Positioning vs. Branding—How To Know Which You Need

  • Category: MarketingPositioning

There’s positioning yourself as an authority and there’s branding yourself as one: how do you know which you need?

Let’s start with a couple of definitions.

I like consultant/author April Dunford’s viewpoint on positioning that she calls: “deliberately defining how you are the best at something that a defined market cares a lot about.”

(For a deeper dive on positioning, check out our podcast interview with April here).

Most of the countless definitions of branding focus on what you can see—a name or a mark. But for experts and authorities, your brand is what your ideal audience thinks of when they hear your name.

It might include facts (you’re based in Miami and your logo is blue), but it also includes their emotional reaction (“I love how he helps the underdog”). Your brand exists largely in the minds of your target clients and buyers.

Here’s the thing: until you have carved out a clear position for yourself, strategic branding is pretty much impossible.

Because it’s your positioning that pinpoints your sweet-spot audience, what they most value about you (your best transformations) and even how to price your services and products.

Branding comes afterwards: a series of moves that help cement your positioning in the minds and hearts of your target market.

Which do you need?

If you’re losing opportunities because the client doesn’t understand what you do, a new logo isn’t going to help. You’ve got soggy positioning—so start there.

If you’re getting price pushback, that’s a sign that your clients and buyers don’t see the value in your services. You don’t need a new website, you need clear positioning targeted to your best audience.

On the other hand, if you’re consistently getting great responses to your content and it’s leading to new clients and buyers (you just want more of them), your positioning may be just right.

You might be ready to invest in more moves to build your brand: content distribution (new platforms and media to leverage your message), social media engagement and updating your website or marketing collateral if they aren’t aligned with your positioning.

Position yourself and your authority first.

Then double down on building your brand.