Brand positioning is the craft of choosing how your buyers see, discover, and access your product. It’s important to note that positioning is a gerund – a verb that acts as a noun, and denotes progressive or continuous action. First, you have to decide where you want your brand to be, then you send off what we call cues to the buyer and the general public. These cues are the symbols, words, slogans, images, pricing, and distribution management that put your brand in a certain position relative to its competition.
The following are just a few of the tools in your brand positioning tool box:
- You can use the name, logo, slogan, even the packaging and distribution management in brand positioning. L’eggs Pantyhose is an excellent example of using all of the above to position its brand. The company seized upon the concept of “eggs” – which rhymes with legs – and used it in its name, its font (the lower loop of the gg’s contain egg-shapes), and in their original packaging. L’eggs was introduced in an egg shaped container and got into stores more easily because its product didn’t require shelf space – the L’eggs stand-alone rack required only two square feet of floor space.
- Your distribution strategy is a brand positioning tool. It’s not just how companies position a brand in terms of quality and price, but how they actually got it in the marketplace. During World War II, Coca-Cola set up 64 bottling plants around the world to supply the troops. These plants helped accelerate Coca-Cola’s international growth. Coca-cola is an excellent example of a company that made its distribution strategy part of its brand positioning.
- Advertising is another brand positioning tool. Whether you use conventional advertising, worthy-cause marketing, the Internet, signs, billboards, or the package or brand itself, it is all advertising. Xerox has positioned itself as the quintessential copy machine; Canon has positioned itself as the affordable high-quality camera; and Kleenex has positioned itself as the leading facial tissue. These are all examples of successful brand positioning achieved via the way the brands were advertised.
- What your company does can be a power tool. If you’re positioning your brand as the good guy, you might want to back a worthy cause. With the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft is positioned as the good guy. The brand is viewed in a positive light through what the company does. It has nothing to do with the brand itself. But with it, the company gets great exposure, positive press and gives their customers “social permission” to buy their products.
- Brand positioning includes re-positioning. Once a brand has lost its steam, your brand may need to be repositioned. Repositioning can breathe life back into a brand. IBM is positioning itself as a dependable source of software and applications, but at first they positioned themselves as the maker of calculating machines, then typewriters. IBM is a good example of a brand that continues to act – to position and reposition itself.
These are some of the tools at your disposal in the ongoing process of brand positioning. The value of your brand depends on it. In my experience, success has everything to do with brand positioning.
Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Brand Positioning with your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at www.thebarefootspirit.com.
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