How to make the Malaysia Nation Brand strategy successful

Let’s get something straight. A catchy tagline, symbolic logo, pretty colours that symbolize the ‘personality’ of the brand and a custom designed font are not Nation Branding.

Glossy advertisements that push the creative envelope and consist of content that is impossible for stakeholders to buy into or live up to, is not Nation Branding.

Expensive brochures and other marketing collateral that use light gray colours on white backgrounds and font sizes impossible to read is not Nation Branding.

Hugely expensive billboards that create awareness but do little else and are soon lost in the fog of the tens of thousands of messages consumers are exposed to every day is not Nation Branding.

It might have been possible to use such creative-driven branding to build a Nation Brand in the 1960s – 1990s, when countries and their advertising agencies focused more on getting attention than getting results.

But this is a different era. There are now so many channels to consumers, so many competitors all with a similar offering and so many distractions that it is no longer possible to build a Nation Brand in this way.

Furthermore, too many taglines have made promises the Nation couldn’t possibly keep or their marketing or PR collateral has left potential customers underwhelmed. This may not have been the fault of the Nation or it may be the result of poor internal implementation but it has resulted in a delivery failure that has negatively impacted all efforts till then. A case in point is the Incredible India campaign and the multiple attacks on women over the last year.

Moreover, engaging (not reaching) target markets through traditional channels with traditional tools is virtually impossible today. Especially in the digital age when consumers are more knowledgeable, have more choice and are more demanding.

So how do we make the Malaysia Nation Brand successful?
Reach, awareness etc are all irrelevant. Nation Brands today are defined based on the economic, experiential and emotional value they deliver to all stakeholders.

What will make or break the success of the Malaysia Nation Branding project is the work that has gone into determining what are the key elements of the Malaysia Nation Brand.

Identifying and understanding what we have, what is unique, who are the stakeholders, what are we are going to do to get their buy in, how we identify target segments, the knowledge we learn about them and their requirements for value and deliver value to target segments (all of whom are very different and have very different requirements for value and must therefore be engaged with content that resonates with them), how we build our relationships with them, how we work with them and provide solutions to their problems.

The ability to build lasting relationships with stakeholders, a highly trained team capable of matching country attributes to those stakeholder requirements and the ability to consistently deliver value are required.

External communications battles are not fought on the right hand pages of national newspapers, during commercial breaks on terrestrial TV or on the outside back cover of business publications. They are not even fought on the pages of digital media or on corporate websites.

The battles for the hearts and minds of prospects are fought in the comments sections of blogs, on third party sites through user experience comments, through account manager emails, forums, search engines and ongoing personalized relationships.

If the people responsible for this project can match your Nation Brand to the value customers are looking for, they may have a chance of building a successful Malaysia Nation Brand.

I am reliably informed the Malaysia Nation Brand project has a budget of RM30 million. But it’s not known what that covers. If it is simply for a communications campaign then it will not be money well spent and the project will fail.

However, if it is for a comprehensive brand audit and Nation Brand plan (which will have been developed once the brand audit was completed and will focus on internal and external stakeholders) that outlines how to deliver value as defined above and based on the “Endless Possibilities” tagline, then that will be terrific use of taxpayers money and the country will benefit for many, many years.

Infographic: The history of marketing

HubSpot, the inbound marketing gurus have come up with an impressive infographic that outlines the history of marketing from the first one dimensional ads of 1450 to the digital, more interactive model of today.

The history of marketing
The history of marketing

It’s a massive infographic that features all the key moments in the evolution of marketing such as the print era that lasted 300 or so years to the introduction of new channels including TV and radio advertising and then onto the digital era of video, search marketing, inbound marketing, email and more before coming to the present era of social media and mobile.

Art meets advertising

This is a beautiful video of what maybe the last of the billboard painters.

Hand-painted billboards first appeared in the USA in the 1950s and are still seen in some parts of the USA especially in LA where they are often used to promote a new movie.

