The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Positioning Statements, Actually Position …
April 18, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things that bugs me with so many brands these days is how bland their positioning lines are.

If I see another that says something like, “Your _______, Our _______” or Your _______, Your _______, Your _______”, I will scream.

What those sorts of lines are really communicating is, “we will be anything you want us to be because we’re so desperate for your business, we don’t want to risk saying or doing anything you may find unappealing”.

To be honest, it’s the absolute opposite of positioning because anyone who comes into contact with it is left without any distinct impression of who you are, what you do or what you believe.

Of course the reality is they should be able to understand this by the product or service they execute rather than just the advertising they make, but you get the idea.

I’ve always loved positioning that leaves you in no uncertain terms what the brand is or does or believes.

If anything, they either polarise or sacrifice … ensuring they actually mean something to the people they want to engage rather than some bland, boring rubbish that could represent anyone or anything.

And when I say ‘mean something to people they want to engage’, I mean it in terms of more than simply being defined as men or women aged 18-54.

That’s why I always loved the AA stuff at HHCL [To our members, we’re the 4th emergency service] or the one we proposed to Punch Magazine [Keeping libel lawyers in business since 1841] … however I saw one recently that might have become my new favourite:

How good is that!?

Not only does it have the critical elements of being clear and concise … but it’s amusing at the same time.


I suppose that’s why I always quite liked seeing how Church’s position themselves – even if it’s only via the sign outside their premises – because they weren’t afraid of having a point of view and weren’t afraid of committing to it through thick and thin.

In this world where brands go on about how important it is to build ‘loyalty’, it’s amazing how many approach this goal with boring people to death rather than doing something that will attract them.

But then when you strip the arrogance of business away, you realise they are frightened little children who are scared and desperate to be liked and don’t want to risk doing anything that could jeopardise that.

Maybe they should watch the movie ‘The Quiet American’ … a movie that was [name drop time] directed by my wife’s uncle … because there’s a great line in it that say’s …

“At some point, you’ve got to decide which side of the fence you’re going to land on”

… though maybe the more appropriate quote is from Malcolm X …

“If you don’t stand for something, they’ll fall for anything”.

While my view of what a brand is may be different to many other peoples, I still believe it’s about having something that has an irrational hold on people’s hearts, minds and habits.

With that view, it is physically impossible to be a brand if you embrace being bland.

21 Comments so far
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The general consensus seems to be that it’s better to be bland and broad than to say anything that could put off a potential customer from interacting with you. We are in the era of unpositioning. Worse, we are in the era where brands think people make choices based purely on a positioning line.

Comment by Pete

Well said.

Comment by George

Yep, that’s a great point Pete. I do believe positioning – real positioning – is important, but it’s certainly not the difference between success and failure … that’s down to things like product, service, quality, reputation and price.

However, when a company spends millions on product development and production and wants a positioning that basically is about ‘blending in, rather than standing out’, I can only assume it’s down to them thinking they’re not as confident about their product as they would like us to believe.

Comment by Roberto

Product development for personal KPI’s rather than satisfying audience needs.

Comment by Pete

Google translate failed me on that one.

Comment by John

Now you can feel sorry for people in advertising because that’s the language clients say to them every day.

Comment by Pete

Their digital agency will rebrand it as “Disrupting natural selection since 1981”

Comment by John

Especially if it’s TBWA.

Comment by George

Nice post Robert and I still love that Punch line. (no pun intended)

Comment by George

Jill’s uncle is Phillip Noyce? You’re jammier than an orphan adopted by Brad and Angelina.

Comment by DH

Yes … and he has Angelina’s email/mobile information.

Not that he would give it to me. And trust me, I’ve tried.

Comment by Roberto

The best ones reflect how the brand positions their users.

Comment by John


Comment by DH

Not possessing their unique skillset and personality traits, I have never been considered planner material.

Comment by John

Unfortunately John, I was. Consider yourself fortunate.

Comment by Pete

I have never been considered fortunate either.

Comment by John

Comment by DH

As well as deposition the competition.

Comment by Roberto

I still think one of the best is persil mums wash whiter
Persil didn’t wash whiter the care mums put into it did

Comment by Northern

Reblogged this on krisinamsterdam and commented:
Dutch saying “better well stolen than badly created” and as this sums up so many ongoing current thoughts I am sharing.

Comment by krisinamsterdam

Hey Chris, if you want to humiliate yourself by acknowledging you come to this blog, who am I to stop you. Ha.

Comment by Roberto

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