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  • Writer's pictureNour Boustani


Pause for a second, and take a look at your product, take a deep breath, and be honest. Now tell me, does it look cheap?

How about your business? Do me a favor and look at your store or website, how does it look? Does it look or feel cheap comparing to other successful and well-known brands? Do people keep going on negotiating lower prices with you over and over, no matter how hard you try to push back? If yes, then my dear, we got a problem with your brand positioning.

What is positioning?

Ever wondered why people don’t dare to negotiate the price of a Chanel bag? a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, what’s about a Rolex watch? How on earth did they pull it off?

The simple definition of positioning

I could tell you what positioning is, or I can make you feel it, I prefer the latter, so let’s do something a little bit out of your comfort zone, shall we?

I want you to try an experiment for me; at the end of this experiment, you will obviously experience the mind-blowing meaning of positioning, and you will diffidently nail it down.

Starting from today, I want you to dress like a professional businessman or woman;

I want you to carry yourself with confidence and talk with a sharp and confident tone.

If people want to meet you, insist on having an appointment with a specific time and date that fits your agendas, if they gave you time, do not say “no problem,” 80% of the time apologize for not being available and politely push people away or down the line, suggest different time options that put you in control.

When you have to meet with someone, arrive two minutes in advance, and politely insist that the other person must be precisely on time as well, notify them that in advance, and if they don’t be on time, leave after 5 minutes.

When you meet them, let them do most of the talking and you listen, tell stories about successful projects you did with clients (don’t over exaggerate, don’t be arrogant, just be cool.)

Read business news, and share insights with the people that you meet, show deep expertise even if a little, but before that, make sure that you did your homework and no-nonsense B.S.

Do that consistently for a month, then observe how people will perceive and try to talk to you, most of your meetings will be cut 80% by the way because most of them were not serious or necessary in the first place.

What I’m asking you to do here is to set a new standard and raise the bar when it comes to people dealing with you.

Let people realize that doing business with you must be productive, let them feel that you are serious, your time is valuable, just do it politely, simply position yourself as a scarce, effective, and valuable person, you don’t have to be an Ass hole about it.

However, if you don’t like the first experiment, perhaps you could try the next one.

Try to do the opposite of the first experiment, dress poorly, talk poorly, carry yourself poorly, have no respect for time, be available every time, and most importantly, stretch yourself so thin and try to please everyone.

Keep talking about all the failures of your past, complain about politics, the economy, the people, blame everything including yourself, apologize for everything, simply position yourself as a commodity then see how people would perceive you.

This is positioning at its core; you could be the same person “physically,” but acting with different mindsets “mentally” and be perceived in two opposite ways “visually.”

In the first situation, you were “self-aware” enough to position your-self high, you understand the value of quality and scarcity, so people would appreciate and desire your worth and value.

On the other hand, in the second situation, you are perceived with taking no extra care and effort toward your actions; you are seen as immature, sloppy, and not as fully developed professional.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to be James Bond or Scarlett Johansson all the time, you could look as casual as you want, as long as it’s appropriate with the context of your business, and as long as it pulls you away from being average, and sets up for being different, in business average is a gray area, a noise in the background, you don’t want that, do whatever it takes to stay out of this zone.

“Positioning is the perception of who you are in the eyes of the beholder.”

Do you think that Dior, Apple, and Ferarri are perceived as expensive and powerful brands all by luck? Do you believe that they could pull it off all by chance? Think again.

Don’t argue yourself into believing that it’s about cash power; it’s diffidently not; look around you; there are so many brands with the same power of capital, yet they can not pull it off when it comes to positioning, they have a wishy-washy execution mindset, which gets them to nowhere but to be lost in the paradox of the crowded market.

I want you to close your eyes and think of your business as a Hollywood movie; I want you to think of yourself as the movie director, and think of your customers as your audience, everything else is just the story.

My job is to shape you into a better director, so you can imagine better movies that attract and bring in customers with the power of emotions and feelings.

Most people react subconsciously to what you put in front of them and how you behave toward them.

If you wear funny costumes and tell funny jokes, they can not resist but laugh, if you wear a black dress, black shoes, black sunglasses, walk with confidence, they can not ignore the fact that you are sharp, confident, and unapproachable.

This is a simple human perception mechanism, and it all works on a subconscious level; most of us are unaware of it, we just react to it, you must learn how to leverage its power.

You only need to design the right environment, build the right set, bring the right actors, say the right script, do the right set of actions, and you can certainly trigger the desired reaction.

Try another experiment for me, please.

