May 30, 2023

How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Product Positioning and Branding

Product positioning and branding are critical aspects of any business. Get them right, and you set yourself up for success. Make common mistakes, and you risk losing customers and failing to reach your full marketing potential. This article outlines the most common mistakes to avoid and provides practical tips for standing out from the competition.

Define Your Positioning Pre-Launch

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is launching their product without clearly defining how it is different and how they want it to be perceived. This leads to an unclear positioning in the market.

Before you launch, take the time to map out:

  • What problem your product solves in a unique way
  • Who your target customer persona is, and their main pain points
  • The primary benefit your product offers
  • The main attributes and features that deliver that benefit
  • Your brand values and key differentiators

Armed with this, you can carve out a clear positioning statement and strategy that informs every marketing decision, from your website copy to PR campaigns.

Product examples help bring your positioning to life. Create demo videos, sample products, or marketing prototypes your team can refer to ensure everything stays aligned with your positioning goals.

Key takeaway: Resist the pressure to rush a launch before you have a coherent positioning. Get this right upfront, and your branding efforts will follow much more quickly.

Conduct Thorough Market Research

Without a deep understanding of your market and competitors, you risk misreading customer desires and making missteps in your product positioning. Before launching, conduct thorough research to:

Identify competitors

Make a full list of all similar products already out there. View their websites, marketing materials, and reviews to assess their positioning strategy and perceived strengths.

Scan the landscape

Check industry publications, blogs, and social media to gauge what customers are saying they want and need that your competitors may be missing.

Talk to customers

Conduct in-depth interviews or surveys with your target persona to gain unique insights into their pain points, desires, and preferences that can inform a differentiated positioning for your product.

Analyze the competition’s weaknesses.

Look for potential gaps in your competitors’ offerings or strategies that represent opportunities for your product.

Understand industry trends

Follow relevant hashtags, read reports, and attend trade shows to stay apprised of changing trends that impact customer needs and desires.

With this knowledge, you can avoid mistakenly trying to compete head-on with entrenched competitors. Instead, identifying a unique space and positioning your product can carve out by clearly meeting customer needs the competition has missed.

Choose Your Brand Voice With Care

Your brand voice–the tone, style, and personality you project through marketing communications–is key to how customers perceive your product and positioning. Yet many brands choose a voice hastily without fully considering its strategic implications.

Select a brand voice that strengthens rather than undermines your positioning:

Match your voice to your values.

What do you stand for as a company? A more casual voice may fit if you’re fun and trendy, while formal may match if you’re traditional and professional.

Consider your target customer.

How do they prefer to communicate and be communicated with? A younger, tech-savvy audience prefers a more casual, conversational voice versus a buttoned-up style suited for traditional buyers.

Reflect on your brand personality.

Are you innovative or classic? Trendy or reliable? Warm or efficient? Let these attributes inform the right tone of voice for your positioning.

Test different approaches

Experiment internally with multiple voice options to see which feels most natural yet effectively expresses your differentiators. Get feedback from customers.

Stay consistent

Once you settle on a voice, ensure it’s adhered to across all marketing materials. Inconsistency undermines credibility and positioning.

An authentic, strategically selected brand voice brings your positioning to life in an engaging way customers can relate to. Take the time upfront to choose the right tone that strengthens rather than distracts from your product’s differentiated role in the market.

Narrow Your Focus to a Specific Target Market

Trying to appeal to everyone results in a watered-down positioning that speaks clearly to no one. To avoid this trap:

Define a narrow target audience.

Identify the specific customer personas most likely to need and value what your product offers. Focus primarily on their pain points and desires.

Tailor your positioning to them.

Highlight the specific benefits that most resonate for your target personas and speak to their unique motivations.

Use their language

Referencing needs, frustrations, and goals in the terms your target personas naturally think and speak in makes an authentic connection.

Filter all marketing

Ensure every touchpoint - from your website to sales collateral - targets your chosen audience’s pain points and preferences.

Ignore irrelevant customers

Resist the urge to broaden your appeal in response to interest from customers outside your focus. Stick with who you serve best.

Consider niche marketing

If you lack unique differentiators for the general market, carve out a niche focus on a specific subset of customers with underserved needs.

Executing niche positioning requires narrowly targeting a specific customer segment and highlighting solutions tailored to their desires. This focused approach allows you to build authenticity, authority, and credibility that inspires loyalty among your target personas.

The tradeoff: Sacrificing mass appeal for laser targeting of a niche. But done right, this yields a strategic edge over mass-market competitors who try to be all things to all people.

Avoid Product Copycat Syndrome 

One common mistake in product positioning is copying what competitors are already doing instead of searching for true differentiation. Companies fall into this “copycat syndrome” trap when:

They rush to market without a coherent vision.

