I wanted to briefly deal with the major concepts marketing, and branding seemed like a perfect topic to kick-off. Let’s start with the definition regarding what constitutes a brand. A brand may refer to an organizational, service or product. I’d like take the following definition into account: “A brand is the sum of the good, bad, the ugly, and the off-strategy. It is defined by our best product as well as our worst product. It is defined by award-winning advertising as well as by god-awful ads that somehow slipped through the cracks, got approved, and, not surprisingly, sank into oblivion. It is defined by the accomplishments of your best employee as well as by the mishaps of your worst hire ever made. It is also defined by your receptionist and the music your customers are subjected to when they are put on hold. For every grand and finely worded public statement by the CEO, the brand is also defined by derisory consumer comments overheard in the hallway or in a chat room on the Internet. Brands are sponges for content, for images, for fleeting feelings. They become psychological concepts held in the minds of the public, where they may stay forever. As such you can’t entirely control a brand. At best you can only guide and influence it” (Bedbury, 2002).
Among all other definitions of the brand and its borders, the above definition gives the exact verbal affluence that allows to successfully address attention to the concept of ‘positioning’. This concept is defined as Philip Kotler mentions in the new foreword of the book ‘Positioning’ by Al Ries and Jack Trout; “For years all of us in marketing taught our students to build a marketing plan around the “four Ps” – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. I began to realize some years ago that the important steps needed to precede the four Ps. All good marketing planning must start with R, Research, before any of the Ps can be set. Research reveals, among other things, that customers differ greatly in their needs, perceptions and preferences. Therefore, customers must be classified into S, Segments. Most companies cannot serve all segments; a company must choose the segment that they can serve at the superior level. This is T, Targeting. Now there is one more step before 4P planning can take place. That is P, Positioning.
Positioning is a revolutionary idea precisely because it cuts across the other four Ps. It informs each of the Ps and adds consistency to them”. (Kotler, 2001)
The idea behind the concept of positioning is that each brand at hand occupies a particular space or point in the mind of each individual consumer. That point is determined by the perception of the consumer of that brand in relation and comparison to other similar brands. As the clutter of brands get wider, it can be clearly said that creating a position for a brand that doesn’t already exist in the mind, is becoming more difficult for marketers, If not impossible.
The foundation to the efforts to position a brand is defined as; “The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie the connection that already exist” (Ries&Trout, 2001). Positioning therefore starts with the intentions to understand the potential consumer’s mental and psychological perceptions of products and results with a decision, which determines the direct competition, the brand is going to face.
I’ll go deeper with positioning and branding in the following days.
Please share your remarks, if you feel like adding or correcting certain points.