I’m a big Al Ries fan. His and Jack Trout’s book on Positioning changed my career. I have memories of reading it on a Long Island Rail Road. It’s a great thought piece.
Today however, I take issue with the idea of positioning in branding.
Positioning is the act of finding a competitive and defensible place for your brand in the consumers’ mind. The search for a position — a position being a noun. Position is defined as “a place occupied or to be occupied; site.”
In my brand consultancy branding is defined as “an organizing principle” for product, message and experience. This approach is much more fluid and alive. It allows for branding as a series of behavioral acts. Ongoing. Making ads, customer care, retail design, and web experience all fall into activities that define the brand and its promise. That prove its promise.
With branding as an organizing principle everything is viewed as an active, a non-machine related sales opportunities. Built and enforced by people. Not a destination or compass point in the mind of a consumer.
Positioning was way better than anything before it. And barring any real brand strategy (one idea, three planks) it is the next best approach. But I think we can do a little better.