positioning, messaging, customer-centric, growth, strategy, competitive advantage, competitiveness, market research, brandIn today’s highly competitive business landscape, standing out from the crowd is essential for success. A robust positioning framework can be the key to achieving this goal. By formulating customer-centric messages that resonate with your target audience, you can create a unique identity and solidify your position in the market. Without distinctive positioning, companies and products risk becoming mere commodities, blending into a sea of options, and losing customers because there is no compelling reason to choose their company rather than their competitors.

On average, customers consider 2-4 brands during their purchase decision process. Make sure they choose you.

In this article, we will delve into the role and attributes of a positioning framework and message map and provide real-world examples to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Best Way to Win Hearts & Minds? Better Positioning and Messaging

The term ‘Positioning’ was coined in 1969 by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their paper “Positioning is a game people play in today’s me-too marketplace.” They explained that positioning is the battle for the mind which became the title for their very popular book, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

Let’s be sure we’re on the same page about what positioning is and isn’t. Positioning is not a vague aspiration or sales copy; it is a well-defined, internal-only document that:

  • Outlines a company’s current position in the market.
  • Goes beyond describing what you wish to be.
  • Focuses on the attributes that truly matter to your target market.
  • Includes claims you can genuinely own.

Attract & Acquire More Customers with Customer-Centric Positioning & Messaging

A powerful positioning strategy requires an outside-in customer-centric approach. It requires thorough market research to form, validate, and fine-tune yourpositioning, messaging, customer-centric, growth, strategy, competitive advantage, competitiveness, market research, brand positioning platform. Understanding your customers, their pain points, and what sets you apart from competitors is fundamental to crafting a compelling positioning framework.

Messaging is a vital component of the positioning framework, serving as the bridge between your position and content creation. The messaging you develop should be rooted in customer-centricity, and take into account the needs, desires, and preferences of your prospective and existing customers. When done poorly, messaging can have long-lasting negative effects, alienating potential customers and damaging your brand’s reputation.

Because positioning and messaging are the foundation for your promise and therefore your brand strategy, in addition to being relevant and compelling, your positioning and messaging need to be authentic and engender trust.

  • According to a survey by Salsify, 46 percent of customers say that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust.
  • A Stackla study found that 88 percent of customers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support.
  • The Lucidpress study found that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of businesses say brand consistency has contributed to revenue growths of 10 percent or more.

A solid positioning framework and a well-structured message map are essential tools for effective communication and branding, ultimately accelerating growth. These tools help organizations clearly define their value proposition, target audience, and key messaging. Let’s delve into the attributes of a great positioning framework and message map.

6 Proven Attributes of a Successful Positioning Framework

Over 25 years, we have found that there are 6 essential attributes of a great positioning framework:

1. Clarity: A strong positioning framework should provide a clear and concise statement that defines the unique value and differentiation of a product, service, or brand. It should answer the question: “What sets us apart?”

2. Customer-Centric: The framework should align with the needs and preferences of the target audience. It should address the specific pain points, desires, and aspirations of customers, ensuring that the messaging resonates with them.

3. Sustainability: A positioning framework should be relevant over time and adaptable to changes in the market and industry trends. It should not rely solely on fleeting trends but should have a lasting impact.

4. Credibility: The framework should be rooted in authenticity and the organization’s actual capabilities. Empty promises or exaggerated claims can erodepositioning, messaging, customer-centric, growth, strategy, competitive advantage, competitiveness, market research, brand trust and damage the brand’s reputation.

5. Competition Aware: A great positioning framework should acknowledge the competitive landscape and highlight what sets your organization apart from your competitors. It should emphasize the unique value that your organization brings to the table.

6. Emotionally Resonant: Beyond features and benefits, the framework should evoke emotions that connect with your customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders on a deeper level. Emotional resonance helps create lasting brand loyalty and engagement.

6 Proven Attributes of a Successful Message Map

Once you have your positioning framework, the next step is to build your message map. Here are the 6 essential attributes of a great message map.