The Red Army in China used them to err motivate citizens and they are still a common sight in parts of South East Asia and India. However the quality leaves a lot to be desired and may not compare to these American billboards.

Thanks to these guys for the heads up on this video.

Street art goes to war against outdoor advertising

Here’s something interesting from the UK.

A group of artists from the UK, Italy and France have embarked on a project around the UK that is called “Brandalism” which aims to “challenge the destructive impacts of the advertising industry.”

Brandalism is essentially a campaign to hijack a number of billboards around London and ‘refresh’ them with new work by 26 street artists.

These guys are not happy with the advertising industry, claiming the industry takes no responsibility for the messages they force-feed consumers and don’t give those consumers a chance to opt out from these intrusions into public and personal spaces.

Nike is just one of the brands targetted by the group

The project has so far targetted outdoor campaigns by Nike, Footlocker, JD Sports and McDonald’s and Locog have been “refreshed” by the artists among others. The group has also posted anti advertising campaigns in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

This is being portrayed as street art against branding when in fact it should be street art against outdoor advertising.

Outdoor advertising is an element of advertising which is an element of communications which is an element of branding.

I don’t quite understand how taking a billboard with one message and painting over with another message is going to stop the intrusive attempts by advertisers (and their clients) to get our attention.

There’s also a danger that they will become guilty of the ‘crime’ they are so against, don’t you think?

You can read more about the project here

The only brand worth having is a profitable brand (even if it means losing customers)

Looking through the ‘archives’ of some of our early branding blog posts, I came across a reference to an article in Fortune Small Business.

The article talked about three companies that had for years pursued a traditional sales and market growth approach that saw them investing more in acquisition than retention whilst paying little attention to profitability.

One case study was of Skelton Tomkinson (now known as Skelton Sherborne), a heavy-machinery shipper based in Brisbane, Australia. At the time the company had one office in Brisbane and one office in the U.S. where Caterpillar was a major customer.

In 2000, because he was seeing little growth using a traditional sales and market growth approach, the owner deliberately raised fees on his least profitable customers, hoping they would leave. Some of them did and revenues dropped dramatically, from US$20 million per year to $8.2 million.

But profitability increased 98% and total revenues slowly returned to $20 million. Tomkinson’s motto: “I run my company with this saying: Volume is vanity, and profit is sanity.”

And it must be working because today, the company has 11 offices, up from 2 in 2000. The new offices are in South East and North Asia, with one in the Arabian Gulf.

Far too many companies believe that they must pursue sales or market growth and this generally means ‘spraying and praying’ – basically the act of spending as much money as possible trying to reach as many people as possible.

What they should in fact focus on is profitable growth, which most often results from identifying and retaining profitable customers and not trying to sell to evey Tom, Dick and Harry.

Another mistake companies make is wasting valuable resources finding out what their customers are doing and then wasting even more valuable resources fighting or trying to block or undercut those competitors.

This is an exercise in futility because in today’s dynamic, always on, constantly evolving world, the only focus should be on identifying the right prospects, creating the right customers (and getting rid, yes getting rid of unprofitable customers) and delivering value to profitable customers through engagement and personalisation.

The great branding graveyard in the sky is full of brands that played the volume game – think Rangers FC, Viyella, Blockbuster, Silverjet, Swissair, Habitat, Mobikom, MegaTV, Pelangi Air, PanAm – they all took a traditional approach to building their businesses yet they all ended in failure.

Seeing your name on billboards or in print ads everywhere and reaching lots of people may make you feel good but focussing on profitability will keep you sane.

Successful brand building is determined more by customer experiences than by slick advertising campaigns

Far too many companies, whether Multi National Corporation (MNC) or Small, Medium sized Enterprise (SME) think or are led to believe that the fast track way to branding acceptance is to spend large amounts of money on high quality TV commercials, billboards or print advertising campaigns that showcase their products or services and communicate corporate driven messages to consumers.

