The Value of Good Positioning: A Look at the Brand Positioning Strategies of Some of 2020’s Most Successful Brands

2020 was an eventful year all around and it’s said that “hindsight is the best insight to foresight.” In that spirit, let’s take a look at some of the brands that rose to the top in this tumultuous year.

“Biggest value % gain from 2019-2020” according to Forbes  (Marty Swant 2020).

  • Netflix: 72%
  • Chanel: 42%
  • Amazon: 40%
  • Microsoft 30%
  • PayPal: 24%

So, what are they doing right? What can the brand positioning strategies of these proliferate brands teach us about their success?


Netflix is a master at arms when it comes to brand positioning. This brand has succeeded in establishing itself as a staple in the minds of consumers, progressing from rented movies—to online streaming—and, more recently, to original series. Driven by the ‘customer experience’ Netflix adapts to our behaviors before we even recognize them—with tactics such as A/B, or Split, testing. When you enjoy a new cover image on the home screen each time you log in to Netflix, you’re witnessing this tactic. Different versions of the Netflix experience are split evenly to audiences to determine which drives consumer behaviors most effectively; that which comes out on top is displayed to all users, positioning this brand as one that adapts to you so that it always presents itself favorably based on the consumers’ needs.


Chanel resides in the hall of fame as one of the most iconic brands in fashion history. To this day, Chanel holds status for women as an icon of freedom, dating back to its namesake and founder, Coco Chanel (1883-1971). This brand expertly leverages a rich, elegant French heritage as well as a root feminist reputation for breaking through outmoded industry standards to constantly redefine female fashion. Whether it’s fragrance, makeup, jewelry, or haute couture; this halcyon philosophy of the liberated, modern, sophisticated woman retains its power in the minds today’s consumers.


From its humble beginnings as an online bookseller in 1995, Amazon has grown to become one of the largest companies in the world, now selling almost anything you can think of. Their continued dominance in the online marketplace is reliant on their position as an innovative brand that continues to find new ways to deliver products to buyers. In a year where a great deal of shopping was done online, their reliance on automation (including test runs for drone deliveries) kept them successful and front-of-mind for consumers. While their visual branding hasn’t changed in the past few years (everyone knows and recognizes that curved yellow arrow), consumers always think of innovation and reliability when they think of Amazon orders, and that brand positioning only grows stronger.


For Microsoft, connectivity is the name of the game. In the past few years, the Microsoft brand has transformed to embody connectivity and compatibility across all their devices. This year, they expanded their reach with the release of new Surface and Xbox products, both featuring their signature operating system (OS). This connectivity-focused brand positioning has also paid off with their Office suite, especially Microsoft Teams. By establishing themselves as a fully integrated and connected platform, Microsoft became the go-to brand that consumers trust to keep their work programs and data accessible and easy to use.


PayPal has revolutionized how we, as consumers, buy and sell in the digital age. Since it was created in 1998, their brand has undergone a number of changes but has always remained consistent in its goal: innovation in payment. With their most recent brand identity overhaul, PayPal shed its stiff and corporate look for a bolder, more digital-forward aesthetic. Their brand has also evolved to prioritize where most of their business is done—mobile devices.  As the leader in the digital payment space, PayPal manages to set itself apart from competitors like Venmo and Cashapp by tying innovation, integration, and connectivity directly into their brand—a strategy that paid off in a year when more shopping was done digitally than ever before.