1. Hierarchical: A message map is comprised of a clear hierarchy of claims and evidence/proof points.

2. Alignment: Messaging is derived from your positioning framework and should align seamlessly with the positioning framework.

3. Value-based: Each message should reinforce the unique value and differentiation of the brand or product and help build a cohesive brand image and a recognizable identity across various communication channels and touchpoints.

4. Customer-Centric: Just like the positioning framework, the message map should cater to the needs, interests, and pain points of your stakeholders. It should especially speak directly to your customer’s concerns and aspirations.

5. Clarity: Clarity matters with messaging too. Keep your messages clear, concise, and easily digestible. Avoid jargon and complex language.

6. Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to messaging. Regardless of where they are in the customer journey, the message they receive should remain consistent. This cohesion builds trust and reinforces the unique value proposition you offer.

A good message map evolves over time based on feedback, testing, and insights. Regularly review and refine the messages to ensure they are resonating with the audience.

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What Does Great Positioning Look Like? 3 Great Examples

Knowing what goes into positioning and messaging is all well and good, but let’s bring it to life with these three well-known brands:

1. Apple Inc. – Apple’s positioning framework revolves around the theme of “Think Different.” By highlighting its innovative and user-friendly products, Apple successfully positions itself as a brand for creative individuals who dare to challenge the status quo. Their messaging consistently reinforces the idea that Apple empowers people to break boundaries and unleash their potential.

2. Tesla – Tesla’s positioning framework centers on sustainability and cutting-edge technology. They have carved a niche as a premium electric vehicle manufacturer catering to environmentally conscious consumers who seek performance and luxury without compromising on their ecological footprint. Tesla’s messaging consistently emphasizes its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.


3. Nike – Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan is a cornerstone of its positioning framework. It appeals to athletes and fitness enthusiasts who aspire to greatness and overcoming obstacles. Nike’s messaging inspires consumers to embrace an active lifestyle.

Whether creating positioning and a message map for a new product or company or revising it for an existing product or company, with the attributes examples in hand, you’re ready to tackle this initiative.

The 4 Principles of Better Positioning & Messaging

One of the primary purposes of positioning and messaging is to set you apart and help you stand out in the market. With that in mind, follow these four basic principles to develop your positioning framework:

1. Understand Your Customers: Positioning is ultimately about attracting and engaging customers.  Conduct extensive research to understand your prospective and existing customers, their pain points, preferences, and aspirations. Use surveys, interviews, and data analytics to gather valuable insights.

2. Perform Competitive Analysis: No company is an island. Competitors, whether it’s the status quo, lurk everywhere. Identify your competitors’positioning, messaging, customer-centric, growth, strategy, competitive advantage, competitiveness, market research, brand positioning strategies to discover gaps and opportunities. Find what attributes your brand can genuinely claim as unique.

3. Craft Customer-Centric Messages: Create messages that resonate with your audience, addressing their needs and values. Ensure these messages are consistent across all customer touchpoints.

4. Test and Fine-Tune: Continuously test and refine your positioning framework based on feedback and market responses. Stay adaptable and open to improvement.

When you embrace a customer-centric approach to positioning and messaging, and consistently deliver on promises you will stand out in today’s competitive business landscape.

Proper Positioning Improves Both the Top and Bottom Line

A solid positioning framework and a well-structured message map work in tandem to create a strong foundation for a brand’s communication strategy. Together they directly impact both the top and bottom lines. Brands that effectively differentiate themselves through positioning and emotionally connect to stakeholders often garner more loyalty, advocacy, acquire new customers faster, and can command a premium price. Think about what Apple can charge for a phone! These brands often have an advantage when entering new markets or bringing new products/services to market. By effectively communicating unique customer-centric value propositions, fostering customer trust, and differentiating from competitors, a well-positioned brand can achieve higher revenue growth and profitability.

We have deep expertise in helping companies create positioning frameworks and message maps for new companies and products or revising them for an existing product or company.


Have questions? We have great answers.

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