I was shooting the breeze the other day with Anil, our paid search guru and one of the most enlightened people working in marketing, when the topic of brand positioning came up. We specifically began talking about a company we both worked for in the past, an ad agency that prides themselves on their ability to identify and communicate a company’s values. Anil mentioned how this agency considers their values expertise the defining factor in their brand positioning.
“That is not a a positioning!” exclaimed Anil.
“Really?” I was surprised by how passionate he felt about the issue.
“It is their process. But that does not necessarily make it a positioning,” Anil stated.
We moved on to talking about some other things. But I found myself thinking about what he said later that day. I did a little digging.
Brand Positioning has been part of our marketing lexicon for over 40 years. Originally developed by Jack Trout, brand positioning has been defined as “identifying and attempting to occupy a market niche for a brand, product or service.”
‘Market niche’ is the operative term. If the market does not exist (or cannot be created), then there is no place for a brand to be positioned. Getting back to Anil’s and my former employer, what this means is that if there is a market niche of companies looking for an agency that communicates on values, then yes this is a legitimate way to position a brand. If not, then back to the drawing board.
This belies a bigger issue – That companies use so much jargon and self-serving rhetoric when developing their brand positioning, that they lose sight of the original purpose of positioning – to serve a legitimate niche in the marketplace.
How well do you know your company’s brand positioning? Can you clearly articulate it? And most importantly, does it identify and answer a legitimate market need? If you’re unsure about any of these, let’s talk.