But just because telecommunications companies, banks, oil companies, soft drinks firms and others spend considerable amounts of money on advertising doesn’t mean that the advertising is the reason for their success or that it is right for you.

In fact quite often, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the advertising campaigns initiated by these companies. A case in point is the current Celcom campaign “Ini Wilayah Celcom” prominent on billboards across Kuala Lumpur. With current mobile penetration in Malaysia around 125% of the population, it doesn’t make sense for Celcom to be creating awareness with expensive outdoor campaigns.

Unsurprisingly, at end of many such campaigns, there is often very little change in the fortunes of the brand. Which is why many of these advertising campaigns, do little to build brands and should not be emulated by other companies.

Because a key element of whether or not your brand building is successful will depend not on what you tell consumers through paid media but on the experiences consumers have with your personnel, your business and your products.

Put simply, if you manufacture furniture and spend a lot of money advertising a new furniture range but the furniture breaks all the time, you may make some sales but your brand will suffer as consumers avoid making a return visit and worse, discuss their issues with other consumers on and off line.

Likewise if your staff are slow, rude, inattentive, badly groomed, lack product knowledge, unhelpful and poorly trained, you may make a sale but the customer is unlikely to return and you can be sure they will share their negative experiences with others.

Furthermore, these negative experiences will be spread across the Internet using social media tools and in coffee shops, bars and so on will have a negative impact on your brand. Even sales of previously successful products may be affected negatively.

However, treat customers well and they will remain loyal. In a recent survey by Spherion, 97% of those questioned said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service. However, once they have a bad experience or their trust is lost, it’s very hard to win back. To have a chance of winning back their business, 22% want a simple apology, 10% want a complete refund, and 8% would want incentives or coupons and even then there is no guarantee.

But 46% said that it would take an apology, a complete refund AND coupons or further incentives to have a chance of winning back their business. The implications therefore on your brand, of delivering a bad experience is costly and time consuming.

For the record, 15% said absolutely nothing would atone for their bad experience.

So you can try to shape the perceptions of your products or services with advertising, PR, advertorials, nice brochures and with content across social media and elsewhere but the reality is that the success or failure of your brand will be determined by experiences and how customers discuss your brand after the experiences.

Apple for example charges a premium for its products. It sells the sort of stuff – computers, smart phones, MP3 players – that lots of other people sell yet sells them at a premium. Margins for Apple iPhones are in the region of 50% compared to a meagre 6.2% for Nokia smartphones.

Furthermore, Apple ‘only’ spends US$250 million (2009) on advertising compared with Microsoft US$1.4 billion and Dell US811 million. In terms of a percentage of sales, this equates to 2.4% for Microsoft, 1.3% for Dell and 0.5% for Apple. RIM, manufacturer of the Blackberry spends 3.6% of revenue on advertising.

New technology companies that have sophisticated digital strategies and use email to market themselves spend even less on traditional advertising. Google spends only US$11 million on advertising or 0.05% of revenue. Amazon is a little higher at US$43 million or 0.17% of revenue.

As a general rule of thumb, spending less than 2% of revenue on advertising is considered low. For the automotive industry average advertising spend is nearer 3.5% of revenue. For alcohol it is more like 7% and for packaged goods and most other industries, as high as 10%.

Firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon and others are not successful because they spend huge amounts on short term advertising campaigns to create awareness but on innovative design, quality products and excellent service that is uniformly outstanding across all customer touch points such as in stores, whether bricks and mortar or online.

Consumers will pay more for Apple products because they are guaranteed a quality product (as well as inclusion into a not so unique club of Apple users) that will not fail them. And if it does, customers know they can go back to the store and seek a replacement or have repairs carried out under warranty.