Companies launch products focused mainly on functionality and features rather than a differentiated role or need they fulfill.

They imitate competitors’ marketing.

Copying competitors’ value propositions, ad campaigns, and even names indicates a lack of unique identity.

They start trends.

Chasing the latest industry trend without considering whether it’s a good fit leads companies to enter crowded spaces awkwardly.

While emulating successful competitors may seem like a shortcut, true differentiation comes from carving out a unique role based on the following:

  1. Fulfilling real customer needs that competitors have overlooked. Ask what realities of your target audience’s lives or workflows your product could make easier.
  2. Bringing a new perspective or framework for how the market should think about the product category. What mental model could you challenge to shift customers’ habits or thinking?
  3. Injecting fresh aesthetic or tonal qualities that speak to customers in a new way within the category. What new emotion, vibe, or feeling could you infuse to change how people relate to the product?

Avoid the copycat trap by iterating, testing, and refining your vision until you uncover a unique role or space your product alone can own - one that inspires customers rather than leaves them indifferent. Competitive advantage lies in true differentiation, not imitation.

Test, Measure, and Refine Your Positioning

You may not get your product positioning out of the gate even with the best intentions and planning. This is why continual testing, measuring, and refining are critical to any positioning strategy.

To ensure your positioning remains on target over time:

Gather customer feedback

Conduct surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews regularly to see if your positioning matches customers’ values.

Analyze metrics

Look at key performance indicators like conversion rate, customer retention, and churn rate for clues that your positioning may be missing.

Test different marketing angles.

Run multiple ad campaigns or taglines targeting different benefits to gauge which resonates most strongly.

Monitor industry shifts

Keep apprised of changing customer preferences, competitor strategies, and new technologies that may require adapting your positioning.

Adapt and evolve

Don’t be wedded to your initial positioning if the market or your offering changes in ways that call for a refreshed strategy.

Define new differentiators

If competitors catch up or customers remain indifferent, search for new ways to uniquely position your product.

Communicate changes clearly

Explicitly share revisions to your positioning and value proposition with customers to avoid confusing mixed messages.

By instituting ongoing measurement and refinement processes, you can catch missteps in your positioning strategy before they cause irreparable damage. Your position may need to evolve as your product, competition, and customer needs change.

The key is instituting the listening mechanisms, feedback loops, and agile processes that allow you to pivot your positioning nimbly when market signals dictate a new approach.

The Role of Product Demos in Brand Positioning

Product demos and trial experiences have become essential for modern businesses to effectively position and market their products. Companies can engage prospective customers, demonstrate key capabilities, and shape brand perception by providing an interactive demo or trial of their software, products, or services. Here are some ways product demos help with positioning and branding:

Personalized value proposition

Product demos turn abstract product features and benefit into an immersive, personalized customer experience. This helps convey a clear and compelling value proposition that resonates more strongly.


By showcasing unique product capabilities through a demo, companies can highlight what differentiates their offerings from competitors. This helps establish a strong brand identity and position in the market.

Customer trust

Customers who try out a product demo gain more confidence in its quality and ability to meet their needs. This helps build the necessary trust and credibility for customers to purchase.

Viral marketing

Positive experiences with a product demo can spread organically through word of mouth as customers share with their networks. This provides free yet powerful customer acquisition and brand virality.

Social proof

Public-facing product demos on a company’s website provides social proof that helps convince visitors the product works as advertised. This reassures skeptical prospects and improves conversion.

In the experience economy, product demos and trials have become table stakes for businesses to convert prospects into customers. While traditional marketing efforts introduce a brand’s message, only an interactive product demo tool can bring that message to life powerfully and memorably.


Proper positioning and effective branding take time, research, testing, and refinement. But getting it right is indispensable for standing out in competitive markets and attracting the customers who value you most.

By avoiding common mistakes like rushing launches, copying competitors, and casting too broad an appeal, you can find and focus on a specific, differentiated role your product alone can fulfill. And by implementing processes to continually gather feedback, analyze metrics and adapt your positioning as needed, you set your business up for enduring success.

Strong product positioning helps customers quickly understand why your offer exists, what basic needs it meets, and how it differs from similar options. With a coherent positioning as your north star, every subsequent marketing decision - from naming to styling to pricing - falls into proper alignment to reinforce your brand identity and connect meaningfully with the right customers for your business.

Product positioning and branding may start before launch but never truly end. They require an ongoing commitment to listening, learning, and improvement. But done right, they become powerful tools to magnify the impact of your innovation and create passionate customers for life.

Cover Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng.

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