Brand positioning strategies

When determining how a brand should position itself, do you think this should be done by:

Differentiation
Focusing on one aspect or idea that differentiates the business from its competitors - for example Planet Fitness

OR

What the business is good at
Based upon what the business is good at, that pays well and what the owners love doing, albeit the competitors are doing the same too - for example Nike v Under Armour v Adidas

I guess to the crux of my question, when deciding how a business should position itself, should it strive to atain a completely unique position to occupy in the mind of it’s audience or be content to double down on what its good at and accept that there will be competiton in the same space?

Are you asking in regards to your own business as a graphic designer or on behalf of a client’s business?

Brand positioning should not normally be the job of a graphic designer.
Having said that:

In my opinion, brand positioning should be derived from what is.
History. Founding motif. Corporate culture. Product characteristics Market segments. Target groups. Employees also play a role. They represent a persistence factor in case of changes.
From there, one can aim for an expansion, a separation or a shift of the brand position with target definition and route description.

Your brand always needs as good a distance as possible from the competition in its position. But in the coordinates you can choose the axes.

What the business is good at
and
Differentiation
is too simple in my opinion.

If you are good at something but so is everyone else
or you are different but you are not great at being different,
nobody is helped.

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@Pluto, I think you’ve presented us with a false binary choice. Both things you mentioned are important in conjunction with a dozen or more other factors. The precise mix, I think, depends on the situation.

I read through the article, by the way, and disagree with much of it — not so much in what it says but rather in the certitude and simplicity in which the article portrays the subject

Maybe in most instances. There are specialists who concern themselves with these things. On the other hand, creative directors and art directors typically get involved with positioning issues and strategies. Freelance designers, depending on the situation, sometimes deal with them out of necessity since they’re often called upon to wear multiple hats.

Even though it’s something only briefly touched upon in design school, and even though most designers are probably not qualified to bill themselves as brand positioning experts or consultants, it’s still a related field. And as a related field, it’s important for designers to concern themselves with it and appreciated its importance and how aspects of it relate to graphic design.

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@Steve_O am refering to a clients business.

Maybe not in it’s entirety as there are many business factors that influence a brands in positioning that are outside the wheelhouse of a designer and live purely in the space of the business owners aspirations and their execution, however I think it’s important that designers are part of the discussion and have a seat at the table.

@Just-B You’re probably right, I am probably oversimplifying it a bit.

Have been doing a bit more learning about this and came across this interview with Seth Godin on positioning:

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That’s what I do and say for decades

Maybe my teacher learned it from Mr. Godin.

As far as authenticity goes: Yes, keep your private sorrows to yourself in business. But I am a great believer in that idea that I really should believe what I say to a customer.

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I think there’s merit in this. A mate of mine has had good success generating new business on social media and her advice was that you need to be yourself.