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Sunday, March 6, 2011



Brand Positioning: The way we (the Company)
want our consumers/customers to perceive, think, and feel
about our brand relative to competition.


We have been using the above definition of Brand Positioning in our training programs for nearly twenty years, and it seems to have stood the test of time very well. In more recent times, when so many products in so many categories and classes perform similarly (and pretty darn well), we have more and more pointed out that the three verbs it contains—“perceive, think, and feel”—are not only purposeful but also in the right order of importance. There can be little doubt nowadays that the perception we create about our brand (and the product it houses) has become a most promising way to achieve meaningful differentiation among the brand’s target.


In marketing, most of us are trained to conceive of the Brand Positioning as a strategic document; it is often even referred to more formally as a “Brand Positioning Strategy.” And, with most strategic documents, many of us are also trained to view them as fact-based, analytical in nature, normally quite literal in intent. It seems we rarely think of strategic documents as being simultaneously creative in nature. In fact, we typically go to great pains to separate the strategic from the creative: for example, when we are working towards new communications for the brand, we first develop a Creative Brief—clearly a strategic document that, we often say, is written in strategic language—and then we assign the creative resources to translate that Brief into creative material. So, it may strike some as odd that we use the term in this week’s title, “Creative Positioning.”


But if we take our longstanding definition of Brand Positioning seriously, for most brands now it is simply not enough to be “strategic” in developing a competitive positioning. No, we more and more also need to be “creative” in developing a competitive positioning for the brand. What is Creative Positioning? We think it is best summed up as “creating an impression of meaningful differentiation for a brand whose product performs, well, the same as others.” What’s really important to remember when pursuing creative positioning, however, is that each element of the classic Brand Positioning Strategy—Target, Competitive Framework, Benefit, Reason Why, and Brand Character—offers an opportunity “to create” an impression of meaningful differentiation.


Of course, talking conceptually here about getting creative with the brand positioning elements and actually doing it in practice are two different things. So very often, despite our best intentions to come up with a new creative “angle” for our brand’s positioning, we struggle with getting started. We know this because we also have struggled at times like this. But one way that may be quite useful in getting started with the creative positioning process can be expressed in that phrase we hear so frequently lately: change the conversation in the category. To be clear, while the sentence “change the conversation” sounds to be specifically referring only to communications, we take it to mean, first and foremost, “change the positioning conversation.” In other words, if we truly aim to change a longstanding (even tired?) conversation in a category or class, we must alter not merely what we say but also what we do in that category or class.


The best way to understand how changing the conversation can effect a creative brand positioning is probably to take a look at some good examples. So, for this week’s Boats & Helicopters, we want to share a range of “conversation-changing” brands…by brands that are inherently very good but parity-performers in their respective categories. We think that, in each case, by changing a predictable and uninspiring conversation—some modestly and some more dramatically—the brand is effectively implementing a creative brand positioning. 


BOATS & HELICOPTERS: Creative Positioning by Changing the Conversation


Purex Toilet Tissue (New Zealand)

“Purex is the only toilet tissue brand that is committed to consistently giving back to the community.”

  1. Added new Emotional Benefit: Caring for the Community
  2. Added new, on-going, Reason Why partnership: Official Sponsor of Red Cross (to the existing Environment Choice Eco-Label)
Duracell Battery

“While it may not be the biggest decision of your day, consider this: when monitoring patients after open-heart surgery, the brand of battery hospitals choose most is Duracell.”

     Added new, select Reason  
     Why endorsements: for
     example, Heart Hospitals,
     IMAX, Rocky Mountain Rescue

KY Yours & Mine Lubricants “His excites. Hers delights. Together feel them ignite.”
  1. Product Innovation: two Reason Why formulations in one package—for him and her
  2. Target Choice: a large and growing psychographic segment of “Intimacy Enhancement Seekers”

U by Kotex Tampons & Pads

“I tied a tampon to my key-ring so my brother wouldn’t take my car. It worked.”

  1. Target Choice: Young teens and women who “sniff out phonies” and share their points-of-view in a brutally honest fashion
  2. Counter-Category packaging (black & neon colors)
  3. Social Media to drive Brand Character sharing

Quilted Northern Toilet Tissue

“It’s time to get real about what really happens in the bathroom. Stop all the cutesy stuff.”

   TBD—Just beginning with a new ad campaign


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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