Gift your partner for no reason a bunch of beautiful flowers the type they like the most, be it red roses or white lilies, give it to them slowly then look straight into their eyes and say: “honey, thank you for everything, I love you.”

Gently imprint a soft and warm kiss on their cheek or lips, the one that comes out of deep love, then wait, tell me later how they react.

You must come to realize that positioning, marketing, and branding are only perceptions, fantasies, and stories of pleasurable experiences.

Most brands use such techniques to create the illusion of making people perceive a product at a much higher value.

Fantasies and perceptions make people joyful on the outside, even if they feel that they were fooled on the inside.

It just makes it much easier to justify their desires and ego instead of being faced with the harsh reality.

It’s challenging to sell something at a much higher value unless you make them believe that it worth a much higher value.

After all a mobile phone is just a phone, a jacket or a purse, are just a jacket and a purse, but the difference is, how successful brands understand the conversation that goes inside the customer’s mind, and it goes like this:

“I’m beautiful; I’m special, I’m worthy, I will buy whatever it takes to make me look and feel different, more powerful, healthier, wealthier, and more loved.

But to feel different, I must be different. Therefore, not everyone can dress like me, look like me, and be in places like me.”

Guess what, when someone goes into this conversation in their minds, do you think they care about buy 1 get 1 for free or get 70% off on your next purchase?

They care about one thing, and one thing only, exclusivity!

This means premium prices, high-end designers, limited editions, and the prestigious brand image that supports this mindset and perception; everything else falls into small details.

There is a halo effect around the brand’s image that pushes people away or inspires their dreams and desires, many don’t even dare to get inside the store in the first place; and to others, it’s a dram, they will work hard and save, or get into debt to afford such a lifestyle, but to the wealthy, it’s just an everyday lifestyle.

On the other hand, Zara is positioned pretty successfully when it comes to the majority of the people, affordable, deep discounts, a vast seasonally collection, and the overall feeling is inviting.

A businesswoman or man who drives Lamborghini or Ferrari would not be interested in such a brand; to them, the quality and the availability of the products are way under their radar. Some might not be aware of a brand called Zara at all. Both types of customers live in two different universes.

How to position your brand

Positioning is not about serving the wealthy or the ordinary; far from that, successful positioning, if done right, is about building your brand, product, and marketing, so it attracts the right customer, the customer that you intended to serve in the first place.

It all begins with the 4p’s of marketing.

Understand the 4P’s of marketing

The 4P’s, Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion are the core skeleton of every business for positioning, and they should work together hand in hand to deliver a consistent message to the customer, it’s just like the human body, all parts and organs should work together for your body to function, it’s not about one specific part or the other, it’s about the whole.

So let me explain to you a little what these 4p’s mean.

  1. Product: The quality and perceived value of the product which includes its Ingredients, materials, function, and design.

  2. Price: The price point of your product, is it cheap, on a budget or premium.

  3. Placement: The distribution channel of your product which includes luxury retail stores, general merchandise retailer, online stores, and retailers.

  4. Promotion: How do you promote and associate your product; Luxury or deep discount.

Let’s look at an example:


Dior: They make the ingredients of Dior Perfumes of high-quality materials. The design of the bottle and the packaging are beautifully made to be perceived as a premium perfume product.

Commodity Brand: They make the ingredients out of cheap alcohol and chemical components; the bottle is poorly designed and made of inferior quality plastic.


Dior: Priced in the range of $80 to $120 per bottle.

Commodity Brand: Priced in the range of  $3 to $8 per bottle.


Dior: Only sells at Dior or luxury retail stores such as Sephora.

Commodity Brand: Sells at Walmart, Amazon, Carrefour, and general merchandise retailer.


Dior: Luxury fashion magazine, celebrities partnership, fashion show, Tv Commercials.

Commodity Brand: Deep discounts, buy one, get one for free.

To send the right message to the right customer, the 4P’s have to work with the brand image and the customer’s sensual perception.

You rarely see that a customer visits Walmart to buy a Dior perfume and expect to get it at a 50% discount.

Most brands are all over the place when it comes positioning, they are mostly  unclear to the end customer, which causes the customer to think “what the heck does this brand sell or do, and who is it for, is it for me? I’m not sure.

That kind of frustration will cause the customer on quitting on your brand, probably forever.

So now that you understand the core structure of your brand, realize that there is no right or wrong position to take in the marketplace, however, you should consciously plan for your positioning and align all of your effort to send a consistent message to the right customer.

Talking about the right customer would make you realize that everything we do in business has to be built around a specific group of customers and you should by now know consciously that customers are different, they are not the same, not even close, different people have different wants, needs, desires, interests, income level and beliefs.

