Conventional brand repositioning wisdom is to alter the brand’s position incrementally from the established position, playing off of current assumptions about the brand. It is usually a very tricky and subtle exercise that requires deep customer insight. And yet, some brands have radically altered their brand’s meanings, so much so that the ‘before’ and ‘after’ target audiences are completely different. Following are two examples of this.
Even producers in the commodity world of meats and produce have found ways to reposition themselves and thus create a unique selling proposition. Their successful strategies can be summed up in five ways.
1. Identify. Ordinary bananas became better bananas when a small Chiquita label was added to the fruit. Dole did the same for pineapple with the Dole label, as did the lettuce people by putting each head into a clear Foxy lettuce package. Of course, you then have to communicate why people should look for these labels.
2. Personify. The Green Giant character became the difference in a family of vegetables in many forms. Frank Perdue became the tough man behind the tender chicken.
3. Create a new generic.The cantaloupe people wanted to differentiate a special, big cantaloupe. But rather than call them just plain “big,” they introduced a new category called Crenshaw melons. Tyson wanted to sell miniature chickens, which doesn’t sound very appetizing. So it introduced Cornish game hens.
4. Change the name. Sometimes your original name doesn’t sound like it would be something you would want to put in your mouth. Like a Chinese gooseberry. When the name was changed to kiwi fruit, the world suddenly had a new favorite fruit that it wanted to put in its mouth.
There are times, though rare, that a repositioning the competition strategy is not to hang a negative on them, but simply to put your lead competitor in its place—or, shall I say, in second place? This was the case in a project we did for the producers of Spanish olive oil.
Few people know that Spain is truly the dominant producer of olive oil. It generally produces more than half the world’s olive oil. Italy, the number two producer, has only half Spain’s production. In fact, Spain outproduces all other countries combined.
In positioning your brand sometimes you discover there are no unique positions to carve out. In such cases I suggest repositioning a competitor by convincing consumers to view the competitor in a different way. Tylenol successfully repositioned aspirin by running advertisements explaining the negative side effects of aspirin.
This is a post about a very powerful marketing strategy that has fallen into disuse. Why? I have no idea, unless it’s about creative people thinking that it’s not creative. It’s called “repositioning the competition” and I, along with my ex-partner Al Ries, wrote about it in a book called, Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind.
In simple terms, to move a new idea or product into the mind, you must first move an old one out. “The world is round,” said Christopher Columbus. “No, it’s not,” said the public, “it’s flat.”