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The ins and outs of positioning vs messaging (+ framework)

Positioning and messaging are like two peas in a pod – if those peas acted in wildly different ways during their teenage years, before reconciling in their late twenties. One informs the other, even if messaging believes itself to be the superstar of the family. To put it simply, positioning vs messaging is a dynamic interplay between how your brand is perceived by the rest of the world and how it speaks to your audience.

Messaging can only ever be as effective as your positioning – if you don’t know who to target, or what makes your brand better than the competition, you might as well be shouting in the wind.

At Proof Content, we know a thing or two about making a brand’s Positioning and Key Messaging shine. We’re here to let you in on all there is to know about these often conflated terms.

What is positioning in marketing?

To discuss why positioning vs messaging is the wrong way to look at it, we must first examine what they can both offer a business. You won’t be surprised to learn that positioning in marketing is (as crazy as it sounds) all about learning where your brand sits in the market. Without it, you’ll end up throwing all your marketing materials out into the world all at once, and likely won’t see any rewards for doing so. With it, you can learn how to speak clearly, to the right people – the ones most likely to engage with your brand. But you can only do this when you know who to communicate with.

Brands can learn this by beginning the process of defining their target audience. And by identifying which other brands might be offering something similar to them. This process forms part of a brand positioning strategy, which, at its foundation, requires an understanding of the what, why, and how of your brand, along with all the attributes that make it up. Once you know this, you can examine where you are positioned currently and decide where you want to be in the future.

Now, at face value, positioning sounds pretty technical. But, it is actually equal parts creative. It must be natural and use language that will best reach your customers’ minds. There’s a space in the market for most brands – you just need to find it, and own it.

What is product positioning?

Product positioning is similar to market positioning but focuses mainly on the products a brand offers, rather than the brand itself. It is about defining why your product is a better fit and finding the audience most likely to agree. With this baseline, you can form a marketing positioning strategy that’s more likely to succeed.

Of course, there may be multiple audiences for a single product. Primary audiences and secondary audiences will likely be wanting different things from it. Positioning can help identify which aspect of your product will appeal to the specific audience.

What is messaging in marketing?

Brand and product messaging follows on from your positioning strategy. It encompasses the words you use to speak to the world. Everything you learnt from your positioning strategy can be used to strategically target the people most likely to engage with your brand.

These special words, placed in specific phrases and sprinkled throughout your content, can be used to make people listen to you. A Key Messaging strategy not only helps you to find the words but also identifies where the words should be placed to be most effective.

This is particularly important because messaging impacts nearly every piece of content your brand produces, including:

  • Website copy
  • Social posts
  • Emails
  • Reports
  • Video scripts

And that’s just the start – any content you can use to get your brand to stick in the minds of your audience will make use of your Key Messaging. The tone and personality you exude will have a major effect, so you need to be confident that potential customers will react positively.

It’s also important to stress that your messaging should always address your target audience’s pain points, along with their wants and needs.

Positioning vs messaging: Which is more important?

At first glance, many would think that messaging is more important than positioning. It is, after all, the content you use to get customers to buy your product or choose your brand. However, since you can’t have successful value-based messaging without first figuring out your positioning, the two must at least be close to being on equal footing.

Effective positioning is crucial for showcasing your brand to the right audience, giving you the chance to see valuable returns. Clear messaging further enhances this by ensuring your target audience actively engages with your offerings, thereby increasing the likelihood of actually converting them into customers.

To say one is more important than the other is to fundamentally misunderstand the two concepts. It cannot be a matter of positioning vs messaging – they must work hand in hand, as part of a robust brand strategy, to be worthwhile. Without a well-defined positioning strategy, messaging lacks direction and could fail to reach your intended audience.

Even the most compelling messaging will struggle to make an impact if the brand’s positioning is weak or fails to differentiate itself. At its core, positioning provides the context and strategic framework that guides the development and delivery of impactful messaging.

That’s why it’s important to strike a delicate balance between the two. Ensure that your positioning informs and guides the messaging, while your messaging effectively conveys the essence of your brand’s positioning.

