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Personal branding for career success
Personal branding for career success

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4 Positioning my brand

Once the brand and audience are clear, the marketing professionals’ next step is brand positioning.

Described image
Figure 6 Making your brand stand out

Kotler and Keller (2003, p.867) define brand positioning as ‘the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.’

The Branding Journal (Marion, n.d.), explains that ‘brand positioning describes how a brand is different from its competitors and where, or how, it sits in customers’ minds. A brand positioning strategy therefore involves creating brand associations in customers’ minds to make them perceive the brand in a specific way.’

The following examples of brand positioning, using brand taglines from past and present, illustrate different ways in which a brand might be positioned:

Table 1 Examples of brand positioning

Focus on the benefit

  • Volvo: ‘For life’
  • M&Ms: ‘Melts in your mouth and not in your hand’

Focus on the consumer

  • Facebook: ‘Helps you connect and share with the people in your life’
  • Sainsbury’s: ‘Live well for less’

Focus on how the company does business

  • Audi: ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (Advancement through technology)
  • Burger King: ‘Have it your way’

Focus on the competition

  • Apple: ‘Think different’
  • Avis: ‘We’re #2. We try harder’

As the more concise messages of social media marketing grow in popularity, taglines are used less frequently, but this categorisation of how to position a brand might be useful when considering your own personal brand. For example, you might:

  • a.emphasise the benefits a potential employer will gain from hiring you – highlighting the skills/knowledge/experience you bring to a role
  • b.focus on the employer as a consumer and explain how you can make their life easier
  • c.explain how you ‘do business’, e.g. showcasing your values and how they align with those of their organisation, or
  • d.clarify the ways in which you are better than your competitors (although it is important to do this in a way that doesn’t make you appear mean and overly competitive, as that can backfire).

Activity 5 My own brand perceptions

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Look at the following well-known brand names and list your observations of those brands in the box below each one. Don’t spend too long thinking about it, just write down any words that spring to mind:

1. Apple

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2. Amazon

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3. Tesco

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Discussion

Were your perceptions negative or positive?

Were they based on your personal experience of those brands or the way they are presented through their advertising, etc.?

Did you perceive them one way before you experienced them and then change your mind?

Once you have a personal experience of a brand, then your perceptions are based on a whole range of things, from interactions with company staff, to product reliability, etc. Prior to that, you are more likely to be influenced by the branding messages you see.

The same applies to potential employers. Until they meet you, they only have your job application, social media posts, what other people say about you, etc. to go on, so you must present your personal brand in a way that encourages them to get in touch.

Once a company has positioned its brand, it must then ensure that the messages it shares about that brand are consistent. This too has strong parallels with personal branding, as you’ll see in the final section this week.