How To Build Your Brand Positioning Around Consumer Benefit Clusters

Credit By Graham Robertson


The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps turn your brand’s features into consumer benefits. You should stop thinking about what your brand does and start thinking about what your consumer gets. This will help your positioning statement come alive.


Consumer Benefit LadderThe 4 steps to build a Consumer Benefits Ladder:

  1. Leverage all available research to brief the team. Help define the consumer target profile with consumer insights, need states and the consumer enemy.

  2. Brainstorm all the possible brand features that your brand offers, plus any brand assets. Make sure that these features give your brand a competitive advantage.

  3. Move up to the functional benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and for each feature on your list, ask “so if I am the consumer, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up to 5 times, to the answers into a richer zone.

  4. Then move up to the emotional benefits of looking at each functional benefit and then ask “so if I am the consumer, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a deeper emotional space that you can play in and own.

Functional Benefits


As you look through the list, gravitate to the functional benefits you think will fit the needs of your consumers, and where your brand can do it better than competitors. Start with my words and layer in your own creative language with the specific category or consumer language.



Emotional Benefits


I have used Hotspex research methodology to create a ‘cheat sheet’ with 8 major emotional consumer benefits, that includes optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge. To own a space in the consumer’s heart, brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always thinking relative to what zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will confuse your consumer. Use the supporting words to add flavor to your brand positioning.



Build Around Benefit Clusters


 As you start to make decisions on which benefits your brand will stand behind, I recommend you start by looking at the two cheat sheets and find potential clusters of the functional and emotional benefits, that you believe match up with what consumers want and what your brand does better than other competitors.




Use the brainstorm to populate the Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet to focus your thinking. Like any brainstorm, you will end up more choices than you can use. 




Turning it into a Brand Positioning Statement


After doing all the homework, you can now confidently put together a winning Brand Positioning Statement that addresses:

  • Who is your consumer target? Keep the target focused. Do not be vague in your definition. Never go after two segments at the same time. Bring the target to life with need states, consumer insights, and a consumer enemy.  

  • Where will you play? Define the space you play in, against those brands you compete against. Which competitor do you fight against for the same dollars?

  • Where will you win? Narrow your benefit down to one thing. Never try to stand for too many things at once—whether too many functional benefits or too many emotional benefits. You cannot be all things to all people. Make sure you talk benefits, not features. Find the ideal space that is unique and motivating to the consumers, while being own-able for your brand.

  • Why should they believe us? The role of support points is to close off any potential doubts the consumer might have when they see the main benefit. Watch out that these are not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message. They should support and fit with the main benefit.


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