Written by Julian Stubbs | Stockholm
on February 28, 2011

Without doubt one of the most important, and usually difficult, decisions any brand will have to make is in defining what they are really offering people. What they are offering them in comparison to other competitive brands.

All of this comes down to a question of choosing an appropriate positioning. It’s all about finding a little space in people’s minds where they can slot your brand in relation to the other brands and choices they have. A little box that your brand can legitimately own. It’s worth pointing out that we are not necessarily yet looking for a tag line. Tag lines and other external executional elements can be developed later – if appropriate. We’re looking for a centre point for the brand that is credible, relevant, simple and available.

We all make constant positioning decisions everyday. Faster versus slower, complex versus simple, expensive versus cheaper. Our brains are making constant comparisons and putting things into mental boxes.

When you’ve eventually found the right positioning, you know it right away. It’s normally because there is a red thread of truth running through it. There will also be an edge to it that makes you feel almost uncomfortable sometimes. It has an energy. When you find that nugget of gold, it’s a great feeling. And once you have found the one that is appropriate, it gives you a centre point that allows you to create a coherent strategy and focus for all of your marketing and business activities.

This can be leveraged to great advantage. What’s the real difference between a car costing US$ 30,000 and US$ 300,000? An important little zero I hear you cry. Yes, that’s about it. An important little zero that adds a factor of ten to the cost. So why is that?

At the end of the day a Fiat Abarth is pretty darned quick. It has great brakes, and can carry four people. Well, to be honest, four fairly small Italian people I grant you. But does a Lamborghini Gallardo really justify a cost factor of ten times the price based on pure specification and performance? Well let’s examine the facts. The Fiat has a top speed of just under 130 miles per hour, which is pretty fast, especially if you never take it outside of downtown London. Surely the Lamborghini must do around a thousand miles an hour to justify its price tag? Well no, top speed is a mere 190 mph. And then there’s the space. You can’t even get four small Italians in the Gallardo – more like two very small Italians accompanied by their Louis Vuitton light weight weekend luggage consisting of a couple of small pairs of clean underwear, because that’s about all you have room for.

No, the real difference is in the positioning. The Fiat says I’m a city dweller, a bit trendy and I’m also saving huge amounts on fuel. It also says I can’t afford a Lamborghini, but I aspire to have one when I grow up. As for the Lamborghini, it doesn’t say anything, it shouts – I’m a god from the planet Vulcan. I have vast wealth and power and you, mere mortal, are lucky just to be in my presence. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but you get the point.

Yes, positioning has powerful effects and the car industry has been using it for years to sell us cars that, in all honesty, are pretty similar under the bonnet. Apart from the price tag. Positioning is a powerful thing.

So if it’s creating a true brand experience that has impact, UP are the people for you to talk to.

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