Unfortunately most MNCs and SMEs don’t appreciate just how important the customer experience is. And the increasing popularity of social media means that consumers are voicing their dissent, not just to a few friends over teh tarik at a local Kopi Tiam but now to thousands and thousands of friends and followers and to their friends and followers across communities on Twitter, Facebook and more.

So as you try to build a successful brand, a core component of your strategy must be to build relationships with prospects and customers. You must learn how to manage relationships with customers, not just offline and during office hours but also online and at weekends.

Because unless you have a unique product or service (and few companies have unique products or offer unique services today), customers may buy from you if they have a bad experience but they are unlikely to come back again. And because of increased competition, it is impossible to build a brand on a business model that relies on new customers all the time.

Make sure that at every touch point where consumers interact with your brand, the experience for those customers is a positive one. This becomes a greater challenge as a company grows and if you get it wrong, what was once a nice little niche business with a manageable group of customers who all spoke positively about the company can become, almost overnight a loss making enterprise with fewer customers and a bad reputation for over promising and under delivering.

Ensure that every sales contact, service delivery and customer service interaction that the customer comes into contact with is positive as this will have a positive impact on your brand. Even suppliers need to be treated with respect.

But even if you invest heavily in customer relationships, and even if you keep 99% of your customers happy, there will always be some who are not happy and are dissatisfied with your service. What do you do with them?

The first thing is not to ignore these important customers. Try to get them to explain to you what is the problem. Be prepared to listen and hear stuff that may sound unreasonable. Some customers will be rude, personal and even physical. But you have to make sure your people are trained to listen and empathise. Think KFC!

And where possible solve their problem in a way that is satisfactory for them, not you. I know this might be a problem for you and will certainly cost you money on that particular transaction but in the long run it will offer far greater returns.

If you try to take care of every single customer, both those that are not a problem and those that are you’ll create a positive reputation. Even if customers are frustrated with their experiences with your brand, if you show empathy and provide a solution that makes them happy, there is a good chance they will tell others that they were impressed with you and how hard you worked to solve the problem for them. And with a little incentive, you can probably convince them to come back.

Despite what you may have been told, mass advertising across mass media is not the holy grail to building a brand. Which is fortunate because it means SMEs won’t waste hard earned money on campaigns to compete with large conglomerates. But if you look after the customer and try to make every experience a positive one, you will speed up the process of building a brand.

Thanks to zendesk for the graphic above.

Despite falling sales, Volvo still trying to use advertising to build its brand

Sadly, too many firms believe, or are led to believe that the way to build a brand is through advertising or, more specifically a series of advertising campaigns that are ever more creative, cutting edge, out of the box, off the wall or any other cool catch phrase your agency cares to throw at you.

If the budget is large enough, and it seems too many companies have too much money to play with and no accountability as to how it is spent, then the best thing the agency can do is buy lots of expensive TV air time, ‘wraparounds’ for publications, preferably daily newspapers because lots of people read them so the eyeballs will be high, above the fold pop ups on websites and lots of other expensive high profile spots.

Of course no advertising campaign would be complete without a couple of high profile billboards in high traffic areas to create awareness of the product with as many people as possible, irrespective of who they are and whether they are interested in or can afford the product.

Volvo is the latest automotive brand to launch yet another new car with a creative campaign across at least print and digital media. This latest campaign expects us to believe that a Volvo is hiding a beast inside.

Are we really going to believe there is a beast inside a Volvo?
This is no longer safe, now it is wicked. Or maybe it is safe and wicked!

The above the fold digital campaign is being used to launch the new V60, T4 and T5 range and features intrusive hover or pop out ads on The Malaysian Insider and possibly other news sites. Interestingly, once the Volvo ad on The Malaysian Insider closes, there is an expandable ad for BMW beneath it!

Back in early 2010, Volvo ran a new creative campaign for the new Volvo V50 with the tagline, “There’s more to life with Volvo.” Later that same month Volvo ran another campaign featuring a man and a woman wearing parkas sitting in a pile of snow and staring at a snow covered landscape (don’t forget we’re in Malaysia which sits pretty much on the equator!) with the headline, “Volvo owners get more out of life.”

