Brands & Positioning

If marketing is built on the fundamentals of branding, then branding is very much built on the fundamentals of positioning.

So what do we mean when we say positioning?  Whether we actively think about it or not, positioning is something that influences our everyday decisions about all sorts of issues. From simply buying lunch or considering something more substantial like which make of computer to buy, we are constantly being influenced by positioning to help us make our choices. Highest quality products vs. good-enough quality, reliable vs. cutting edge innovation, cheaper vs. more expensive, bigger vs. smaller – we are constantly putting things in ‘mental boxes’. It’s all about how we position things in our mind – that’s positioning.

The same applies to how we all view and position corporations. If we consider Microsoft or Apple, Volvo or Volkswagen, or even GE or Siemens people instantly have pretty clear mental pictures of what those corporate brands represent. So how do great brands attain distinct and strong positions?

Today we are all deluged with media. Although the number is somewhat debated, we are all impacted by around 500 brand impressions everyday via TV, radio, posters, magazines, newspapers, word of mouth and increasingly the internet. We are surrounded by brands competing for our attention. To help build clear brand positions in all the media noise, great brands keep their positioning simple, clear and consistent.

As one example look at BMW and how they have kept a clear position and consistent focus over the last 30 years built around ‘the ultimate driving machine’. They even boil that tag line down to just one word – driving. What they are really saying is if you want a true driver’s car, then you have to put BMW on the consideration list. The tag line is there to prove why the brand is relevant to the consumer’s life.

On a corporate, level look at the new positioning of Phillips, the Dutch multinational, Sense and Sensibility. On their corporate website Phillips claim they are… ‘convinced that no matter how complex and advanced an application or solution is, it should be simple to use and make sense’. Phillips is using this to bring their activities into a clear focus.

So positioning can play a crucial role in shaping how the world views a company and its activities.