Don’t fall into the mistake of trying to please everyone and ending with pleasing no one, not even yourself.

A small business should always focus its effort on solving a problem or serving a need and want for a specific group of people.

To do that, you should first get to know the types of customers that the market offers, then design your 4p’s to send the right signal to the group of people taking into consideration the financial and intellectual resources to serve.

Meaning if you are a small business with low-capital, you would exhaust your resources so quickly if you try to go after commodity and low-margin customers.

And If you have the skills and expertise to serve a premium customer. but devalue your brand and serve a commodity customer, then you would leave good margins on the table which will limit your capital resource to hire talented people, spend more on prestigious marketing and develop your business into a premium brand.

The four types of customers

1. Lowest-price customers

This group of customers is more interested in the lowest-price, wide product variations, and cheapest deals possible, and it’s for a simple reason, they live on a minimal budget.

When you are a small business you can’t serve them, it’s tough to survive on low margins, leave that to Walmart, Amazon, and large brands.

Most of the small businesses subconsciously send their marketing message to attract this group of people because they mostly came out of this group of customers, which makes them come from a place of empathy.

You are not your customer, keep that voice and message repeating in your mind whenever you try to devalue your brand, your job is not to worry about people’s budget, that’s the job of non-profit organizations or mega-large brands.

Your job as a small business owner is to drive your business to high profit while delivering value and to make your business to flourish, however, if you are nice enough and care to help you can always find charitable ways to help but that should not be the primary purpose of your profit-oriented business.

2. Value customers

This group of customers is made of highly sophisticated hunters, and they look for the value of the product, be it function or style, mostly not concerned about the emotional aspect of your brand, they do tons of research, and they know exactly what they want.

They look for the best value to price; you actually can not cheat them with your positioning, hard to sell unless you genuinely know what they have in mind, if they find the value in your product, they will save the money to buy it.

3. Emotional customers

This group of customers are the easiest to sell if you know how to talk them into your brand, they mostly buy according to emotions and feelings, primarily not interested in researching for all the small details of a specific car, purse, or product, just gimme that damn car or purse.

Prestigious brands or brands who try to look and feel expensive, spend most of their budget to position themselves and create the illusion to serve this kind of customer because they understand that to this group of people It’s not only about being a wealthy person, but a person of values, sophistication, and social status.

Keep in mind that most of these types of customers go into credit card debt or consume their income to afford such a high-lifestyle. Those people care about ego, high self-esteem, and significant life experiences; I would serve them all day long, less needy and demanding, and much higher margins.

Be very careful of the level of attention to detail, the level of customer service, and make sure to always communicate the values and purpose of your brand, you can not behave poorly and expect high margins in returns.

4. Sophisticated on a budget customer

This group of customers is a segment that every small business should fall in love with, a group of “modernized” and “globalized” of people.

They value human rights and values, healthy lifestyle and eco-system, fair pay and labor, racial, ethnic equality, and gender inclusion.

They come from different small minorities and groups such as the gay community “pride”, women’s right community, animals right community, creative group communities such as artists and musicians, and well school-educated families.

They appreciate the quality of the product, its purpose and origin story over its low-price or its brand name.

What’s beautiful about this group of customers is that they care little about big brands, mostly not brand loyal at all, which makes it easier for you as a small business to compete on quality and story rather than being stuck on competing on price.

Think of them as a combination of value-oriented and emotional customers, but buy within a specific and affordable budget, nowadays brands segment them as low to mid-end premium customers.

For a small business that operates on a small scale, this is heaven. Instead of trying to spread yourself way-to-thin and compete on price, you can leverage your resources to serve a frustration, an unmet need, or gap in the market for a specific group of this segment, then charge a more premium price.

Brands such as Levi’s have already realized the power of the “pride” community and slowly evolving their products and marketing messages to specifically serve and target this group of audience.

Remember that to sell to this group of customers you need to focus on lifestyle, quality, human values, authenticity, and be able to justify your price.

Now that you understand the four types of customers and the 4P’s of marketing, you should by now at least have an idea about how to attract the right customer.

In the next section, I will take you through the “nitty-gritty” and details of positioning, give you the right tools and tactics so you can structure your brand correctly and bring it back on the right track.

“Every movie requires a script, every magic requires a trick, and every brand story requires an idea to stick.”

The 9 Elements Of Positioning

To position your brand correctly in the eyes of your customers, there are few elements and principles. If you take them into consideration will give your brand clarity, unity, and strength in the perception of the customer.