Even more confusingly, at the time there was a Volvo billboard outside my office with the tagline, “Winner of fuel efficiency award.”

In 2011, Volvo launched a new version of the S60. This time they encouraged us to “get naughty with it.” The ad claimed there are ‘naughty cars everywhere’ and that ‘naughty cars go everywhere’. The box ad features the price of the car and two links to either get naughty with the car or test drive it.

You can read more about this campaign in my post of last year which is here.

The fact of the matter is that these campaigns are not working. In 1999 Volvo sold 642 cars in Malaysia. In 2009 Volvo sold 550 cars. In the same year, Peugeot sold 1,258, VW 885, Mazda 1,444, BMW 3,564 and just to put things into perspective, Toyota sold 81,784 in the same period.

In 2010 Volvo sales increased to 839 but this was below the target of 1,100 set by the CEO. And in the same period, VW sold almost 4 times as many cars (2,810) as the year before. Mazda increased sales from 1,444 in 2009 to an impressive 4,325 in 2010. Even Peugeot increased sales from 1,258 in 2009 to 2,562 in 2010. Mazda and Peugeot do very little advertising in Malaysia.

So these creative new campaigns are obviously not working. So what should Volvo do?

1) Develop a plan to identify and target the right consumers
2) Create content that will resonate with your consumers. Better still, get consumers to generate the content.
3) Separare the acquisition strategy from the retention strategy
4) Integrate all activities across all platforms don’t just launch ad hoc tactical campaigns and hope they work. They aren’t.
5) Invest more in sales and post sales communications
6) Volvos are safe, they can’t be safe and wicked. We like the fact they are safe but we appreciate you want to attract new segments but please, keep it real or you will lose existing segments and not attract new ones.

Implementation of any creative campaign should take into account the fact that consumers are no longer impressed with well executed, high quality, brand driven commercials. Because they don’t believe what they read anymore. In Malaysia 86% of participants in a survey said they no longer believe what they read in advertisements.

A brand can no longer rely simply on ads to sell products. An integrated brand strategy is crucial to successful branding. With a recession coming, Volvo needs to get it right and get it right soon.

By the way, whilst Volvo is trying to tell us the Volvo is actually a beast and that a Volvo is wicked, Volkswagen is pushing it’s park assist in Europe. Have a look at this enjoyable <a href="

Volkswagen – Tiguan – Park Assist II (ENG) from AlmapBBDO Internet on Vimeo.

” target=”_blank”>video made for iPad.

Dulux goes local

I expect most people around the world recognise international paint brand Dulux.

In its early days Dulux wasn’t available through retail channels because painters and decorators were the firm’s main customers. However in the 1950s, the firm still spoke to consumers in its advertising, telling them to, “Say Dulux to your decorator”. The goal of course was to get your tradesman to buy Dulux.

By 1953 Dulux had gone retail and in the 1960s the The firm became an institution in the UK following a ground breaking advertising campaign featuring an adorable Old English Sheepdog. Nowadays, people of my age often say, “Oh look, the Dulux dog” to bemused children whenever they see an Old English Sheepdog.

Dulux has maintained a very high profile in Malaysia and I have seen numerous billboards, print ads and TVCs featuring bright colours, smiling healthy children and sometimes of course a cute, adorable dog.

It always struck me that this was a questionable strategy, not only because this old mass economy model of spraying money everywhere and praying it would stick with enough consumers to increase sales was rather an archaic approach but also because it was a very Western approach to marketing paint to consumers.

In developed countries such as the UK and USA, home improvement is big business. In the UK alone spending on DIY by householders increased from £7.7 billion in 1998 to £10.9 billion in 2008. The average per household works out at about £700. Interestingly, spending on tradesmen to do the work fell from £6.4 billion to £5.7 billion during the same period.

