Designing a Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy

Step 5: Positioning and Strategy Outline

Positioning is the identity you want your SBCC program to have. Positioning presents the determined strategic approaches in a way that is both persuasive and appealing to the intended audience. It provides direction for developing a memorable identity, shapes the development of messages, and helps determine the strategic approaches to be used. Positioning ensures that messages have a consistent voice and that all planned activities reinforce each other for a cumulative effect.

Through eight tasks, you will identify a central theme for your communication strategy, outline information that will inform message development, and begin thinking on how best to creatively implement SBCC activities. The positioning statement and outline will incorporate the information from previous Steps and synthesize this information to form a complete picture of your strategy.

What You Need to Know to Get Started

Strategy Outline:

  • Outlines what the main concept is and what the messages need to say so your team can determine how the messages and materials will be designed and how the activities will be implemented.
  • Can be shared with the people and organizations involved in the development of messages, materials, and activities.

    • Guides the creative process.
    • Can be used as a springboard for developing creative concepts, messages, and materials, and exploring creative approaches.

  • Can be shared with the people and organizations active in the implementation of activities.
  • Should be clear and concise in order to avoid future confusion and misunderstandings.

In the context of strategic design, positioning means presenting a challenge, service, or product in such a way that it stands out from other comparable or competing challenges, services, or products, and it is appealing and persuasive. Positioning  creates a distinctive and attractive image, a perpetual foothold in the minds of the intended audience.

Process: Facilitated discussion

Tools: Situation Analysis document, outputs from previous Steps and tasks

Output: Summary table

This task summarizes what is now known about the challenge, the communication needs of the intended audience, and what will motivate change.

  • Compile the information already gathered and the strategic decisions that have been made in previous Steps in the table below.

Challenge Statement:
Audience Profiles: Primary Audience Profile:
Influencing Audience Profile:

Barriers to Change:

 Download a Word version of the table here.

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Positioning statement

In developing a positioning statement, keep in mind what you know about the intended audience from your analysis and audience segmentation and from the work you have done in the previous Steps.

  1. Write one or two sentences that describe the position of your program:
    • What impression or image do you want your program to create in the minds of your audience?
    • What cues can you use for your audience to recognize the program?
    • What can you do to help the audience react positively to and identify with the program?
    • How can you help motivate the desired change?
    • How can you build a positive relationship with your audience?
  2. Once you have developed your positioning statement, ask yourself these questions:
    • Does it resonate with your audience?
    • Will it resonate over time? Does it provide for a long-term identity?
    • Does it represent something better or different than the current situation?
    • Is the position feasible? Can the program deliver the promise or benefit?
    • Does it foster a positive and trusting relationship with your audience?
    • Does it represent a clear vision?
    • Does it encourage innovation?
  3. Fine-tune your positioning statement with the answers from the questions above.
  4. Include your positioning statement in the space below:
Positioning Statement:

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Key promise

The key promise is the main benefit(s) associated with the proposed change. Changes in behavior, policies, and social norms are made only because there is a perceived benefit to those changes. The benefit must outweigh the personal cost of the change.

Benefits generally fall into one of these categories :

  • Social approval – society approves of the behavior
  • Prestige – society respects the behavior
  • Fear reduction – the behavior reduces fear
  • Health and life enhancement – the behavior has perceived health benefits and contributes to an avoidance of pain, disease or death
  • Economic – the behavior could lead to saving money or making money
  • Conformity – everyone is doing the behavior


  1. List possible benefits that would persuade your audience to change behavior and/or social norms. It may help to frame your benefit as: If you ……(fill in what behavior, social norm/policy you hope to change), then you will benefit by ……(fill in the benefit).
  2. Identify the main benefit associated with the proposed change. This becomes your key promise.
    • Is the key promise persuasive to the audience?
    • Is the key promise based on emotion or facts?
    • Will the key promise resonate with the audience?
  3. Summarize why the promise is beneficial to the audience and why the promise outweighs any obstacles to change.
    • How will the key promise benefit the audience?
    • How does the key promise outweigh barriers to change?
    • How does the key promise outweigh incentives not to change?
Key Promise:

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Support statement

The support statement describes why the audience should believe the promise. This could be based on data, peer testimonials, a statement from a reliable source, or a demonstration. The support statement could also rely on an emotional response.

  1. Answer questions on why your audience should believe the promise:
    • Why is the promise beneficial to the audience?
    • Why should the audience believe the promise?
    • What support would best resonate with your particular audience(s)?
    • What support would best address the concerns your intended audience has about the proposed change?
    • What support would best address the barriers to change?
    • What support would best address the incentives not to change?
  2. Draft your support statement to answer the questions above and address the questions below:
    • What is the behavior, policy, or social norm you want to change?
    • What are the benefits to this change?
    • What are the supporting points for this benefit/promise?

If you change x behavior/social norm/policy, you will benefit by x benefit because supporting points.

Support Statement:

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Overall impression statement

The overall impression statement describes the feelings the audience should get from the communication and what they will retain after seeing or hearing the messages. This includes the “take away” message, including its call to action.

  1. Draft an overall impression statement
    • What do you want your audience to feel and believe as well as do after hearing or seeing your message?
    • What is the tone of your program? Authoritative, friendly, light, emotional, humorous, using fear?
    • What type of appeal will you use? Directive, non-directive, entertaining, persuading, educating, empowering?
Overall Impression Statement:

Creating an Overall Impression Statement

fatakiTanzania's Fataki project developed an overall impression statement when creating its campaign against sugar daddies.


Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Key message points

Key message points outline the core information that will be conveyed in all messages and activities. Message design cuts across all strategic approaches. Messages must thus reinforce each other across these approaches. When all approaches communicate the same key message points, effectiveness increases.

  1. Draft key message points
    • What are the key points that should be communicated in every message and activity?

Key Message Points
Primary Audience:
Influencing Audience(s):

Identifying Key Message Points

scrutinizeSee how JHHESA identified key message points for South Africa's Scrutinize animerts.

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Finalized list of strategic approaches

  1. Make final decisions on the strategic approaches you will use, referencing your work done in Step 4, Task 1.

Strategic Approaches
Primary Audience:
Influencing Audience(s):

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: List of complementary activities linked to approaches

  1. Develop a range of innovative SBCC activities for each identified audience
    • Each activity should correspond to one or more of the identified strategic approaches
    • Each activity should reinforce and complement other activities for a cumulative effect

Key Message Points Activities
Primary Audience:
Influencing Audience(s):

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: List any additional creative considerations

  1. Describe any creative considerations that the creative team or implementers may need to know.
Additional Creative Considerations:

Final Outputs

  • Strategy positioning and outline

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Step 4: Strategic Approaches (Prev Step)
(Next Step) Step 6: Implementation Plan
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