The raw truth is that you have no control over how your brand is actually perceived in someone’s mind. But, that doesn’t mean you can shrug it off and ignore the work needed to develop a position. Forging ahead without understanding how your brand is truly different—and hoping you connect with your target customer at the right time and place—is like a driverless Mac truck. Understanding how you would like your brand to be perceived makes your marketing decisions easier and more effective.
People often confuse a positioning statement with a tagline, which is part of your brand. When positioning comes first, insights gained from working through the strategy can be effectively worked into a tagline. In thinking about how you want your brand to be perceived, you can subtly steer your audience toward this goal if you let the positioning statement influence the tagline.
So, let’s get right to it. What’s the difference between branding and positioning? The key is exactly that—differentiation. A thorough positioning strategy will help you define this point of differentiation in light of your competitors. Branding does not take competitors into account—you are simply presenting who you are and (hopefully) what you do. Positioning statements are for internal use only and help you make informed decisions on steering your customer’s perception of your brand.