Jack Trout and Al Ries brought the concept of positioning into the marketing mainstream with their book, Positioning, the Battle for Your Mind, published in 1980 and since updated several times. (I highly recommend that any of you who are actually interested in a career in marketing should get a copy of the book and read it carefully.) In brief, they define positioning as the mental short list that a consumer has in her mind when she starts to think about shopping for something. Your brand should have a position somewhere on that list, as close to the top of it as possible. If you are not on the list at all, your brand will probably not be considered.
That mental shortlist will typically be about 5 to 7 items long and often shorter, almost never longer. For example, when consumers start thinking about buying a new car, they don’t think of the dozens of possibilities out there, they think about choices with which they are already familiar and which stand out from the crowd.
The authors argue that it is the job of marketers to make their brands seem different from competitors and different in ways that the intended target audience will see as important and preferable.
“Positioning” then becomes a process of figuring out a short summary about the brand to make it memorable and likable. Often, this is summarized in a single phrase or sentence, like BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” or Disney’s “Where dreams come true.”
Such statements often take the form of what advertising people call a “tagline” or “slogan.” But this is not always the case. Sometimes brands use multiple approaches to create a brand image that communicates a message to set it apart from competitors. For example, Volvo is widely perceived as a very safe car that will protect people inside the car even when there is a bad accident. Recently, Subaru has also started to use the same idea, and I would argue that this makes Subaru look somewhat like a “me too” brand, one that is “Johnny come lately” to a category that Volvo established years ago.
For this paper what you need to do is pick a Fortune 500 company and discuss its positioning and the tactics/actions it uses to get this positioning to “stick” in someone’s mind.
EXPECTATIONS: Length is 5 to 9 pages excluding title page, executive summary (on a page by itself), reference list, and any appendices. Follow APA formatting. Do not include a table of contents.
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