Position yourself, if you want to stand out

Brand Positioning

Charles Chen Jiang Li

There was a time when Nike and Adidas would be all most people think of if you mentioned sports brands, but the marque on everybody’s lips recently has been Under Armour. What distinguishes UA’s brand positioning from that of its two big brothers?

Although all three brands focus on their professional technology, the first two both rely on legendary athletes – demi-gods like Michael Jordan and David Beckham – for endorsements, while Under Armour, using the slogan “I Will what I Want”, has chosen players and dancers such as Stephen Curry and Misty Copeland who are perceived as underdogs. UA’s message is that you don’t need to be perfect from the outset; you can become what you want through unstinting effort. Under Armour’s unique brand positioning has come as a refreshing change to consumers, striking a chord and boosting its popularity.

In an era of scientific and technological innovation, the knowledge economy and digital networks, companies face competition that is not only local, but global. In a market environment that is in constant flux, firms have to deliver brand value concisely and consistently while also ensuring that the position they occupy in the hearts of customers can see off all their competitors – a daunting challenge for any brand-keeper.

Having observed global brands and assisted in the branding process for companies of every kind, Process Brand Evolution knows that successful brands invariably have a clear position; in other words, “brand positioning” is an essential aspect of brand-building.

How can a company attain a good market position by adopting clear brand positioning? Besides the usual business activities of gathering information, conducting market research, analyzing the competition, constructing a customer journey and defining a target audience, the following three points – often overlooked – are critical:

1. Alignment with corporate culture and values – Communication and design of any product or service must be consistent with the company’s corporate culture and brand spirit. Otherwise it cannot be sustainably developed.

2. Resolute implementation – Once the brand position has been identified, it is essential it is consistently applied in any subsequent marketing plans, distribution arrangements, communications of product/service core competitive advantages etc.

3. Employee recognition factor – Both back office staff and front-line employees who interact directly with customers need to convey the spirit of the brand in a concise, consistent, and reliable manner. Employees are the best brand ambassadors, so building up employees’ brand recognition is a pre-requisite for earning consumers’ support and trust in the brand.