According to a Euromonitor report, in Malaysia about £300 million was spent in 2008 on DIY and gardening and an average per household of about £20.

One of the reasons for such a difference is that many Malaysians live in apartments but also because it is relatively cheap to arrange for someone else to do your garden and there are plenty of contractors to carry out renovations and paint your house. So the target market in Malaysia should be these small contractors and not consumers.

Anyway, up until this week Euro RSCG, an advertising company had been the incumbent on the brand’s US$100 million global advertising business which it won from DDB in November 2009.

In the last couple of days, Dulux has let the agency go and is now moving away from using a global advertising agency to implement its advertising strategy and instead is giving local markets responsibility for their own campaigns.

This is an excellent move and will hopefully just be the start as other companies such as Patek Philippe, Audi, Lexus, Cartier to name but a few, are all wasting money on traditional mass market global advertising campaigns that may make sense in one market but do little for the brand in others.

Advertising campaigns need to be integrated across the organisation

Recently I wrote a post about my experiences when I called the number on a billboard selling a luxury automotive brand. You can read the full article here

Basically I talked about how I rang this brand after seeing a billboard outside my office. I got through to the receptionist who asked for my number and said she would get someone from sales to call me back. Nobody called me back, even though the car costs about RM500,000 (US$166,000)! I thought this was an excellent example of why so many brands fail. But I didn’t think much more about it.

Then today I was sitting at a traffic light outside Bangsar Shopping Complex and I saw the same company had another billboard, this time it was advertising their jaw dropping top of the range V10 sports car that costs over RM1,250,000 (US$420,000) in Malaysia. Now this really is an exclusive motor and in the middle of last year there were orders for about 240 of them in the UK and a waiting list of 12 months. If they are only selling 250 odd in the UK I would expect them to sell no more than 50 in Malaysia. So you have to question why they market such an exclusive product on a billboard.

But this is not a rant about using old mass market mass economy models to sell luxury brands, this is about the fact that it is imperative that marketing campaigns are integrated and organisational excellence is at the heart of any tactical campaign.

And I know it isn’t at the heart of this campaign because whilst waiting for the lights to change I decided to call the number on the billboard and see what sort of a response I would get.

I called the number. No answer. Now it was 5.17pm and perhaps the receptionist has gone home. But I doubt the sales team had gone home. I bet they were sitting around wondering how to drive traffic to the showroom so they can make target this month and get a nice juicy bonus for Chinese New Year. Perhaps at least one of them might have been wondering why the expensive outdoor campaign they’ve been running for some time hasn’t generated any results!

I’ve tried to go and see these guys but the marketing manager tells me they are doing well. Here are some basic principles to abide by when you run an advertising campaign so that when you are doing well, you can do better.

1) You advertise on billboards to stimulate, inform, persuade etc. If you want to inform perhaps a 100 people in the country about a luxury product, spending large amounts of money on billboards or for that matter print ads in daily newspapers, is a complete waste of marketing dollars.
2) Consumers who can afford to spend over 1 million Ringgit on a car are unlikely to keep to your office hours. Make it easy for them to spend money with you.
3) Your advertising copy should appeal to a specific audience – in this case, those who can afford over RM1,250,000 on a car – everyone else is just getting in the way. So create copy that will resonates with that target market. This ad just mentioned the engine capacity and that was it! Ever wondered why mini does so well?
4) Develop metrics for measuring channel effectiveness. A simple metric for outdoor ads is a specially assigned number for that campaign.
5) Outdoor advertising is 24 hours. That’s probably one reason why you bought it in the first place! If you can’t have someone on standby 24 hours a day, install an answering machine or after office hours have calls diverted to a sales manager or sales director.

These are elementary and should be included in any strategy document created by a brand consultant.

Why are you still using positioning to build a brand?

