It was too early in the night to disappear and my host would have been beside herself, if she’d have realised I wasn’t there – I think?. “Don’t you like cocktail parties?” She would ask, while I attempted to secret away my loathe and contempt for these bumptious occasions. Soon I am ensconced in my favourite game, ‘Spot the Profession’. As a tomato juice drinker, I have fun watching others become slowly intoxicated and losing their inhibitions and, I’m reliably informed, sometimes their clothes. In this loose state many people become what they really are – et vino veritas – (There’s truth in wine) – and when they do I like to guess their profession. It’s genuine fun, at least for me!

The middle aged freak with the Elvis hairdo and the 5 kilogram, gold cross dangling into what he wishes was a hairy vest, is a used car salesman, I’m sure. The cute 35 year old with the bun and the specs, a teacher? Maybe a librarian? The old guy who showed up in the yellow tie with Homer J. Simpson on it has got to be an insurance operator and the young dude with the Armani suit and the Rolex couldn’t be anything else but a broker? And here she is, the give away of all time. At forty five, she’s dressed to kill and she’s chatty enough to keep the ABC busy for a fortnight. She’s got to be a new aged female executive and the shards of shiny stuff falling from her ample bust line are from where she broke through the ‘glass ceiling’ as she drove her well shaped form into the boardroom.

It’s not a game really. It’s merely the confirmation of an old adage. “If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck… it probably is one”.

Consumers today play the same game every moment. Jan Carlzon, in his book, ‘Moments of Truth’ said it best of all; “A company has but fifteen seconds to create itself in the mind of the customer!” He, was of course, dead right and ‘create’ is the operative word.

‘Positioning’ is just that – ‘creating yourself in the consumer’s mind’. It’s easy to look and quack like a duck when you are a duck, but what happens if your a swan and you make yourself look like a duck – You’ve got it, they’ll think you’re a duck and you’ll get treated like one. Positioning is not an easy discipline, especially when you aren’t exactly sure what you are. So if you’re in business today, for pity’s sake consult someone who understands the difference between ducks and swans and above all else remember, ‘ Consumers are smart, they’ll sus you out – Wood ducks are a threatened species. Quack!