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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.
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