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NEED a positioning?

Ulli Appelbaum reckons there are twenty-six different ways to position a brand, which seems a good number.

To be fair, in his book The Brand Positioning Workbook he calls them “sources of brand associations”. He’s one of those who likes to look at a brand as a bundle of associations.

So let’s test out his A-Z using my own mental rolodex of brands, ones I’ve worked on and others that come to mind. All with a UK centre of gravity.

1. Tap into consumer rituals

Tetley with its ‘tea moment’. An emotional journey from anticipation to feeling better.

2. Disrupt the category conventions

Oatly are all over this. It’s like milk but made for humans.

3. Claim the category gold standard

Lurpak does this in butter. Good food deserves Lurpak.

4. Leverage the usage or consumption context

Apple, of course. All those bright white Airpods and shiny laptop logos in coffee shops. Think (and look) different.

5. Identify an enemy

We used this at BMP with Felix vs. Whiskas. 8 out of 10 owners said their cat might prefer Whiskas, but cats like Felix like Felix.

6. Overcome consumption barriers

Schwartz making it simpler for everyday cooks to flavour your way.

7. Resolve a category paradox

Can a healthy snack ever be tasty? I now buy a brand called Kind, but the search goes on. Because what I really want is chocolate.

8. Redefine the business you’re in

Amazon keep on doing this. Remember, Jeff used to run a bookshop.

9. Be part of culture

I see you, JD Sports and your drawstring duffle bag.

10. Tell a compelling benefit story

Checkatrade with Julius Caesar and recommendations you can rely on. Bigger and better than TrustATrader and never trust anyone who says “trust me”.

11. Dramatize the reward - or the threat

Always a central part of Direct Line’s Fixer campaign, staying on top of life, avoiding the threat of exposure. Can your insurance do that?

12. Celebrate the sensory properties of the product

Jameson’s Irish Whiskey has always been about smoothness. The double meaning creates the positioning. The smoother the Irish.

13. Align your brand’s values with aspirational consumers’ values

Rimmel with individuality, self-expression, boldness and Maya Jama. Live the London look.

14. Create a ritual around the usage of your brand

Jaffa Cakes have finally brought back ‘Full Moon! Half Moon! Total Eclipse!’, this time with Bonnie Tyler. That chocolatey-orange rascal.

15. Identify you brand’s purpose

So Dove, Patagonia and, er…oh yes, Tony’s Chocolonely. Do you think people know it’s 100% slave free?

16. Identify your brand’s archetype

Never sure about this one either. Maybe in the right category, like fragrance. Sauvage with Johnny Depp, Daisy by Marc Jacobs.

17. Identify the brand’s defining attributes

This can be hard with so many brands promising to make your life easier or save you money. MoneySuperMarket are giving it a good go with ‘Saving Britain serious money’.

18. Give meaning to a perceived weakness

Häagen-Dazs straight from the freezer. We’re going to need a stronger spoon.

19. Tell the product’s creation story

Clover dairy spread has always talked about being made with buttermilk. It even used to say it was churned with love.

20. Romance the way the product works

Like Aunt Bessie’s with her Bake at Home Yorkshire Puddings. Bring out the Bessie in you.

21. Celebrate your ingredients

Made the world of difference when Heinz Tomato Ketchup reminded parents it was made of tomatoes. One of Closer to Brands’ first projects.

22. Submit your brand to a torture test

Araldite glue once stuck a car to a poster site with the headline ‘Also sticks handles to teapots’. It then put a second car on top of the first and changed the line to ‘The tension mounts’. Finally, both cars disappeared and there was just a hole with ‘How did we pull that off?’

23. Tell your origin story

Casillero del Diablo do this with Pedro Pascal. Wine so special it’s protected by the devil.

24. Create a sense of scarcity and exclusivity

Ask my son about Prime, he collects the cans.

25. Let experts tell your stories

As recommended by Chinese beauty influencers like Austin Li, the Lipstick King. Mind you, he’s in trouble for asking if a viewer had been working "hard enough" to afford the product he was promoting. Oops.

26. Become your brand’s archaeologist

Mr. Oscar Benson and Colonel ‘Bertie’ Dickson acquiring a confectionery business in Kensington, London in 1930. Then Oscar’s sister-in-law, Lucia, creating the perfect balance of 95% cocoa dark chocolate and natural peppermint oil, the Bendicks Bittermint.

So it’s a pretty useful list. The book’s a good read too. £16.29 from Amazon.

But if you think about it, No.11 - the one about rewards and threats - that’s the one, isn’t it? Towards this, away from that.

Ulli even says under that heading that “understanding what drives people to purchase a specific category and/or choose a specific brand is the foundation of any successful positioning”.

All depends on your approach to positioning, I suppose. It’s OK for your brand to be the sum of three to four associations but you can only have one essence.

And if it’s a single essence you’re after, better set your sights on a single need.

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