Only Winning Brands Do This

By Chuck Sink | November 28, 2011

Positioning matters more than ever!

By Chuck Sink                                       Subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here

A young professional posted a question for The Brand Strategy Discussion Group on LinkedIn. She’s a Lifestyle and Brand Communications Intern at Daimler (Mercedes Benz). young professionalsShe asks: “Does positioning still matter in today’s fast growing market environment? Are the alternative communication methods slowly taking over a good positioning strategy?”

At first I balked, thinking the question made no sense; that it was like asking if a brand is still a brand. Then I started thinking about how many companies don’t bother with positioning exercises and why that is a major reason they don’t lead their categories. So I decided to read the comments and was pleased to see that this LinkedIn group understands the importance of positioning very well. The comments in the thread were excellent and very informed. The young lady is probably better educated now – more so than her years of college taught her about branding. Why else would she ask the question?

I can understand why young people starting a marketing career may question such old-fashioned marketing fundamentals as positioning. After all it’s a concept expounded upon by Al Ries and Jack Trout during the stone ages of 1980s in their bestselling book so named. The new media technologies and communication channels have some novice marketing professionals dazzled by mere tools and that’s where they focus their energies. They concentrate on where and how to advertise rather than why customers should pay attention to real value. They confuse tactics with good strategy.

The speed with which tech changes have been occurring is quite dazzling but principles of human nature and the mind remain constant. The battle for the mind is still raging. It will always be vitally important for brand marketers to occupy a position in customers’ and prospects’ minds. That’s what positioning is all about and it’s more important today than ever. Short attention spans and message clutter challenge us to apple logohold a consumer’s mind captive for even a few seconds. Therefore, the brand that is positioned best in the mind (and heart) will always be the winner in the market.

Think of some examples. Does Apple position its brand? What about BMW? Of course, they both do. These are two companies that do a superb job of it in my opinion. They occupy dominant positions in consumers’ minds that are communicated with consistency. When asked about these brands, consumers know what they stand for.

Some brands use taglines effectively while others don’t even need them. Apple’s brand positioning is communicated so well at the product level they don’t use tag lines. Mac, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple Store – you get the picture. BMW’s “The Ultimate Drivingbmw_tagline Machine” states clearly that no other automobile can be a BMW. “Ultimate” is an exclusive word so BMW must authentically live up to that standard, and they do. Note well, if they start making less than thrilling-performance cars, their brand value will drop and their positioning will be meaningless. The lesson here is you can’t fake it. When positioning a brand, “truth well told” is our highest ideal.

In summary, positioning is what helps your customers and prospects understand why your products and services are valuable to them. So by all means, invest time and effort in a strong positioning strategy and then start using the myriad communication channels available to you to win the battle for the mind!

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One thought on “Only Winning Brands Do This

  1. Pedro

    I agree to a cartein extent. For me the differentiator is the key. I find that people start getting confused when you talk to them about all the different kinds of positioning. It totally makes sense for those experienced in the branding world but for clients it starts to get tricky. My focus is simply to answer the question How are you different? Many don’t know and then its time to dig deeper and clients should always be heavily involved in the process!

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