1. Authority

If you want to be respected and listened to in your industry, then you have to be the authority in your market, you must set up yourself to be perceived as “The expert or the go-to person” of your niche.

Authority for experts means that you are one of the tops at what you do, people listen to what you say and they repeatedly ask for your consultation without questioning your background.

This might require you to give-away and share almost everything you know at low or no cost in exchange for establishing your platform and brand.

2. Credibility and social proof

When you get endorsed by other people, media, and experts, your credibility will boost.

In real life, I can see you, and you can see me, we could establish a gut feeling toward each other, but on the internet, things are different; we rely on other references as a quick shortcut to do a background check of a brand or a public figure.

The stronger your network is, the more trustworthy and credible you would be perceived, and once trust is established, everything else becomes faster and simpler.

Purple® Mattress

3. Consistency

Consistency is critical when it comes to sending the right signal and message to the right person, when people get used to the feeling of your brand, they can predict the experience, price, quality, and theme of your business, predictability means credibility, there are no surprises or opportunities to get ripped off.

4. Brand archetypes

Archetypes are the personalities and attitudes of a brand, a character if you will, without an archetype, a brand is a soulless and lifeless collection of products and services.

The 12 Types of brands archetypes

1. The Innocent

Innocent brands communicate optimism, purity, and honesty; their goal is to deliver happiness and avoid being evil, innocent brands must treat their audience with clarity and full transparency, mostly seen in industries such as food, body care products, and kids related activities, an example of such brand is Disney.

2. The Explorer

Explorer brands communicate adventure; their goal is to push and support their audience to discover every corner around the world, this type of archetype should provide their audience with reliable, highly efficient, and easy-to-use products, mostly seen in travel-related products and services, an example of such brand is Land Rover.


3. The Sage

Sage brands communicate wisdom, knowledge, and truth, they try to play an essential role in media, culture, and education, they’re surrounded by an audience who speaks the language of reasoning and facts, mostly seen in education or news-related services, an example of such brand is Khan Academy.

4. The Hero

Hero brands communicate strength, endurance, and achievement, their mission is to push people to achieve higher and harder goals they try to go beyond the limit of an average person accomplishment, followers of this type of brand perceive themselves as a hero or tend to think as nothing is impossible, their duty is to protect and save the world, mostly seen in sports and energy drinks industry, an example of such brands is Nike.

5. The Outlaw

Outlay brands communicate freedom of expression, they are made to change and go against rules that stop them from gaining what they want; they rely on destruction and revenge to attain their goals, an example of such brands is Harley-Davidson.

6. The Caregiver

Caregiver brands communicate peace, they are earth savers; they provide safety to earth, animals, and humans, this kind of brands try to avoid or hide the subject of profit and business, mostly seen in health insurance, education, an example of such brand is Volvo.

7. The Magician

The magician presents their products and services through a sense of rapid transformation; they have a long-term vision into the future, they want to change their audience behaviors and the way they interact with the world by providing high-tech tools that empower individuals, mostly seen in technology and rapidly developing industries, an example of such brands is Intel.

8. The Ruler

Rulers are all about power, monopoly, and control; they desire wealth, order, and efficiency; they want to dominate the entire market, mostly seen in industries such as real estate, banks, fashion; these brands’ customers desire power. They are willing to pay whatever price it takes to look powerful and wealthy, an example of such brands is Rolex.

9. The Regular Brand

Everyone is equal; regular guy brands connect people, simple yet comfortable and cheap to buy and use, they avoid to be a specific brand for a small segment of people, the brand strategy relies on efficiency and low pricing, design and visual communication suit the majority of people taste, mostly seen in everyday products industry, an example of such brands is Visa cards.

10. The Creator 

Creator brands are created to innovate, inspire and connect with people’s emotions through creativity and artistry; they tend to perfect all the small details of their products and services, mostly seen in industries related to art, music, and creativity, an example of such brands is Lego.

11. The Lover

Lover brands communicate love, friendship, and sensual desires; they inspire people to be together and have high emotions toward each other, mostly focus on the outlook of things, physical and visual attractiveness. An example of such brands is Häagen-Dazs.

12. The Jester

Jesters are all about fun! Their goal is to get people out of their daily lifestyle and bring joy into it; this type of brand heavily depends on characters, visual, and environment design to support their brand story and experience. An example of such a brand is m&m’s.

5. Sensual-Perception

Your brand of sensual-perception, including touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Should align perfectly with the level and quality of your positioning, The experience of McDonald does not reflect a five stars food restaurant; the experience of Dolce and Gabbana does not reflect a cheap casual wear store.

