Brand Positioning Statements - Getting Them Right (Print Version)

Brand positioning statements are supposed to help with your:

    • brand planning – by providing the long term direction for your brands

    • brand education – by enabling your employees outside of marketing to understand what you are trying to accomplish with each of your brands

In practice, most brand positioning statements perform both tasks poorly. They do little for brand planning, and not much more for brand education. In order to get brand positioning statements that work, we need to follow the same “CDW rule” as for mission statements. (See Mission Statements – Getting Them Right to learn more about the CDW rule.) In the case of brand positioning statements this rule is that they should be:

    • concise

    • differentiate each of your brands

Above all, executives should:

    • walk the talk in their brand positioning statements


Brand positioning statements should be concise. This matters, because the longer a brand positioning statement is, the less likely people are to remember it. To illustrate this point, how many people do you know outside marketing who can recite any of your organization’s current brand positioning statements?

The lesson here is quite simple - keep your brand positioning statements concise. In practice, a brand positioning statement should be no more than one sentence, so that it can assist both with brand planning, and with brand education.

Differentiate each of your brands

Differentiate each of your brands in your brand positioning statements. I recommend that every brand positioning statement includes not merely who should buy the brand and why they should buy it, but also the competitive uniqueness of the brand from a customer perspective.

Unfortunately, all too many organizations water down this competitive uniqueness with bland words such as “quality” and “leadership”, failing to differentiate one brand from another. Undifferentiated brand positioning statements fail to give employees any kind of direction for their brands, and thus are ineffective in guiding brand planning and in brand education.

Successful brand positioning statements are finely tuned to the strategic direction of each brand, and thereby differentiate their brands, while leaving clear water between each brand. Successful brand positioning statements make it clear to everyone what the rationale is for each brand, and are therefore effective in guiding both brand planning and brand education.

Walk the talk

The key issue that brand positioning statements face is that all too many executives just do not walk the talk in their brand positioning statements. This is crucial. Walk the talk – if you want results from your brand positioning statements.

For example, if you have a brand positioning statement which includes “safety” as a brand descriptor, it is essential for every executive associated with the brand to make sure that everything done on the brand focuses on safety – including managers in product development, manufacturing, purchasing, etc. It is essential for all executives to follow the directions in their brand positioning statements if they are to be effective tools for both brand planning and for employee brand education.

Using the CDW rule

It takes effort to develop brand positioning statements that are concise and which differentiate your brands. It takes even more effort to get your fellow executives to walk the talk in your brand positioning statements. But by using the CDW rule you, too, can make your brand positioning statements into something that will help your organization succeed at brand planning, at brand education, and above all with your customers.