they are closely aligned with those people most important to our future. This is why leading brands are conducting brand positioning workshops annually at a minimum.

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