The Art of Positioning

Don’t work with us. We are terrible.

Okay, so I hope I got your attention, but it wasn’t much of a sell was it? Still want us to re-position your brand and help you win your critical bid. Hmm fair enough.

Awareness – 1
Chances of working with us – 0

How about ‘Your revenue will increase with us. We have the case study proof in your sector’

This is more like it. Now you may be a little more interested.

Awareness – 1
Chances of working with us – 1

The art of positioning fascinates us at JPC, day and night. So many ways to explain something, through use of context, insight, humour, humility and giving others the opportunity to look at something with a different perspective.

So what are the positioning disasters, time wasters and winners?

It is a very subjective art but for me these ones particularly stand out in a field of their own;

Positioning disaster

For one of the greatest re-positioning disasters look no further than Gerald Ratner who labeled his own product ‘crap’ and once the after-dinner laughs died down, so did his £500 million jewellery empire.

Positioning waste of time

When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who seem genuinely good people, declared they were ‘consciously uncoupling’ it seemed they were positioning their divorce as something different to the rest of us. It brought more attention and probably made more of a sad event than was needed.

Most humorous

Many years ago there was an Indian building company in South London who adorned their van with a decal stating ‘You’ve tried the cowboys, now try the Indians’. Funny, clever, memorable whilst conveying a promise on their quality of work.
You've tried the Cowboys - now try the Indians

B2C Positioning Winner

One word; ‘Probably’ and you know what it is.

Probably the best positioning statement in the world! Memorable, fun, challenging, disruptive, irreverent, and legally iron cast. All the things that Carlsberg has benefited from since 1973 when it introduced the monosemic campaign.

In 2011, it dropped the positioning for ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’ because Asia and Russia perceived the word ‘Probably’ as a sign of weakness, and they accounted for 40% of sales. However, so strong was the ‘Probably’ positioning that Carlsberg have since reverted back to it.

B2B Positioning Winner

The B2B industry wrestles with positioning lines. Can they truly represent all a business does? Are they patronising to their customers? How far before you set yourself up for a fall? Well IBM in the 80’s answered that, and some. The ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’ which graduated from an internal line to one of B2B’s most iconic, demonstrated what a great, simple and brave positioning could do. It morphed into a philosophy and to still be quoted some 30 years later reinforces the power of this positioning.
Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM
There are so many facets that go into a great brand positioning, finding the core truth and expressing it in a manner that is clear, timeless, inspiring, different, and not least, getting many internal people to all finally agree on it! The final positioning should be the purest, finest, truest and most-distilled essence of why an organisation, product and/or service exists.

As Dr. Seuss remarked “There is no one alive….who is you-er than you”. Is your own organisation’s positioning ‘true-er’ than true?

I’d love to hear your favourite or worst brand positioning examples.


JPC are a strategic communications agency who ‘Make the complex, compellingly simple.’ We specialise in Building Brands, Winning Bids, Sales Enablement and Creating Experiences. Please contact Nick Pearce for more information; nick.pearce@thinkjpc.com

Join the discussion