What’s the #1 Mistake Made When Crafting a Brand Positioning?
By Linda Pedersen
Before I get into the details of that, however, I need to take a step back and clarify something important. The top mistake made in the realm of brand positioning is to not do it – to not deliberately identify your most powerful positioning, and instead, to let the market decide this for you.
Positioning happens, whether or not you are driving it. If you allow yourself to be positioned by the market, it most likely will not be your optimal brand position for growth. So the number-one mistake is to underestimate the importance of brand positioning by not intentionally claiming your brand position at all.
Now that we have that out of the way:
For businesses that do carefully create a brand positioning, the most common pitfall is choosing a positioning idea that is not ownable and differentiated. What I see frequently is a business pinning its brand on a benefit that is not only not unique to the market – it’s a must-have for anyone in the space. This is often referred to as a category benefit. I like to call it table stakes.
What does “table stakes” mean in brand positioning?
Let’s say you’re selling pancake mix. Except in special circumstances, you cannot focus on a category benefit of pancakes, such as “comfort food on Sunday mornings.” That is something all pancake brands offer, so you have to focus on something that only you bring to the pancake experience.
What special circumstances?
You can get around this rule if your brand dominates the category. For example, since Clorox Bleach is the majority share of the bleach category, they can focus on category benefits – like whitening and disinfecting – rather than Clorox Bleach-specific benefits, like “It’s the brand that Mom used.”
So what should a non-dominant brand do?