Advanced Brand Positioning Strategies

Establishing the proper position for your business in the marketplace is one of the key ingredients for success. If you need to brush up on the basic principles of positioning, check out the post “phentermine in drug test.” Once you’re ready for more advanced tactics, the three ideas in this post will help you take your brand’s position from established to outstanding.

Focus on owning a single word in the marketplace.

If your company is going to position itself successfully, it needs to attempt to own a word in the mind of the consumer. Google has become synonymous with search, Xerox has done the same for copies, iPad with tablets, Photoshop for digital image manipulation, FexEd for overnight shipping, and Skype has done it with video chat. The key here is that, if you want to own a term in consumers’ minds, you have to focus your brand on a narrow offering.

In other words, you have to give up something in order to get something.

There’s a reason that we Google but we don’t AltaVista or a Yahoo. When Google first tried to establish themselves, they did search and search only. Not only did this help them focus on creating the best product possible, but it allowed Google to position themselves as the go-to site for search by establishing the connection for consumers.

It was only after corning the market that Google expanded to other services (which have their own brand names — Gmail for mail or Chrome for internet browser as examples).

While Google worked at being the predominant king of search, Yahoo and Altavista tried to do a bit of everything along with search … auctions, games, topic boards, comparison shopping, and more. Basically they both tried to become a one-stop shop or portal. While this might have been a good strategy to keep people on-site, when non-Yahoo or non-AltaVista users wanted to search for something online, the first word that popped into their minds was “Google.”

As difficult as it is, you need to do the same for your business. You need to identify places where your company is divided in what it does, and either create a new brand for those other offerings, so that each one can have its own unique position, or simply shut down any extraneous lines of business. While it may be painful in the short term, it will ensure your company has a strong and secure position in the long run.

Don’t follow the leader — do the opposite.

Too often companies see the most successful business in their field, think to themselves “they must know what works and what doesn’t,” and then begin trying to do the same things as the leading company, only better.

For example, if your competitor is the top toothpaste brand, and they are effectively selling their product by branding their product is effective for fighting cavities, it would be a waste of time to try to convince the market you can fight more cavities.

If your competition already owns that position, you don’t have the time or the money to it take over. What you can do instead is pick an alternative attribute to position your business around. If your top competitor owns fighting cavities, you should try to get fresh breath, whitening, flavor, sensitive teeth, or any number of other positions instead.

As an example, take a look at Saturn which was developed by GM as a separate entity to combat the shrinking domestic market for passenger cars and the flood of cheap imports coming in.

Saturn needed to find a way to differentiate themselves from all the other automakers — creating ads that focused on cheaper price or internal features wouldn’t be enough as Saturn wasn’t the cheapest car available nor the most feature rich.

Instead, Saturn was able to differentiate themselves from the competition by focusing on the human element rather than product. Their advertisements focused on providing good customer service and providing a pleasant buying experience.

Hi. We’re new in town. We’re very pleased to announce the opening of our newest Saturn showroom. And we’d like to invite you in for a visit — to show you some of the ways we’re trying to change the automobile business. It’s in the way we design our cars. And how we build them. And most of all, how very differently we take care of our customers — more like how you’d treat a new neighbor. (Which we are, we guess).

Admit a negative to get a positive.

Whenever you make a negative or less-than-flattering statement about your business, your prospects will immediately accept it as true. After all, why would you make up something bad to say about your own company, and then publicize it?

On the other hand, positive statements you make — particularly in advertisements — will be taken with a degree of skepticism at best and outright distrust at worst. Therefore, it can sometimes be easier to work your way into the minds of a customer by using a negative to gain their trust and then twisting it into a positive.

There are a number of great examples of this strategy in action. For example, Listerine used the tagline “The taste you hate, twice a day.” Admitting that their product didn’t taste good implied to their prospects that it had to be extremely effective.

The taste you hate twice a day

Smucker’s did the same thing when they said “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” Smucker’s acknowledges that they don’t have a particularly attractive or catchy name, but the implication is that their products must be great since they’ve been so successful all these years.

Avis turned their fortunes around from 1962 — 1963 when DDB copywriter Paula Green came up with the tagline “We Try Harder”. The “We try harder” campaign was so successful that Avis when from losing $3.2 million in 1962 to making a profit of $1.2 million in 1963 (the first time in 13 years).

Avis used the slogan in many ways including admission that they were number 2 when it came to the rent-a-car business (behind Hertz). However they flipped a perceived negative into a positive by letting people know that they had to try harder because they weren’t the biggest company in the industry.

If you’re marketing a product that is having trouble getting acceptance in the marketplace, try looking for ways to promote something negative about your business to gain prospects’ trust, and then flip it into a positive so that they no longer see it as a reason not to do business with you but instead as proof of why you’re valuable in some other way.

Which of these positioning strategies are you most excited to try for your business? Let me know which one and why in the comments!

Note: The term “positioning” became popular in the early 1980s when Al Ries and Jack Trout published a book with that title. At the time it was a fairly revolutionary idea, and it spread rapidly up the ranks of many successful businesses. Then roughly a decade later, they published another book that refined their concept of positioning even further called The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. These two books are like the old and new testament for brand positioning, and the recommendations in this post are largely drawn from this body of work.

Originally published at on December 31, 2016.