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Core Branding

Positioning – Checklist

This post assumes that you know the basics of positioning. We were looking at creating a checklist of a range of positioning attributes from different sources as a starting point as you go about creating one for your brand.
We haven’t gone into detailed explanations or given examples, purposefully. This is more of a quick ready list to spark something in your mind in some way.

We must evaluate different options against the 4 tenets of Positioning – It must be meaningful, Credible, Unique and Durable (over time).

It is generally easier to create the maximum impact when you are first (the Neil Armstrong effect) in the consumer’s mind. So it is essential that we start by ruling out that we cannot be first (in anything).

Trout, in his book, talks about eight ways in which a brand can position itself.

  • Be the first
  • Be a Specialist
  • Own an unique attribute
  • The preffered one (Brand preffered either, by most of the people, or by the people who matter)
  • Be the No.1 (in anything)
  • Own a unique capability (Magic ingredient, patented technology)
  • Have a heritage – A continuous participant, Immortal, grounded, many ways of looking at this.
  • Be the latest (However, don’t mess with tradition and don’t solve a non existent problem)

Kotler’s list goes like this:

  • Attribute – Oldest, Tallest, etc.
  • Benefit – Cleans better
  • Application / Usage – Best across uses
  • User Positioning – Used by..
  • Competitor Positioning
  • Category Positioning
  • Quality / Price

Kapferer mentions a few similar approaches:

  • A differentiating attribute – 25% Moisturiser (Dove)
  • An Objective Benefit – Cleans better
  • A Subjective Benefit – IBM = security
  • Unique aspect of the brand’s personality – Bacardi Bat (mystery)
  • Imaginary realm, Imagery and meaning Marlboro, Levis, Ralph Lauren
  • A reflection of theConsumer typeSuccessful people use Amex
  • Deep Values Nestle’s maternal love

There is another list of approaches, which i had written down in my notes (but cannot remember from where):

  • Product Characteristic or Benefit led
  • Price vs. Quality
  • Applications n Uses (Lunchtime, Dinnertime; Summer, all year; etc.
  • Product – User (Miller – Heavy drinker)
  • Product – Class (7 up – Uncola)
  • Cultural Symbol
  • vs. Competitor

Most positioning strategies are dealt during market entry. So a few positioning strategies for Challenger Brands:

  • The People’s Champion (Virgin Atlantic)
  • David (vs. Goliath)
  • The ‘real and human’ Challenger (Real people in a faceless category, Ben n Jerry’s)
  • The Missionary (Putting the category right, Dove)
  • The Democratiser (Anti Elite, Making ‘exclusive products’ available to the ‘masses’)
  • The Irreverent Maverick (Red Bull, Mountain Dew)
  • The Visionary (Apple)
  • The Game Changer (change fundamentals, Napster)
  • The ‘Killer app’ (Revolutionary product)
  • The Next Generation (Pepsi)
  • More for less

Specifically, Challenger brands must look for a ‘light house identity’ which is what positioning is all about. They can take a few routes – Assume thought leadership, Create symbols of re-evaluation, Over commit.

The one below is a more comprehensive and finer list. Hope few of them spark fresh thought:

Sensory – Visual, Smell, Touch, Sound, Comfort
Understanding / Education
Authoritative / Expert / Leader / Innovator
Endurance / Dependability
Healthy / Good for you / Natural, Pure, Wholesome, Preventative
Special / Personal / Customised / personalised
Service – Speed, Personal, Knowledgeable, Hassle-free, Convenience
Guarantee – Unconditional, 100% satisfaction, Hassle-free
Source of origin
Versatility, Utilization
Scarcity (uniqueness)/ One of a kind / The original / The first one / The last one
Communications – Advertising/marketing excellence
Value – Price, Time, Feelings
Personality, emotion (feelings)
Sense of humor
Design (aesthetics)
Typeface (font)

What to do next?
Trust this has given you a few ideas on positioning your product. You must however remember that once a positioning platform has been taken, you must ensure that every aspect of the product reflects this platform. See the yellow lines in the customer decision map below for areas which can strengthen the platform.
Product Attributes types

Further Recommended reading:
Some must reads on the topic are:
Ries, A. and Trout, J. Positioning, The battle for your mind
Trout, J., “Positioning”
Specific to Challenger Brands – Eating the big fish, by Adam Morgan



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