Book Review: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Category – Marketing – Branding

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Overview – Brand Marketing Book

If you are building a brand or a business you need to think about positioning and branding.  What is it that you want to stand for that is unique and different in the market place?  Positioning isn’t just for big brands – it is for any brand (even your personal brand.

I would definitely recommend this book – it is well worth the read, but I would probably only give it 3.5 stars out of 5.  The main reason is that the examples are WAY out of date (the book is 30 years old).  The principles still apply today, however it is tough to follow a book that is referencing examples from when I was 2 years old.

I have also read another book by the same authors “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” and I liked this MUCH more.

So, bottom line:  It is a good book, worth a read, solid principles, but out of date.  This book is especially relevant if you work for a big company (most of the examples are big company examples), but the principles can also be applied to any business, or your personal brand.

Key Points:

  • The position of your brand or business is in the eyes of your prospect or customer.  It doesn’t matter what you think your business or brand stands for or is about.  They key is the perception that your customers have.  “Positioning is how you differentiate yourself in the mind of the prospect.  That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.”
  • Our society is overcommunicated.  Even 30 years ago there were so many commercials that you had to really work to break through the noise.  “We have become the world’s first overcommunicated society.  Each year we send more and receive less”
  • It is difficult to change minds If your positioning strategy involves changing that people already think you will have a difficult time.  The best strategies are congruent with what people already think and set to add or move existing perceptions, not totally change them.  Once a mind is made up it is almost impossible to change.  The mind accepts only that which matches prior knowledge or experience.
  • Create oversimplified messages. You are lucky if people can remember one message and associate it back to your product.  Less is more.  Oversimplify and stick to a single message.  Link one concept to one product.
  • Create a category you can win. Define the category differently so that you are the biggest/best/awesomest.  It is better to be a big fish in a little pond and then expand the pond.  Leadership matters.  You have to be #1 or #2.
  • Look for the hole.  Then fill it. Where is the positioning white space?  What are your competitors missing in how they are positioned.  What are the customer benefits that are not being addressed or exploited by competitors?  Don’t fall in to the “everybody” trap.  You can’t be all things to all people.  You will end up being nothing at all.
  • 80% of learning takes place through the eyes. Words matter.  Especially in the service business.  You need to own a phrase.  Visualize the words that you are using.  The goal is to drive verbal ideas into the mind.
  • Isolating a narrow target is usually the first step in finding an effective position. The narrower and better defined target the better.  This will help clarify your position.