Brand positioning is a popular buzz word in the world of marketing, but for many people, even CMOs and marketing managers, it is a nebulous concept. The term "positioning" was first popularised by Al Ries and Jack Trout, who published a book about the concept of brand positioning in the 1980s. The concept truly took hold in the 90s, when Ries and Trout published another book titled The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. This book refined the concept of positioning, and is now widely considered to be a true bible on the subject.
When Ries and Trout described the idea of brand positioning, the internet was not widely available and most marketing tended to take place on a local rather than global scale. However, the principles that they described are still just as applicable today as they were 20 or 30 years ago.The Basics of Brand Positioning.
Brand positioning is as much an emotional and image battle as it is a battle to have the best product. It's a sad fact of doing business that being first to market does not guarantee victory, and nor does having a product that is faster, stronger or of better quality. The only thing that truly matters is being the company that establishes itself as being the "brand leader". Once a business has that brand recognition, it is incredibly difficult for another company to claim that position.
This is best evidenced by the dominance of Apple Inc. (AAPL). Apple was not the first company to make computers, digital audio players or phones, but it now dominates in the phone and audio player space and has a loyal set of customers who purchase its laptops and computers. As the most profitable company in the world today, Apple achieved this dominance by re-defining the market.
Apple's digital audio players do not have the most features nor the ultimate audio quality, but they are easy to use and well made. The same is true for their desktops and laptops. The company decided that going head to head against other brands in the enthusiast market was a bad idea. Instead, it focused on building itself as a lifestyle choice. Apple products work well together, and someone who owns one Apple device probably also owns several others. The products look good, are well made and are easy to use. This kind of brand positioning is the easiest and most effective way to establish yourself in an already competitive market sector.Brand Positioning for Regional Businesses.
Today, most businesses are operating in a global marketplace, but it is still possible to achieve a strong regional brand. Businesses can differentiate themselves based on customer service, convenience, speed or even opening times. Stop to think for a moment about the places where you eat. The market has room for fast food, healthy dining, comfort food, and Michelin-starred restaurants that offer a more high-end experience. A business that tried to serve all of those markets at once would be destined to failure.
Brand positioning is achieved through careful marketing and consistent service, as well as response to consumer feedback. Your website and your social media presence can be an incredibly important part of how your brand will be perceived by both current and prospective customers. Online advertising, especially through location-aware services, can also help businesses to attract the demographics that they are interested in.
Brand positioning is both a science and an art form. It is advisable that brand positioning efforts are driven by specialist teams that understand how best to promote your company, and how to generate natural, positive sentiment at scale for your brand.
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