Posts Tagged 'Nick Wreden'

Nick Wreden on brand positioning

There is a heated discussion on the LinkedIn discussion group “Branding 3.0” about “What is your position on brand positioning?”  A number of marketing professionals on both the corporate and agency side have weighted in.  Most are drawing on their experiences of what actually works and what doesn’t.  Real world, not theoretical.

One of the most cogent critiques of brand positioning comes from Nick Wreden, 

Nick Wreden wrote:

“Positioning” was a great theory for the mass economy, but it is about as relevant to branding today as vinyl LP is to music for the following reasons: 

1. Top executives are demanding accountability from marketing. Yet “positioning” is unmeasureable. Can anyone say, “our positioning is 6% better than last year’s” or “our positioning is 2% better than our competitor’s” or, even more important, “we’re receiving a 12% ROI on our positioning.” 

2. This is a peer-to-peer world, where brands are defined by customers, not by companies, based on their economic, experiential or emotional value. “Positions” are top-down, hierarchical statements from corporate execs or their agencies. Do we automatically believe what companies tell us, or do consumers form their own opinions based on the brand’s execution? 

3. The theory of “positioning” is based on a false premise. It basically assumes your mind is like a parking lot, and all a brand has to do is to drive itself into an empty parking space in your mind. What consumer, bombarded by 5K messages a day, has empty slots for your brand? 

4. Marketing strategies must be customer-centric. Yet “positioning” theory, with its emphasis on competition (always be 1 or 2 in the mind, find a “position” not occupied by competitors, etc.) is shaped by the competition. Success will always be defined by how proactive you are in respect to customers, not about how reactive you are to competition. 

On the discussion board there are also a number of passionate defenders of the brand positioning model.  One of the best and smartest is Carlos Carrion.  He was one of the executives at Telefonica during the pivotal years when the company consolidated dozens of local brands into a single Telefonica brand.  The success of that branding strategy is evident today in the enduring strength of the Telefonica brand.


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