Differentiating your business through brand positioning

When you run your small business you are often too close to it to see it how potential customer see it. You know everything about what makes you different and better than your competition. But are your customers aware of this? This is where brand positioning comes in.

The temptation is often to describe what you do, rather than what you do differently. You might have a hair salon, and when you advertise you tell people you do great cutting, styling and sell hair care products. But this is what they call ‘table stakes’, or in other words, you wouldn’t be a hair salon if you didn’t offer this.

Instead you should decide what it is that your brand stands for – if people were to describe your business what would they say?  Then what do you need to do make this seem credible to your potential new customers. One way is to promote things that are unique to you that support what you want to stand for. Maybe you stay open later, or have the best coffee in town, or offer a free neck and head massage with a hair wash. You obviously want these to be very appealing to customers, but even if someone is not a coffee drinker the subliminal cues are that you really care about the customer experience and offer a quality service.

There are 3 key things to need to consider when positioning your brand.

  1. Differentiation: is it different to your competitors? You need to do your homework to really understand what your competitors do and do well.
  2. Competence:  is it something you do well? There is nothing more harmful to a business than over-promising and under-delivering.
  3. Customer appeal: is it something your customers want? As said previously, this can be directly (great coffee with a hair cut) or indirectly (a great customer experience).


This might not be immediately obvious, so create lists under each of these headings. The best way to go about this is to start with what customers would find appealing or valuable. Then look at how you can offer this in a way that is different to competitors. And lastly develop competence through training or an investment in equipment.

Once you have found this magic sweet spot, this is what you use as your advertising message.

And remember, you don’t have to appeal to everyone all the time. You just have to make sure enough people want what you offer so that you have a successful business.


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