Brand positioning explained, for a smart economy

The world has changed dramatically since 1981 when Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote in Positioning about the importance of positioning your firm in the customer’s mind.

They lived in a mass marketing world; today we live in a sense and respond world. If you have 77 seconds, watch the Evrythng video above, and see what we mean.

First, position your company as smart

As we wrote in Smart Customers, Stupid Companies, a chasm has emerged between smart customers and companies that continue to operate in ways that customers perceive to be dumb. Since being dumber than your customers is not a viable strategy, the first objective of positioning is to position your company and its offerings as smart.

In 1981, this would have meant evoking certain imagery and emotions. Today, it means changing the substance of what you do. You can’t just “spin” a dumb company into a smart positioning. You actually have to act in an intelligent manner.

Second, be smart about what your customer needs

Your goal isn’t to be perceived as the smartest company on the block; that’s a path to arrogance. No, your company wants to be smart in a manner that matters to each customer. We say that intelligence means having something of value to say, and knowing what to say differently to one person than other.

You need a brand positioning statement that serves as the foundation of what you have to say.

Third, be clear, simple and compelling

Your customers and employees all confront thousands of messages a day. You know this is true, because you have the same experience yourself.

Yes, they are smart enough to understand complex messages, but most lack the time that such communications require.

Our world is getting exceedingly complex. Your job is to simplify it.

Positioning lets you make life simpler for your customers. It gives them a simple answer to the question: can this company help me, or not?

Positioning also makes life easier for your employees. It tells them what you stand for, what value you add, and how you do business.

But all of these things are true only if your positioning is clear, simple and effective.

The more clarity you bring to your positioning, the more likely you are to get what you want.