Back in the late 1960s, Al Ries and Jack Trout published their first article on positioning. But the term didn’t really become advertising jargon until the articles entitled “The Positioning Era”, were published in Advertising Age in the early 1970’s.

You can read the original articles here

There are numerous definitions of what positioning is today (Google ‘what is positioning’ and you get 24,900,000 responses). Even wikipedia isn’t sure but anyway you can read their definition here

But in today’s marketplace, positioning has multiple problems. Here are 11 reasons why you shouldn’t use positioning to build your brand:

1) Positioning was developed for the US mass market of the 1970’s. Is the Malaysian market similar to the US market? I don’t think so. The Malaysian market isn’t even similar to the Singapore market and they used to be the same country! And Thailand has little in common with Indonesia and so on. So why use the same model here?

2) In a smaller, flatter more competitive world, advertising agencies have used increasingly desperate and outrageous claims in their advertising to position products in the consumer mind. In Malaysia, Proton uses ‘You’ll be amazed’ to describe it’s MPV. I’m sure it is a good car but if it will amaze me, how will a Lamborghini make me feel? Consumers have been carpet-bombed with such claims for so long that now, they rarely take any notice of traditional advertising.

3) Positioning is only suitable for mass markets. Yet branding today is about segmentation and communicating and engaging with those segments via relevant channels and with messages that resonate specifically with those segments or niche markets. It’s also about retention and relationships. Does this mean that a company should develop different positioning for different niches? Or does it use the same approach for every niche? And does it use the same approach for existing customers as well as prospects?

4) Positioning is immeasurable: You can’t say “our positioning has improved our sales by 5 % or as a result of our positioning strategy, our brand is 12% better than competitors. Furthermore, it is impossible to measure the ROI or benchmark positioning.

5) The wikipedia definition is a top-down, company knows best, hierarchical marketing approach. Yet we live in a C2C environment in which consumers define brands.

6) Positioning is one-way. The company knows best and you must listen to us. We tell you how our products are positioned and you will accept what we tell you. But today, if you are not entering into 2 way conversations with consumers you are about to join the brand graveyard. Today, consumers get any information they want on anything from anywhere at anytime and then make their own decisions.

7) Positioning is competition, not customer driven. The basic premise of positioning is that you want to be number 1 or number 2 in a category in a prospect’s mind. If you can’t be number 1 or number 2 in an existing category because of competition, you make your own category. In today’s congested marketplace, the investments required to develop a new category are enormous. Furthermore, besides the difficulty and expense of creating your own category, you are also letting your marketing be driven by the competition rather than consumer demands for value. This means you are always playing ‘catch-up’.

8) Positioning is dated. With limited competition (by today’s standards) in most categories, positioning was a compelling theory. The problem is that the world has changed a little since 1969. Yet agencies continue to recommend positioning as the foundation for any brand strategy.

9) Positioning uses mass market channels such as TV and billboards to reach as many consumers as possible using repetition to create interest. Yet ask yourself, what do you do when the commercials come on TV? Surf the Internet? Put the kettle on? Go to the bathroom? Text a friend? Basically, you do anything but watch the commercial. How many TV commercials can you remember seeing over the weekend? It’s the same with billboards. How many billboards can you remember from your morning commute? And even if you remember those commercials or billboards, how many of the brands have you explored and purchased?

10) Positioning requires massive, and I mean massive budgets that few companies have. If you do have a massive budget and you do execute your campaign across multiple channels for say six months, what happens if it doesn’t work?

11) To use a sporting analogy, in the early 1970s, professional tennis players were still playing with wooden racquets. Soon after the first non-wood racquets appeared. These were initially made of steel, then aluminium and after that, carbon fiber composites. Today’s racquets include titanium alloys and ceramics. As technology has broken new ground, the tools have improved. It is the same in every Industry yet when it comes to building brands, we’re expected to use the same technology and tools as we have been for the last forty years.

If your agency recommends developing a positioning strategy to build your brand politely show them the door and call us!