Positioning and Promises


As the saying goes: be careful what you wish for…

In marketing, positioning was put forth as the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for their brand, product, or organization.

It was originally created to cut through the noise of consumer marketing and help a product stand out.

With more products and services in market, especially in high growth and emerging sectors like technology — both in consumer and business applications — positioning in increasingly used in competitive situations. 

Thoughts on positioning

It's fairly common for business technology buyers, for example, to compare the products or services of several companies before making a purchasing decision. Due diligence is part of their buy strategy.

The classic brand positioning process focused on identifying a point of differentiation, something that made it unique, and associated with it a value for those characteristics.

With methodologies like that of The Lean Startup, customer and user feedback is taking on a greater role in product development and positioning.

You can find more detail about how the term came about, intended definitions, and uses on Wikipedia.

Intended and unintended promises

Today, the degree to which you are able to manage and influence perception is strongly driven by brand behavior and product performance.

By closing the gap between what was promised and what was delivered, brands become assets that can be traded.

The good news with digital media is that brands can go direct — they can make promises to buyers and turn them into customers by reminding them and taking control of those promises.

There are some unintended consequences of going through social networks as channels. Two main questions that came up at different times and are still worth thinking about:

  1. Facebook Beacon – brands guilty by association?
  2. Do social networks see organizations as customers?

The implications are many. Having worked with many a corporate legal counsel over the years, simply thinking about terms and conditions of use in some of those networks is enough to raise the issue of unintended consequences.

The second point is a bit softer, yet still worth thinking about. What are brands getting in return from social networks when they trade on their platforms? Are they called upon making unintended promises they are then expected to keep? 


Taking control of your promises means being aware of both — intended and unintended.

Qantas Airlines is a recent example of business decisions that is having an effect on how the brand is traded. You may have heard or read about the airline decision that left thousands of travelers stranded.

The Sun Times reported:

About 70,000 passengers fly Qantas daily, and would-be fliers this weekend were stuck at home, hotels, airports or even had to suddenly deplane when Qantas suspended operations. More than 60 flights were in the air at the time but flew to their destinations, and Qantas was paying for passengers to book other flights.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said before the panel ruled that the airline could be flying again within hours of a decision. He had estimated the grounding would cost the carrier $20 million a day.

Trading the brand for a better cost position will end up costing Qantas much more in the future. Brands are judged by their actions and loss of trust means you will need more to get business.


[I'm a big fan of Disney's cartoon version of Aladdin

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