In a tele-seminar course I am teaching, we are talking about how to develop Positioning Statements. To prepare, I was doing some background research and find that, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The marketing principles outlined by the advertising greats of the 60’s (David Ogilvy, Al Ries & Jack Trout, Rosser Reeves) are still the same today, they just have to morph with the times.
I read an article written by Nick Wreden of FusionBrand. He is brand strategists who helps companies doing business in Asia. http://www.brandingasia.com/columns/011.htm
In the article, he postured that brand positioning was dead because “The exercise is a company-driven process that reflects how companies wish to sell (“the leading provider of …”) instead of determining what – and how – customers seek to buy. Such posturing worked well in the mass economy, but the tactic is doomed to failure in, as the Economist pointed out, a customer-driven world. Companies can “position” themselves as anything, but unless there is essentially a customer-driven consensus on the brand’s wiki, then the “positioning” is no more than corporate posturing. Instead of seeking to unilaterally “position” their products, companies focused on branding today must devote resources to defining, delivering, measuring and sustaining the value that customers feel they receive.”
That would be a problem if the company sits in an office and dreams up the positioning out of its own head, but that’s not how strong positions are developed! They are developed by talking to consumers, finding out what resonates, and reinforcing something unique that is already believed about a product. It must ring true, which was just as true in the 60’s and 70’s as it is today. The long-standing Avis. We Try Harder positioning came from talking to people in the field, who told Rosser Reeves that they had to try harder because their business was struggling. The ad teams saw the possibilities and an entire company philosophy was then, over decades, built around that positioning.
It doesn’t matter what decade you are talking about; positioning must come from the mind of the consumer.