Tag Archives: Positioning

Brand Pooooo-ooositioning

Brand positioning statement is often confused with a company tagline or slogan. At some level that isn’t completely wrong but if one tries to understand the true meaning of both, in fact they are very different.

Positioning statements are for internal usage and understanding the broader concept for the internal audience, about what is expected from them. Business is driven basis these statements which includes the marketing and the operating aspects.

Whereas a tag line is developed for the consumers to portray the same positioning for an external audience, used in primarily the marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline, but it is important to distinguish between the two.

Examples of Positioning & Tagline


Positioning: fascination, perfection and responsibility

Tagline: Engineered like no other car in the world


Positioning: Quality, technology, performance and exclusivity

Tagline: The ultimate driving machine

Brand positioning means owning a piece of real estate in the consumers mind. The key here is to make sure that one captures an empty slot and not trying to win over an occupied one. Hence the key is to be first else some other brand will occupy that space. It helps the brand get the preference over competition, it also ensures that Positioning needs to be based on an extremely strong insight else getting the mind space is impossible.

Mind space occupied by brands

Brand positioning refers to “target consumer’s” reason to buy your brand in preference to others. It is ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.

In the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Reis and Trout’s, positioning means the idea is to find and attempt to “own” a marketing niche for a brand, product, or service using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The idea is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.

Every business is unique and offers its products and services with their personal touch and hence the positioning also needs to have the same differentiated touch else it will be easily adopted or copied. Each and every employee of the brand needs to have the positioning in their mind and make sure in their own way this is driven. For e.g. if positioning is to offer performance car than right from the build quality of the car to the dealership everything should shout out performance.

But this is easier said than done, many marketers themselves forget about the positioning of the company and in the quest of trying something new deviate from this. And if the creators deviate other don’t even bother following. Turning everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you can create something special. Only once the internal audience accept and follow the positioning will the external start believing in the same.

There are various ways to position a brand

Own a category benefit
Volvo: Safety
Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling
Walt Disney Company: Magic

Consumer Centric
U.S. Army: Be all you can be
Budweiser: For all you do, this Bud’s for you
Pepsi Generation

Company Operation
Burger King: Have it your way
United Airlines: The friendly skies of United
WalMart: Always the lowest price

Competition based
Avis: We’re #2. We try harder
Seven-Up: The Un-cola
Apple: Think different


Selecting one of the above is completely dependent a combination of all the above factors like the category, consumer, brand & its competition. Whichever one gives a stronger differentiator then it should be picked and explored further to be articulated in a consumer friendly language.

The WHY of any Brand

There are a lot of brands successful and still going strong (cult brands) and then there were some strong brands then but now are either shut or struggling. So how can a brand falter so much when once it was a strong dominant market leader and now a struggling or a bankrupt brand today. How can something go so wrong that it results in well oiled money-making machine going bust. The most common top of mind answers would be – change in strategy, sub-optimal resources, faulty marketing, inefficient sales, etc. But do you think these are the real reasons since all of these could have been changed back to the original ones and the brand would have been back on track.

business and brands

So what happened to make it that irreversible change? I feel that the most important thing for any organization is not ‘what’ they are doing or ‘how’ they are doing but it’s the ‘WHY’ they are doing is the most important thing. The What & How are things like marketing, positioning, strategy which are easily changeable but the moment you change the WHY, which the reason for the brand’s existence then its a serious and a fatal problem.

A brand is started with an end goal in mind which is the WHY and unless the why is clear none of what and how elements make any sense. So if the purpose of a brand changes it is very difficult for a consumer to digest a fact that a brand supplying computers is now making phones hence the belief on the brand is low. Yes companies do go into newer territories to ensure growth objectives are met but then it’s what the company stakeholders want and not what the consumers want.

Just to give an e.g. today radio transistors aren’t something you see but idea of a radio was to entertain so the next logical upgrade for a RT brand is to get into an innovation mode and figure the next mode of innovation like a walk-man or stereo system when they hit the wall in terms of sales. But if a brand got into something like computers which was at that time meant to be the next big thing although logically it made sense to move from transistors to transponders/semi conductors but the mission of the company changed from providing entertainment to easy computing. This is where they go bust.

And if you look at successful brands like Harley Davidson they never change their mission (why) “We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclist and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.” and continue to have all new products, communication and all activities that glorifies the WHY of their brand.

Just feel that it’s important for a brand to stand true to its mission and tweak the vision if at all need be to be successful in the long run.