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Brand Positioning: Insights, Benefits, and RTBs

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Brand Positioning: Insights, Benefits, and RTBs

The Reasons To Believe In Your Brand’s Future

Marketing is essential to business, and companies spend millions on advertising every year. But how much of that money gets people to buy products? In this video, learn why marketers use different strategies to convince us to buy their products.

  1. They have an identity: Brands have an identity because they represent something. A brand has a personality, a voice, and a set of values. It also has a history, a story, and a mission. These things make up its identity.
  2. They have a vision: Brands need to clearly understand where they’re going clear picture should be communicated clearly through the brand’s website, social media profiles, and other online channels.
  3. They have a purpose: A brand’s mission statement describes its purpose. It also has a vision telling how it will achieve its mission. And finally, it has a strategy, which details how it will accomplish its goals.
  4. They have a story: Brands need stories to tell. Stories help people understand why something matters to them. They make things personal. They give us reasons to believe in the future of our brand.

Insights, Benefits, and RTBs

This is the second post in a series of three in which we dig deeper into the brand key and its component. After exploring the meaning and the importance of Roots, Competitive Analysis, and Targets, we will discuss the “killer part” of the positioning statement: Insights, Benefits, and RTBs (Reason to Believe). I refer to this set of components as the killer part because, in my experience, many of the root causes gravitate around this area when the positioning goes wrong. For example, when the insights are not unique enough, the positioning is not differentiating. Or when the senses are vital, but the benefits are not relevant, the positioning tastes just like a watered-down cocktail. Finally, when feelings are essential, benefits are applicable, and Reasons to Believe are weak, consumers and customers tend to assume that the promise is not credible, the infamous “lipstick on a pig.” When this relevant positioning set is robust, the brand promise can withstand competitive pressure in the marketplace.


The funnel Insights, benefits, and RTBs begin with insights for an apparent reason. They present a unique understanding of the customers and target customers, formulated in an intense action-driven form. First and foremost, insights must be unique: when competitors share the same wisdom because they study the same reports, look at the same market data, and have access to the same standard consumer research, it is more likely than not that the insights are not unique. In a nutshell, a good understanding derives from a non-standard approach. How can you appeal to customers if you only know what your competitors know? An Effective Brand Strategy begins with an in-depth understanding of consumer needs.

And while I am personally in favor of data-driven insights, I believe that the most potent insights are built through qualitative exercises. For example, co-create ideas with the consumers and ask them to help you formulate the insights. The latter also helps with relevance: an understanding can be unique but utterly irrelevant from an average target customer’s point of view. Consumers either do not care or do not feel the pain enough to be moved to action.

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While this seems to be a very intuitive exercise, it is one of the biggest challenges of brand positioning. First and foremost, brand benefits are not product benefits, and they are, too often, confused. And this is particularly true when a brand spans multiple categories and forms that entail different functional benefits.

To understand better, we have already made the point that we consider a three-levels-ladder of benefits: functional, emotional, and societal. The first set delivers what the brand functionally does for the consumers: a streaming service conveniently distributes content, is easy to access, and is free of advertising interruptions. But it also allows for a family moment, a transition from parents to a couple, an “us without the kids” moment for many parents with young children. The latter is an example of an emotional benefit. But what is a societal benefit? With the increasing importance of purpose branding, brands must have gifts that give back and connect with society beyond a mere commercial scope.

Always remember that the benefits trigger an Emotional Response and make it possible to establish Customer Loyalty.


RTBs – Reasons to Believe

While the benefits represent the promise of a brand, the RTB is the component ensuring that consumers and partners find that promise credible. In this day, at this time, it is safe to assume that consumers have a negative default mode on brand promises: many loves at first sight, and many more commitments, flings, and relationships between brands and their consumers have been broken by the brand’s over-promise and the product under-performance. So the RTB is the light in the darkness, which convinces consumers to have confidence in the brand.

Of course, the RTB is a dependent function of a benefit: so each gift should have an RTB. Similar to help, we can segment the RTBs into three clusters: functional, emotional, and societal. What makes a good RTB? It depends on several factors: sometimes, the brand’s roots are sufficient, as a denomination of origin for a bottle of wine or the awards gained by a liquor brand. But sometimes, it goes beyond that: in the case of Ferrari, the F1 track record of the Scuderia is a strong RTB for Ferrari’s functional promises. Building a good RTB takes a long time, while suffices a faux-pass to undermine it (e.g., too many price promotions, sounds familiar?). This is why the RTB is the litmus test for the brand promise: we should ensure a strong RTB for every benefit. Otherwise, we should disregard the use, even if we think we can deliver on it.

This concludes our second post on the Brand Key positioning framework, focusing on Insights, Benefits, and RTBs, the critical elements of the target/ brand love/ hate relationship.


3 Replies to “Brand Positioning: Insights, Benefits, and RTBs”

I love the way you write. Thanks for breaking down this information. Most just stop at the surface and neglect to go deeper and reason with their listeners

  • El'Shazzar,

    This has been a great read. You went in-depth, I read some article where they only dwelled of the flesh and not go to the heart of the matter.
    Thank you

  • Yvonne Snyder,

    can anyone tell me who is responsible for the plethora of adverts showing peoples’ different anatomy covered in what looks like dried beans and the beans are being clipped off, with the reference to atopic dermatitis? thank youj.

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