Why Brand Positioning Matters

Updated: Jun 3

How to position your product as the only choice for customers...

The OGs of “positioning”, Al Ries and Jack Trout, believe that the customer has a finite amount of space in their head where they can remember products. For each category (a category meaning smartphones, sportswear, etc.) there’s room for maybe 3 brand names.

If your brand doesn’t occupy one of the 3 top slots in your category, it’s time to start thinking about how you can deposition a competitor who is.

When considering positioning, let’s bring to mind the car company, Volvo. Take a second: What word springs to mind when you think of Volvo?

Ask most people this question, and they will say “safe”. Through clever branding, Volvo now owns the word “safe”. Over decades, they have carved out their position as the safest car manufacturer; the car that sensible people buy, people who prioritise their family’s security.

The thing is… Volvo hasn’t been the safest car manufacturer for years. Honda has owned that accolade for more than a decade. The honour of safest car is currently held by Genesis, a South Korean luxury car manufacturer.

Volvo’s brand is so well positioned in our minds as the “safe” car option, that it doesn’t need to be true anymore for us to believe it.

I think the modern consumer has room for multiple brands per category, but if we consider the first ones that pop into our head, we will find a hierarchy.

Let’s see if you agree. What are the brands that pop into your head when you think of :

  1. Smartphone manufacturers?

  2. Fast food restaurants?

  3. Sportswear brands?

In each category, did you find it easy to come up with brands? Did the 1st one spring to mind? Was the 2nd hot on it’s heels? Maybe the 3rd brand trailed a little at the back?

Now, compare your answers to mine:

  1. Apple, Samsung, Huawei