Imagine that your firm comes up in a conversation between two business people. One says, "Smith and Jones, CPAs, sure, I've heard of them. They're the [blank] firm." Now, what do you want the [blank] to be? That's brand positioning.
Brand positioning is what people think about your brand. It's different from brand awareness, which measures whether they think about your brand.
For example, Nordstrom, Walmart, and Kmart all have strong brand awareness. Nordstrom and Walmart also have very clear – and very different – brand positions. Kmart, on the other hand, doesn't have a clear position in the retail market space, and it's causing them a great deal of trouble.
Having a well-thought-out positioning strategy is just as important for accounting firms. Do you want to be thought of as the "tech savvy" firm? The "ultimate tax authority?" The "friendly firm," the "small business advisor," the "outsourced accounting department," or the "expert" in one specific industry?
Brand positioning is a simple concept but it's a powerful one. Even if you spend lots of money and energy trying to build brand recognition, it won't get you very far without a well-thought-out positioning strategy. Kmart is an excellent example of this.
Most firms don't put a lot of thought into positioning, so it's relatively easy to lay claim to almost any position you choose and give your firm a powerful advantage. Once you've thought out your positioning strategy, all your marketing efforts can work in concert to establish and support it. If you stay consistent with it over the years, you can build a very powerful image.