6. Level Of Service

What is the difference between shopping at ZARA versus Chanel? In each one of those stores, you would be treated differently, while at ZARA, and because it’s cost-effective, they minimize the numbers of staff and leave you alone to wander around and serve yourself.

At Chanel, you get greeted and escorted at the door with a professional gentleman or a beautiful and elegant lady explicitly positioned to serve you and make the entire shopping experience incredibly pleasurable.

7. Attention For Details


What happens when you produce average quality products? No matter how much you try to promote it, you can only sell it to ordinary people at an average price, regardless of the quality of your customers’ service and brand experience, what makes a high-end brand positioned high is their extreme attention to small details.

8. Scarcity and exclusivity

How do you make something more valuable? Well-positioned brands understand the value of making things scarce. Exclusivity and a premium price are a must, try to be available to everyone at every time, and see how your value is lost immediately.

Note: I’m not a fan of using animals’ skin to produce products, I’m only showing this because Hermes is an excellent example of applying scarcity into marketing.

9. Pricing

What if I offer you a Gucci bag for a $50 or at 50% discount? What would be your first reaction? Would you buy it? Or would you think that I’m tricking you into purchasing a counterfeit product?

Do you know that people who buy Gucci would resist buying Gucci again if the brand announced that it would be selling their bags at $50?

The value of Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, or any luxurious brand is not only in the bag itself but in the prestige and social power that comes with it.

Look at me. I’m rich. Look at me. I’m unique. Look at me. I’m powerful. It’s all about me, me, me. The logo is only a sign for a high price tag; if it were only for the bag, they could buy a counterfeit for a couple of hundred dollars if not less.

On the other hand, if Zara started selling clothes at a much higher price point, such as a $5000 jacket, then it would not be believable.

The overall brand feeling is not positioned and designed to sell at such price point; inspect the manufacturing quality, quality of the fabric, stitching, store design, marketing promotions, and level of customer service, you can not compare that to Louis Vuitton, Versace or Dolce, and Gabbana.

When you get all the 9 elements of positioning right and in place, people would subconsciously understand the brand image and justify the price.

You don’t have to do a lot of the selling and explaining; it’s all done for you by their subconscious mind effortlessly.

Remember, when things are perceived right, customers will just react, it’s a simple cause-and-effect mechanism.

Keep in mind that most small businesses sell from a place of desperation and lack of strong positioning and brand image, rather than putting the extra effort to maintain a strong brand image.

However, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong if you want to sell to the mass, just make sure that you are positioned to the masses.

Zara has different sister brands such as Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, and others that are positioned to serve different groups of people with various preferences and budgets. If you wish to serve separate groups, then create multiple brands instead of mixing it all.

Keep in mind that all elements of successful positioning should work together to create a well-positioned brand that matches a specific audience mindset and personality, “consistency is a key.”


Remember that the point of positioning is to attract the right customer, which logically means that it needs to be planned and designed around a specific group of customers.

To make your business easy on yourself start by positioning your brand in term of price, is it an expensive premium brand? Is it an affordable brand? Or is it a low-price brand?

This will help you eliminate the price confusion in the customer’s mind, filter out all other segments, and only attract the customer who can afford your brand.

Second, position your brand in the term of style, different people love different styles and genres, it’s like listening to music, some people get inspired by the romance of jazz music and others love to listen and dance to pop music.

A Brand style is no different, the style of your brand will attract the customer who loves that style, be it Bohemian style, elegant and minimal style, funny and colorful style, street art style, or whatever style from different art and music genres and cultures around the world.

Third, position your brand in the term of function, different people have different challenges, obstacles, frustrations, and needs, they look for brands well-positioned as experts in that field.

A person who is looking for a watch as the style would probably think of a brand similar to Swatch, while someone else looking for a swimming watch might look for a different brand such as Swimmo that delivers swimming watches for athletes.

This does not mean that you can’t combine both, but mostly you focus your product utility and core function to deliver the most excellent solution and satisfy the customer who is looking for a quality product in that category.

Once you got the above three factors in place, use the 4P’s, product, price, placement, and promotion to tie your brand together and make it consistent.

Always avoid a lack of clarity, setting the wrong expectation, or sharing the same tone and message with two separate groups of people; you would not talk to your boss in the same attitude and language as you speak to your child.

Here you go, now that you have a clear view on how to position your brand correctly so you can attract the right customer, look back at your brand and compare it to successful brands in your industry, what are the things they do that made successful, learn from them then adjust your brand accordingly.

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