Branding creates positive user expectations of reward from your products or services. Positioning establishes a preference for your brand relative to competitive offerings based on the perception of a unique and important difference. Branding, therefore, makes the promise of good user experiences. Positioning describes the brand's unique competitive difference that makes the promise compelling.


Branding is an added-value proposition. If your customers are unwilling to pay a premium for whatever you're selling, it may signal that users perceive your offerings as being no different from your competitors. When the extra value of your product or service is apparent, users willingly pay a premium because expectations are indelibly imprinted in their psyches. Marketers frequently call these expectations the "brand experience," which is a complex of intangibles that includes feelings, beliefs, perceptions, mental imagery and attitudes. The marvel of the brand experience is that it cannot be challenged with rational persuasion because it is inherently irrational. It's about how users "feel" about your brand, a feeling that becomes virtually unshakable after it is properly seeded.

Focus Points

Positioning is integral to managing user perceptions of the brand experience. The brand experience is implicitly comparative. It implies that your brand's user experience cannot be obtained from competitive offerings. Effective positioning differentiates your brand based on a unique emotional benefit that is exclusive to your brand and results in a selective preference for your brand in the minds of users. Positioning, therefore, focuses on that singularly unique product difference. Branding focuses on the user's experiential reaction to using the product.

Positioning Precedes Branding

A great brand is proof positive of successful positioning. Consequently, positioning must come before branding. Marketers frequently refer to the brand positioning statement. This statement captures the key inputs required for effective positioning. A simplified version of the statement includes a description of your target market, a description of your competition, a description of the emotional benefits your products deliver, a description of your unique selling proposition and the reasons why your benefits and unique selling proposition are believable. Through the process of elimination and refinement, you will ultimately zero in on that one emotional benefit that has the greatest resonance with your target market and the unique selling proposition that best communicates that benefit. Sustained communication of the emotional benefit over time should ultimately convert your product to a brand, which is your end objective.

Branding vs. Survival

Effective branding helps companies stay profitable because they command higher prices for what they sell. Many small business owners fail to realize, however, that most alternatives to effective branding require competing on price. Price competition does not bode well for the long-term survival prospects of any business, especially small businesses. If you're considering executing a branding strategy to protect your business from the ravages of price competition, you may want to first discuss your project with a marketing professional who has specialized expertise in positioning and branding. The importance of a branding strategy to your business cannot be overstated, and it may justify the expense of getting professional help.