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WHAT DOES THE TERM "POSITIONING" MEAN IN THE ADVERTISING WORLD, REALLY?


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"Sooner or later, false thinking brings wrong conduct."
- Julian Huxley

As I began to write this article I quickly discovered that there are many definitions for the term “positioning” in the advertising industry. While they may be correct for a particular application, it appears that this term may have been misunderstood over the years and has created some confusion in the advertising world.

The word “positioning”, in terms of advertising, is commonly defined as the placement of product within the pecking order of brands in a given category. While there is the term “product position” in the market place or “market segment”, one should not confuse this term with the art of positioning a product in the minds of the public with something, which they are familiar.

Here at Creative Visions we define positioning as, “the placement of a product or company within the vicinity or close proximity of an image, idea or individual that is well known by the public thus making it easier to understand the item that is not known”.

Still not clear, perhaps a brief example will help. If you have a new technology or service that very few people have heard of, it is going to be very difficult to capture people’s attention. Why? Because your company or the product is not known! So what do you do? You find something that is known and valued by the public and you “position” your product next to it.

The reason why top ad agencies pay attention to positioning is due to the amount of time it saves in promoting a product or service. You see, unless you are paying for an infomercial, the fastest way to convey your message is through creative and effective positioning.

So in this definition of “positioning” it literally means placing your product (position or proximity to) next to something that is known so that the concept and ideas can be transferred from one to the other. It also conveys a message that the public can grasp in a matter of seconds.

Take a look at this list of products and examine what they are “positioned” with and why:

Ford Trucks – Positioned with = lots of falling heavy objects and Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” of Discovery Channel fame. Why?
Red Bull – Positioned with = Adrenaline Sports of various disciplines. Why?
Geico – Positioned with = The cavemen. Why?
Holiday Inn – NASCAR pit crew cleaning a room. Why?

So how did you do? If you are just starting to get the concept of positioning, you are not alone. Hopefully you can see how it can really speed up the learning curve and help convey a message to your target audience.

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