What is a messaging and positioning framework?

A positioning framework (which includes a product positioning framework) helps ensure every single team member can explain, to anyone that asks, exactly what makes your product or brand different from the competition. A messaging framework outlines how you should speak to your customers, and which words resonate the most.

You could split the two into their own frameworks, or create a messaging and positioning framework that encompasses both. Regardless of how you lay it out, there are some key components you need to include for each.

Positioning framework:

  • Target Market: Identify and analyse the specific market segments in which your brand operates or intends to target.
  • Competitor Analysis: Thoroughly assess your competitors to gain an understanding of their positioning, strengths, weaknesses, and market share.
  • Unique Value Proposition: Define and articulate the unique value that your brand brings to the market, highlighting the key benefits and advantages that set you apart from competitors.
  • Target Audience Needs: Comprehend your audience’s needs, pain points, and desires to tailor your positioning strategy to people most likely to engage with it.
  • Market Differentiation: Identify the unique attributes and characteristics of your brand to stand out from your competitors and attract customers.
  • Brand Promise: Establish a clear and compelling promise that communicates the value and benefits customers can expect from your brand.
  • Brand Positioning Statement: Craft a concise statement that encapsulates your brand’s positioning, target audience, unique value proposition, and market differentiation.

Messaging framework:

  • Target Audience: Identify and define the specific audiences that your messaging will target.
  • Key Messages: Articulate the core messages that best convey your brand’s value proposition, unique selling points, and benefits.
  • Tone and Voice: Establish guidelines for the tone and voice of your brand ensuring it has consistent messaging and aligns with your brand’s personality.
  • Brand Story: Develop a compelling narrative that communicates your brand’s history, mission, and values to resonate with your target audience.
  • Messaging Channels: Determine the appropriate channels and mediums to deliver your messaging, considering the preferences and behaviour of your target audience.
  • Calls-to-Action: Clearly define the actions you want your target audience to take, be it purchasing, subscribing, or other specific outcomes.

Messaging and positioning examples

So, now we’ve got all that stuff out of the way, you probably want some examples. The following demonstrates how specific brands have effectively differentiated themselves, communicated their value proposition and, in doing so, resonated more with their target audience.


Positioning: HubSpot positions itself as an all-in-one inbound marketing and sales platform, catering to businesses of all sizes. They emphasise their expertise in attracting, engaging, and delighting customers through inbound marketing methods.
Messaging: HubSpot’s messaging revolves around empowering businesses to grow, with software that seamlessly works together. This is seen in phrases like “CRM software with something for everyone”, “Grow better with Hubspot”, and “Software that’s powerful, not overpowering”. This messaging highlights that they provide one digital location for all their users’ needs.


Positioning: Apple’s positioning is mainly focused on showing itself as a leader in innovation and design. They also deeply value user experience. Apple’s products showcase this with simple yet elegant designs and their use of cutting-edge technology
Messaging: Apple’s messaging focuses on highlighting the seamless integration of hardware and software, emphasising the user-friendly experience, and appealing to the emotions of its audience with slogans like “Think Different” and “Love the power. Love the price.”


Positioning: Adobe positions itself as a leader in digital experience transformation, offering a suite of creative tools, marketing solutions, and document management products. By providing a seamless ecosystem of software, Adobe enables businesses to create captivating content, deliver personalised marketing campaigns, and streamline document workflows for enhanced productivity.
Messaging: Adobe’s messaging reflects this positioning by using authoritative language that emphasises its software as the only solution. Phrases indicating this include: “Creative journeys start here”, “Work smarter with Adobe Acrobat Sign”, and “Give customers what they need, when and how they want it.”

Positioning and messaging go hand in hand

I hope we’ve made it clear that it’s not a matter of positioning vs messaging, but a matter of positioning and messaging working together. They both represent your best offence when it comes to growing your brand and raking in clients.

Here at Proof Content, we know the exact steps you need to take to maximise your messaging and positioning strategy.

Get in touch. We’ll help you find your place and craft beautiful messages that’ll make your brand shine.

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