After forty odd years as a marketer, one would think that I would have become used to marketing’s misunderstandings – I haven’t.

I need to say from the outset that this is due, in the main to my own intolerance more than to client behaviour. You see after such a long time in the business the disciplines of marketing become so second nature that one, quite wrongly, assumes that everyone knows what you know.

This particularly applies to two important and vexing issues which impact on the long term process of any marketing ideal. I speak of course of ‘Positioning’ and ‘Brand Management’.

I doubt that anyone has ever truly defined ‘positioning’, at least adequately. Marketers, far better than I, have attempted and failed, but that would never deter me from ‘having a go’… So here’s my attempt.

Think for a moment of your best friend, I want you to picture them standing before you – are you tuned in yet? If so, right now you’ve got a picture of your friend as you have ‘learned’ to see them. Their behaviour, their humour, their personality, their looks, all will contribute to how you see them in your mind’s eye.

Simple as it is, that’s ‘Positioning’. You have developed a picture in your mind based upon your knowledge and understanding, and you’ve positioned
your friend.

Now translate that to a brand or product. All your experiences with that product contribute to the positioning of that product in your mind. Questions such as, Is it traditional? Is it credible? Does it offer value? Is it safe? etc. all help to develop its positioning for you and that is where the importance of branding begins.

Looks are important and they can be superficial, but good products create brands that reflect their true selves – they are transparent. They look good, taste good, offer value and understand the importance of the consumer. Understanding that leads us to the second of our misunderstood disciplines, that of ‘Brand Management’.

Brand Management is, as it states, ‘the management of a brand’. In today’s market it should more rightly be called Brand Security because well intentioned personnel seem to spend their entire existence attempting to bastardise their brand. If you understood what I said about positioning you’ll soon realise that your best friend’s positioning depended on them being consistent and always looking and acting the same – they are themselves.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on punching it home, “Image is that which remains when all else is equal”.When you play around with your looks; your dress; hair; behaviour, you change your positioning in the mind of your friends and when brands aren’t disciplined enough to maintain their looks; packaging; advertising; behaviour etc. they too run the risk of a change in the way consumers’ view them.

That’s what Brand Management is all about; protecting your image and ensuring whatever projection your company delivers, it is consistent with your planned positioning.

So next time you’re on a short term survival campaign, invoke your brand management skills and think long and hard about how such a strategy may impact on your positioning, because trading off your brand image for short term gain is not a clever idea.