Key to telling your business's story is explaining what you do and how you're different.

Tell your business story better with a Brand Positioning Statement

I’m going to give you a hack that will improve how you tell your business’s story. It may even change your understanding of how your business should operate. It’s called a brand positioning statement. And it will show how to pitch your organisation quickly and clearly, in a way that captures the interest of your audience.

Whether you’re running an existing enterprise or just starting up, your mind is often a whirlwind of thoughts about what your business is, why it’s important and where it’s going. But to capture the essence of your story, there are 2 key components you need to communicate:

  1. What you do; and
  2. Why you’re different.

These might seem simple observations, but in the rush of day-to-day trading it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re here.

What you do

A surprising number of businesses have messaging that leaves customers confused about what the business actually does. I’m looking at you, management consultants…

Sometimes there’s too much jargon getting in the way. Or worse still, vague marketing slogans that don’t actually mean anything. Often that’s because the person who wrote it doesn’t yet understand the business well enough to explain it. Sometimes that writer may be the owner of the business. You may have set up shop relying on intuition and gut (and done it very well), but you’ve never had to sit down and articulate what it is you do.

But that’s okay. The exercise of writing your Brand Positioning Statement will help you do that.

Why you’re different

This is key, come decision time.

It’s very rare you’re the only player in your category. So how does a customer or investor choose who to give their money to? What sets you apart from the rest? What makes you different? Special?

Brand Positioning Statement template

So here it is, your new best friend. This simple template will help you define and distinguish your business. You can download a PDF here, to scribble on.

As you can see, the Brand Positioning Statement is essentially a sentence (our format is actually two sentences, but who’s counting). You just need to complete it by answering the prompts:

Your customer: Who are you targeting? Be as specific as you can. “Women 18-34”? “Small, family-owned businesses?”? “Large enterprises”? You may have more than one customer segment, each with distinct needs. In that case, you’ll write a Brand Positioning Statement for each of them.

Your customer’s problem: What is the problem in the customer’s life that your business solves? What is missing that they need filled?

Your business’s name: If I have to tell you that, we have bigger problems.

Your product or service: What industry or category are you in? For example “A bakery”, or “accounting software”.

What does it do: In simple, practical words, what does your product or service do? What function(s) does it perform? This section should answer the problem outlined earlier.

Your competitors: Who might your customer be considering giving their money to instead of you, to try to solve their problem?

How you do it differently: How do you solve the customer’s problem different from those competitors, in a way that means the customer will get more benefit using you?

Here’s one we prepared earlier.

To give you a clearer idea of what your sentences should sound like, here’s a Brand Positioning Statement for Sondo:

Sondo's Brand Positioning Statement reads "For socially progressive enterprises who are struggling to cut through to stakeholders in a busy world dominated by well established, old-school brands, Sondo is a creative marketing agency that offers a full suite of marketing services, from insightful brand strategy to killer creative campaigns, to engage your audience and boost your sales and social impact. Unlike traditional agencies, we’re not just here for the job - we’re here for your cause. We share your values, and specialise in overcoming the pain barriers most commonly encountered by ethical enterprises."

Some parting tips

We didn’t invent the Brand Positioning Statement. Google it and you’ll find lots of variations online. They’re all broadly similar, with a few twists here and there. Our approach is perhaps a bit different than most. To wrap up, we’ll explain how and why, because it highlights some useful tips that will help you get better results from this exercise:

We see this is an internal document.

Some guides suggest you’re writing the Brand Positioning Statement as a finished, polished piece of messaging – ready to become the intro section of your website. We suggest you don’t treat it that way. Think about this as “for your eyes only”. So it’s okay if it reads a bit messy to start with.

Because this exercise isn’t about making things sound catchy – it’s about clearly identifying for yourself the key marketing elements of your business:

  • who is your audience?;
  • what do they want?;
  • how does your product solve that?; and
  • how does it do it different and better than competitors?

You can turn those answers into external messages later, polishing your phrasing, making it punchy, cherry-picking and combining different parts to create your key messages.

But that’s later. For now, focus on just clearly articulating each answer for yourself. If you can do that, you’ve given yourself the framework to build all your brand and marketing.

We start with the audience.

It’s essential you think about your business from the customer’s point of view. Of course you think your business is amazing, but the customer doesn’t know who you are, what you do, or whether your product or service is relevant to them.

You have to make the customer care.

And the most effective way to do that is to show how your organisation benefits the thing the customer cares most about: themselves.

So we start putting the customer first in our thinking right from this exercise. Beginning with their problem, rather than your product or service. It’s an important compass for your thinking, and that’s a lot more important than grammar right now.

Start fresh.

You probably already have some marketing lines. Resist the urge to just look for spaces here to slot them in to your Brand Positioning Statement.

Instead, pause and think about each prompt. Then answer mindfully and honestly. If you have a catchy way of answering, that’s great. But it has to be a genuine answer to the question.

The danger of slotting in pre-existing messages is that you might just repeat past mistakes, describing what you do in a slogan that actually doesn’t explain anything at all.

Over to you…

Now it’s your turn. Give yourself a good hour to do this. Don’t rush through. By taking the time to think it through, you might make some surprising discoveries.

And embrace the mess. It’s okay if it sounds clunky to start with. Get a version down, then rewrite the bits that make you wince. Like your business itself, your messaging is something that will keep evolving over time.

So. What’s your story?

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