If you’re reading this, you probably already have a good business idea. If not, here’s how to find one. And while finding a good business idea is the first step in the journey towards entrepreneurship; the second step is figuring out a way to position that business in the market so that it has the best chance to survive and thrive.
The key component in the branding process is actually positioning the brand. Positioning consists of configuring how you want your brand to be perceived in the market by consumers in comparison to competitors or similar brands.
Historically, there were only a few ways to position a brand in the market. And those with the largest advertising budgets typically were the dictators of where not only their brand— but also, where the less funded brands were positioned. However, with the pervasiveness of communication due to the internet—now more than ever—entrepreneurs and marketers have more control over how their brand will be positioned.
Here’s the best four positioning tactics to position your brand in today's market.
1. The Leader
The best position to solidify in any category or industry is that of the leader. It’s also the most challenging position to be in. That’s because as the leader, there’s always a brand that’s gunning to knock you out of your position. However, with that being said, that’s what many entrepreneurs would consider as a good problem to have.
That's because it’s far better to be the leader—than the brand chasing the leader.
Here’s a few ways to be the leader of a category:
Be the first to enter the category and fend off all competitors.
Oust the incumbent leader by providing more value or perceived value.
Claim your brand is the leader of a category and convince enough people that it is.
Regardless of which method you use to be the leader of a category, always remember that it’s the spot that’s the most coveted in any profitable category. So you must be prepared to defend your position at all times from competitors, both big and small.
It's imperative that you always remind your audience that your brand is the leader because perception is often reality in the mind of the consumer. By claiming the leadership position in a category, it can become reality if your marketing mix aligns with your claim.
2. The Contrarian
If you cannot be the leader of a category, a great position to take is that of the contrarian. A contrarian brand is a brand that positions itself to be the total opposite of the leader of its category.
For example: Let’s say Mary started an athletic apparel brand named 'Epimoní,' and wanted her brand to appeal to every day athletes. Mary could position her brand as the opposite of the leader in the athletic apparel category—which is Nike, by only appealing to athletes that are frugal.
And while Nike uses professional athletes to endorse their brand; Epimoní could articulate its differences by only using every day people that are physically active—while also making the brand’s apparel more affordable and highlighting the price difference in all of the brand’s advertising.
A brand could seize the contrarian category by challenging the leader and realizing that victory is improbable. Or, by simply starting off as being the complete opposite of the leader in the category.
Keep in mind, that for every leader in a category, there’s a group of consumers that'll dislike either its pricing, product, or promotion. Which makes taking the position as the contrarian so appealing—because you can actually become a leader of the opposing category by default if you stake your claim as the clear opposite of the leader.
A brand could also position itself as a contrarian by being more expensive or high-end than the incumbent leader. A great example of this is how Chipotle positioned itself as being the more authentic alternative to Taco Bell. By staking this claim, Chipotle is able to charge more for the same items—while Taco Bell is still the leader in the Mexican fast-food category in the U.S.
3. The Isolated
Another good position to carve out for your brand is to be part of what I call 'The Isolated.' Isolated brands are so niche that it’s almost as if they’re on their own island. They’re part of categories, but they’re so far in the corners of those categories that they don’t have to worry about others attempting to conquer their island.
Here’s a few examples of how you could isolate your brand:
Let’s say that you love dogs and you wanted to start a dog grooming business. The dog grooming business is kind of occupied at the moment. So there’s really no isolation there.
However, if you were to start a dog grooming business that only groomed Pit Bulls—your brand would be in an isolated category. You could go even further on the island by only serving dog owners that have a particular breed of Pit Bulls.
Here’s another example of an actual isolated brand that made it all the way to ABC’s Shark Tank television show: Twist It Up is a company that specializes in selling combs specifically for African Americans with long kinky natural hair (Afro). The product was so narrow, that the company’s founder, Noel Durity, was able to secure a deal with sharks Mark Cuban and Daymond John for $225,000 for 25% equity in the brand.
In branding, it often pays to be alone.
4. The Remora
If you're unfamiliar with the remora, its remora the fish you always see swimming alongside large sharks in the ocean. At first glance, you’d probably wonder why the shark the remora follows so closely doesn’t just make a quick snack out of the small fish.
The reason the shark doesn’t eat the remora—is because the remora has proven itself to be very beneficial to the shark by removing parasites from the shark’s skin as well as from the shark’s mouth.
Therefore, it’s much more valuable for the shark to keep the remora around—as opposed to devouring it. Which puts the remora in a great position, because it gets free meals by eating the leftovers from whatever the shark eats. It also gets protection from other predators in the sea by being adjacent to the shark.
This same logic applies to brand positioning. A remora brand is a brand that’s adjacent to a much larger brand—while helping the larger brand and itself—by feeding off the scraps the larger brand cannot eat.
Examples of remora brands are brands that sell products specifically on Amazon or production companies that make videos specifically to monetize on YouTube.
In order to create a successful remora brand, you must position yourself next to the larger brand and make life easier for the larger brand by being valuable enough that it would be in the larger brand’s best interest to keep you around instead of devouring you.
Case in point, brands that sell products on Amazon—help Amazon become bigger. The same goes for content creators that post videos on YouTube. Since both of those respective companies benefit from the brands that use their platforms—they allow them to feed off of them.
As as a remora brand, as long as you're okay with your position and do not threaten the sharks your brand feeds off of, you'll always have food and protection as long as the shark is around. As long as you don’t become a threat to the larger brand—you can live very comfortably.